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Upon the ward's attaining his majority, i.e. on the completion of his seventeenth year, it was the guardian's duty to introduce him to his fellow-townsmen, and have his name registered. He was then bound to put him in possession of his estate, and to render him an account of his own administration of it. If he failed to render an account, or if he rendered a false one, or if he refused to give possession, or if he had committed any breach of trust, the ward might bring an action,' to recover compensation for the injury sustained; or, in case the guardian had died, he might bring an action for compensation' against the guardian's representatives. The case of Nausimachus and Xenopithes is an example of such an action. These men, after the death of their guardian, commenced actions against his sons, who plead, (as we have seen,) that their father settled the claim against him in his lifetime for three talents.
The right to sue a guardian for breach of duty was, like most other personal causes of action, barred by the lapse of five years. This was the term prescribed by the Athenian statute of limitations.3
I have hitherto spoken of a single guardian only, for the sake of convenience; but it must be understood, that a father had power to appoint any number of guardians that he pleased by his will; and probably a similar discretion was vested in the Archon. Meier infers from the case of Demosthenes, that, where there were several guardians, they incurred a several and not a joint liability. The inference however is not conclusive. It may be that, when the breach of trust was the joint act of all, the ward might have the option of suing them jointly; otherwise, where they had not acted together; for it would be unjust to make them responsible for one another's misconduct. But we have too little information to determine such a point: Demosthenes made separate charges against each of his guardians. Though their negligence might be considered a joint offence, their pecuniary frauds or defalcations were distinct. (See ante, page 96.) From the speech against Nausimachus we learn, that each of the two wards sued each of the four sons of the guardians, making eight actions out of a single cause of action; which may be thought to indicate, that it was the policy of the Athenian law to favour the severance of actions.
No legal recompense was allowed to guardians for the performance of their duty; but, as in our own country it is very common for testators to give legacies to their executors and trustees, so we may reasonably suppose, that the father of Demosthenes, in bequeathing large gifts to the three persons whom he left protectors of his family, only did that which was frequently done by his countrymen. Meier suggests, that the general dishonesty of the Athenian character rendered it necessary thus to bribe guardians to be honest. If we
(1) δίκη ἐπιτροπῆς.
(2) δίκη βλαβης. (3) See the Archæological Dictionary, title πроbeσuía.
(4) Bei dem grossem Mangel an Redlichkeit und Gewissenhaftigkeit, den wir im Character der Athener überhaupt wahrnehmen.
can trust the statements made in the few speeches which have come down to us upon this subject, they certainly make out frightful cases of violated trust. The case in Lysias is far worse than that of Demosthenes. Diogiton, who was both grandfather and uncle of his wards, (for he had given his daughter in marriage to his brother,) had received from the parent, or collected after his death, upwards of fourteen talents; of the whole of which (nearly) he defrauded the children, and, when they came of age, turned them into beggary out of his house.
See on this subject Meier & Schömann, Att. Proc. 293–296. 442-455.
HUSBAND AND WIFE.
THE condition of women at Athens and in the other parts of Greece, their general treatment, and the position which they held in relation to the other sex; all these matters have been fully and ably discussed by Becker in his Charicles, and I shall only briefly advert to them here.
It may be gathered from the Homeric poems and the Attic tragedy, that in the earlier times of Greece women held a more elevated position than we find them holding in the historic period. They had more freedom, a more honourable place in the household, and greater influence both at home and abroad. It has been particularly observed, that, while in early times the husband is described as purchasing his bride from her parents, in later times he expected a suitable dowry to be given with his wife by the father or next of kin.
It is to the usages of Athens, in regard to the female sex, that I am principally directing the reader's attention; though these did not materially differ from the usages of other Greek states, except Sparta, where the manners of the women were as singular and remarkable, as the institutions of their countrymen in general.
The main object of the Athenians, in their treatment of women, seems to have been, to keep them in a state of retirement and seclusion, to maintain a reserve and modesty in their conduct and deportment, and, by confining them wholly to what were deemed feminine occupations, to hold them (socially and intellectually) in subjection to their husbands and guardians. Although this system led to many evils, it is said that the Athenian women were distinguished above most others for modesty and decorum in their dress and behaviour.
Their early training was such as to prepare them for a life of this sort. Athens, with all ber literary tastes, had no educational institution for women; and not only that, but there were no private schools for them, nor any mental tuition at home. The education of the Athenian girl was left entirely to her mother and her nurse. From them she got a smattering of letters, learned perhaps to read and write, and, what was considered still more important, to weave and spin, and to cook. She dwelt entirely in the Gynæconitis, or that part of the house which was appropriated to females; never went into any general society; lived, in short, very much the life of a Turkish lady, seeing only her female relations and domestics, and rarely even leaving the house, except on special occasions, as when she had to walk in a religious procession, or to join some festival from which men were excluded.
The married life was in accordance with what the single had been; though, as might be expected, the wife had more freedom and more power in the domestic establishment than had been entrusted to the daughter. She was in some respects the mistress of the house; the keys of the apartments were delivered to her; she had the custody of the furniture and stores, the superintendence of female slaves, and general management of household affairs and duties, such as cooking, nursing, &c.
Yet, though mistress of the house, the Athenian wife was not her own mistress. She lived, as she had done before marriage, in the female apartments, and was excluded from all male society. If her husband had company, she did not sit at table with them, not even with her own relations of the male sex. It was expected that she should not leave the house without her husband's knowledge; it was not respectable to go out without a slave; and to be seen at an open window was considered indecorous. Hence it is that, when the news of the disaster of Charonea had reached Athens, the women, anxious as they must have been to get intelligence of their husbands and relatives who had been in the battle, are represented as coming no farther than to the doors; and even this is mentioned as being unseemly, and a sign of their great distress. (See Volume II. Appendix IX. page 392.)
