Greek Attitudes, Ideologies, Taboos and Morals - Essay Sample

Date:  2021-05-25 14:43:18
4 pages  (1016 words)
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Euripides and Aristophanes depict several aspects of life in ancient Greece in their respective plays. Through Medea and Lysistrata, the playwrights offer a powerful insight into the attitudes, taboos, ideologies and morals in the ancient Greek society. The choice of women as the protagonists presents episodes in such way that most the events affect the mentioned characters to communicate various issues about the ancient Geek culture. This way, we learn from the onset that the issues presented would revolve around women. The two women portray a society that wants to preserve its ideologies, morals, and taboos amidst waves of change. Although changes seem to happen, the society remains steadfast to its traditions and cultural norms.

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Women in the ancient Greek society occupy a low profile in regards social and political affairs. It is a society that confines a woman to the role of tending to the children and the husband with little freedom to interact with other fellow women whereas customs allow men to go out and socialize with fellow men and friends (Euripides lines 283-287).These cultural norms are norms and attitudes are seen when Lysistrata calls women of Athens and Sparta to protest against the raging war between the two sides. Most of the women Lysistrata invites for the sex boycott show reluctance to leave their domestic roles to stay away from their children and husbands (Aristophanes lines 14-19). On the other hand, Euripides depicts Medea as a woman who wants to go against the grain in her quest for Jason to remain married to her. Considering emotional investment she has made in the marriage, she does not stand the possibility of another woman doing a wedding with the man she loves and with whom they have sired two sons (lines 10-25 and lines 121-122).This position is against the misogynist view of the ancient Greek society as exemplified by Jason who describes Medea as a trouble maker and that the reason for protesting against marrying another was just that of sex (Euripides lines 621-628). Marrying was a considered a favor to women in the Greek society. Also, women had to marry and stay with their husbands for life as divorce attracted disrespect (Euripides line 271), and the extra-marital affairs were tolerated (Euripides lines 181-183). Such cultural inclinations explain the negative response of other women and men to the position of Medea in regards to her objections to the prospect that her husband wants to marry another woman. The mentioned groups of people consider such act as acceptable and moral.

Women are also not considered for leadership positions due to taboos and attitudes that show the possibility of such scenario as inappropriate. Both Aristophanes and Euripides depict women as people who can lead yet these women do not rise to make use of the skills they have in leading people. Notably, Lysistrata successfully mobilizes women to protest against the war but acknowledges the special position of men in that particular society. Leadership qualities are also seen in Medea when she is to address a gathering of women who sympathizes with her situation (Euripides lines 155-161). However, these leadership skills are not allowed to flourish by the forces of patriarchy. The emphasis on taboos can also be seen when women mobilized by Lysistrata enter the citadel. This was a prohibited act. It was considered sacrilegious.

The ancient Greeks emphasize the role of the gods in their lives. People hold strong beliefs that the gods control most of the incidents that they encounter in their lives. These gods are greatly revered. Jason does seem to acknowledge that Medea played a significant role in securing the Golden Fleece. He thanks goddess Aphrodite for his successful expedition (Euripides lines 627-631). After the death of Pericles, people begin to question their allegiance to the gods of protection. They had suffered great losses under the siege of Spartans to the extent that they feared their gods had abandoned them. The reverence to gods is also evidenced on the eve of the Sicily military expedition. The destruction of the boundary markers by enemies of Alcibiades attracts interpretations that the gods were issuing a warning against the expected military match to Sicily. This warning comes to pass when Alcibiades defects to the enemy. Elsewhere, Aphrodite features in the heated exchange between the magistrate and Lysistrata (Aristophanes lines 644-650).The frequency with which gods have been invoked in most interactions emphasizes their significance among the ancient Greeks.

Ancient Greeks value democracy in the sense that leadership is not centered on a few individuals who often use state resources for their own enrichment. They do not practice a leadership style where one individual dominates over others. This position is evidenced when the navy returns home to prevent Alcibiades from taking over after his betrayal with the Spartans. Besides, they revolt against the Sparta-appointed oligarchies after the Spartans took control of Athens. Individuals who were considered to have a popularity that threatened or undermined majority rule were also ostracized. These practices place a lot value on democracy.

Lewd language has a prominent feature among the ancient Greeks. Aristophanes depicts individuals who use a language that under normal circumstances could not be used. There is also the aspect of characters touching each other in a way that would seem inappropriate in the modern sense (lines 118-120; 136; 150-152). Moreover, vulgar expressions can be identified in the boundary markers. Despite their sexual undertones, the Greeks appear used to them as they are part of their traditions.

In conclusion, the ancient Greek society has been portrayed as a patriarchal society that does not allow women to grow as leaders. Despite the potential that some women show, little effort is made to uplift the woman from the role of a housekeeper. Misogyny is also tolerated, and Greek morals allow men to practice polygamy. Moreover, Greeks hold their gods with high regard and rely on them for various directions in the different issues that affect their lives.

Works Cited

Aristophanes. "Lysistrata." Vancouver Island University, "Medea." Vancouver Island University,

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