For women, this period brought no great changes. A woman continued to be the symbol of the domestic interior; she was still subject to her kyrios ('lord and master'), and she had no civic rights. (Many scholars have argued that her position actually worsened, but there is not sufficient evidence to press this, and the most we can say is that with the discontinuation of social contacts via the oikos, women probably lost a few of the opportunities for social life they had had previously.

It was mainly women in the better-off households who were affected by the woman's confinement inside the house.

Going out of the house was not actually banned - women went to market and of course there were hetairai and women innkeepers. However, it was frowned upon, especially for the well-born. The act of leaving the house was thus in itself a mark of social differentiation. It should also be noted that women were not criticised as such, but at the mother, wife or daughter of a respectable citizen.

Women went on playing an important part in religious ceremonies, bringing up children, and managing the household.

A work by Xenophon, his Oikonomikos, with its description of the husband's instructions to his new young bride tells us much about the ways in which women spent their time. The bride was to stay put in the house and oversee the slaves; send others to do outside jobs; and have the final say in looking after everybody and everything. It was her responsibility to fetch in any goods that arrived; sort out what was for immediate use and what needed to go into store; and see that everything was properly managed in line with the annual household budget. She also had to take care of production, whether this meant making clothes from raw materials in the house (such as wool or cotton), or baking wheaten bread. Therefore, even if a woman's activities were limited to the house, she obviously had great responsibilities within it.

Of course it was well-to-do families that this applied to. In less well-to-do families, lacking the means to support all these slaves, women had to shoulder a number of other tasks, one of which was selling homemade goods at market. So although it was the inside of the house that was a woman's living area, women often had to work outside, unwelcome though this might have been to the social ideals of the time.

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