We read of legal restrictions against the women going abroad. Plutarch in the life of Solon (21) says, that he passed a law forbidding them to go out at night except in a chariot with a torch
Syracuse, which forbade free women to go out at all after sunset. The tendency of Solon's legislation apparently was, to curtail the liberty of the female sex. He passed measures to check their extravagance in dress, and their disorderly conduct at festivals, sacrifices, and mournings. There are said to have been officers called Gynæconomi, whose business it was to see that Solon's regulations were observed, and to punish improper excesses and breaches of
decorum. It has been thought with some reason, that these officers were not appointed till a later period. We find nothing about them in the early Athenian writers; and the authority with which they are said to have been invested was a little inconsistent with the freedom of the Athenian democracy. For example, they had power to visit private houses on festive occasions, such as weddings, and to see that the lawful number of guests, which was thirty, was not exceeded. This savours somewhat of a later age. If the Gynæconomi were a Solonian institution, their functions were perhaps more limited in the early times.
From the passage in Plutarch, as well as from Aristophanes and other sources, we may collect, (what indeed is natural enough,) that, when the women had their seasons of indulgence, as at the Thesmophoria, the Bacchic mysteries, and the like, they indemnified themselves for the dull seclusion to which they were ordinarily condemned. (See Volume III. Appendix VI. pp. 281, 307.)
With respect to play-going, the better opinion is, that the women were allowed to see tragedies, but not comedies. (Volume III. Appendix VII. p. 323.) Becker however has shown, that they sat separate from the men. (Charicles, Transl. p. 408.)
It might perhaps have been expected, that it would have been a part of a wife's duty to go to market, to purchase provisions for the house. It is certain however, that this duty never devolved upon the wife of an Athenian citizen, who was well to do in the world, and could afford to keep a slave; which almost every respectable Athenian did; for slaves were numerous and cheap, and carrying, as well as other manual labour, was considered undignified even in a man. The marketing therefore was done by the slaves, male and female. This was the ordinary rule. Poverty of course made an exception; and there were women, even the wives of citizens, who sold articles in the market, such as bread, fruit, herbs, chaplets, &c. We have seen how Euxitheus complains of the prejudice excited against him in his township because his mother sold ribbons (ante, page 309). And the taunts of the comic poet about the mother of Euripides are well known. (See the Charicles, Transl. pp. 287, 469.)
It being deemed of so much importance to preserve feminine modesty, one would suppose that the men would take especial care to conduct themselves with decorum in the presence of females, and to abstain from rude or indelicate language. That good taste and propriety required this, was undoubtedly the general opinion of the Athenians, as we know from their writings; though there is too much reason to suppose that the duty was often violated. (See the Oration against Midias, Vol. III. p. 91.) Becker, referring to this passage, and quoting the words of Terence, "pudet dicere hâc præsente verbum turpe," says-"A beautiful observance, had it sprung from true moral grounds, and not rather from motives of respect to the kúpios, whoever he might be "-(Charicles, p. 472). It was
undoubtedly an affront to the husband or guardian of an Athenian lady, to speak bad language in her presence; indeed it was an act of outrage in a stranger to intrude at all into the female apartments, and we have seen that Pantænetus treated this as a ground of action against the intruder, (ante, p. 240.) Demosthenes however gives us to understand, that offensive language before females was a thing of itself to be reprobated, irrespective of the insult to the guardian, and was generally repugnant to Athenian sentiment. Does the orator attribute to those whom he addresses a higher tone of sentiment and morality than really belonged to them? Often he does; and it is the policy and duty of a good speaker to do so; but there must be a chord which he can strike in the minds of his hearers, or all appeal to them will be in vain.
The Athenian husband was desirous that his wife should look up to him as the superior being; which she could hardly do, unless he conducted himself as became an Athenian citizen, or, as we should say, a gentleman, (kaλokáуados.) To do anything undignified in his wife's presence would lower him in her esteem. In the oration against Androtion it is spoken of as a hardship, that a man should be driven to hide himself under the bed, in order to escape the taxgatherer, and that he should be seen doing so by his wife.~ (Vol. III. p. 155.) The wife could hardly look up to her husband with respect, unless he were under some corresponding obligations to her. We know from the oration of Andocides against Alcibiades (p. 117,) that, if the husband brought a bad woman into the house, it afforded his wife a legal ground to obtain a separation from him. And ill usage of his wife subjected him to an indictment, as we have seen. (Vol. III. p. 351.)
Looking at the manner in which women were brought up in Athens, and at their general treatment and condition, we can easily suppose, that love (in the sense in which that word is understood in Christian countries) had but little to do with the formation of Athenian marriages. It was indeed a rare thing, that a woman's personal qualities were taken much into account. The case of Callias, who fell in love with Elpinice, the sister of Cimon, and paid her father's debt to the state that he might obtain her hand, may be regarded as an exceptional case. Opportunities for falling in love must have been very scarce. Becker in his Charicles, in order to find a mistress for his hero, (a thing generally considered essential in modern tales,) is obliged to invent an extraordinary incident. When the passion of love was excited, it could not, under the circumstances, have been one of a very refined character.
Marriages were formed chiefly from family and political considerations. An Athenian took a wife to prevent the extinction of his race. This was a duty which he owed to the state, to himself, and to the memory of his ancestors. A religious sentiment was mingled with it. That he should leave those behind him, who would continue to per