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Throughout the history of the mankind, fairytales and legends have been used to teach people the fundamental educational and moral lessons. Myths give a rise to perception and knowledge of the world at the beginning of the formation of personality. A myth serves as a trigger of a certain state of mind, a certain way of thinking and perceiving the world. By using distinctions between the reality and mythology, the ancient men used to control women and discouraged them from adulterous, romantic, and vicious actions. While women in the ancient Greece and Rome did not possess rights, the national mythology served as a guidebook, which gave women a manual about the correct behavior. Unlike the ancient Greek culture, where mythology portrayed women as secondary creatures, the Romans were characterized by more neutral approach towards women.
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In Greek and Rome, women had no rights. Having married, a woman experienced a transition from one caregiver to another, and if she became a widow, all the rights were transferred to the eldest son. However, there were differences in the attitude towards women, as their position in ancient Rome was different from the place of women in Greece. For the Greeks, a woman was the mistress and the mother of their children. In contrast, the role of women in Rome was different: the man in Rome was looking for a girlfriend, not a housewife. Therefore, women there held a privileged position. For instance, in her presence, rude behavior was not allowed, the wife had the same rights as her husband, and at home and in public places, the couple was always together. Moreover, equality in society extended to the private lives of Roman women: they were not only able to express their feelings, but had all the privileges in bed wih their husbands, as it was believed that the woman who knew no pleasure would not be able to give birth to a healthy offspring.
In contrast, in ancient Greece, women occupied a secondary position. They virtually had no rights. For instance, a wife for the Greek men was only a major of his servants; her main activity was ensuring the slaves’ work and sometimes doing some work herself, like cooking, weaving, sewing, and washing the clothes. In the classical Greek polis, a dominance of masculinity was pronounced. A woman not only took a low position in society, but her position was always dependent. The aim of marriage for women was childbearing, which excluded any opportunity for individuality or certain character.
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The Greek mythology depicted women mostly as negative creatures, often troublesome and vicious. In particular, Pandora was a bringer of vices and unhappiness. In contrast, Roman mythology viewed women as equal to men in the sphere of family relations. Thus, one of the earliest episodes of mythology, the Rape of the Sabine women, revealed the attitude to women. The story showed the significant role that women played in tying families in the society. In addition, the Roman mythology emphasized the beauty of women, with the Muses being one of the brightest example. They charged epic poetry, mime, history, dance, lyric, flute, light verse, comedy, tragedy, and astronomy. This pushed women to be suitably modest and to inspire their men for great actions.
Meanwhile, mythology also pointed the negative sides of woman. Particularly, the Amazons, who were a mythological race of warriors, despised men, killed male babies and capturing men from nearby villages to use them as sex slaves. HHowever, even such strong women were defeated by a man: Hercules won the Queen of Amazons and took her belt. This myth taught that women were dependent on men and could not organize their life alone.
Mythology also had impact on women in terms of self-discipline. In the ancient society, a man was free to have affairs, but a woman who had one would be divorced from or even killed. In the myths, women often have affairs. Leda, Daenae, and Io are only few examples of naughty women, who experienced terrible things because of their betrayals. In such a way, mythology showed that women should not consider affairs as a pastime. Thus, adultery was defined as an offense in the guidebook to women’s life.
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Moreover, myths taught women to be modest and not to boast about their children. Thus, Neptune killed a daughter of Andromeda as she boasted about the beauty of young girl. Also, women should not boast about her talents. Arachne, who boasted about her talent of weaving, was turned into a spider. Because of her curiosity, Pandora let the evils out. The foolishness and curiosity of Pandora became the classic attributes of woman’s character. Thus, myths wanted women to be exquisite, modest, and self-controlled.
In conclusion, the formation of an individual and social consciousness, which is built on the basis of the dominant mythological paintings of the world, occurs in myths. Many ancient legends and myths were directed towards a woman and her behavior. Despite some differences in positioning of women in Greek and Roman mythology, all ancient mythology taught women to be directed by obeisance and humility. In mythology, the social rules and laws, which ancient women were to obey, were explained.
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