Citizens, Metics, and Slaves:

The population of Athens was made up of three distinct groups:  citizens, or men who were of Athenian birth and free-born; metics, or foreigners who lived in Athens but who had no citizenship rights, and slaves

It is estimated that in 431 B.C. there were roughly 50,000 adult male citizens, 25,000 metics, and 100,000 slaves in Athens.

Metics were non-Athenians who generally found the cosmopolitan city of Athens more appealing than their own homelands.  Metics could not own property, which was crippling in Athenian society, but they could hold jobs for property owners and they did have to pay a tax.

Slavery was a necessary institution in Athenian society.  Slaves were the property of their owners and could be bought and sold at any time.  They held no enforceable legal rights and had no citizenship rights.  Slaves had a variety of jobs, from working inside the home to working in the fields to acting as attendants – actually, some slaves became quite close to their owners and their families and were well-loved.

The oikos was made up of the family of the landowner and all attending properties, which included slaves, dwellings, and tools. 

In general, a male citizen was in charge of the oikos, but the upkeep was left to his wife.  Males spent most of their day out of the home in the agora or gymnasia.  Women were to stay at home to raise the children and keep the house running smoothly.  Male children were allowed outside education, while female children were educated in domestic arts at home with their mother and servants

Women were not technically citizens, but their family was important.  For a woman to marry well, both her mother and father had to be Athenian born. 

Marriages were arranged usually when a woman was 14 and a man about 30.  She was expected to cook, clean, spin and weave, and sometimes keep accounts and handle servants.  Their life was entirely in their home.

Women were generally not allowed in public, and their association with men was limited to their husbands, sons, and close family members.  They even had their own quarters, called the gunaikonitis, where they spent their time and raised their children.

There were women in Athens who were not wives and mothers but who served a purpose.  Prostitution was a legal, taxable institution in Athens.  Concubines could become part of the oikos if a man decided to bring her and keep her in the home.  The sexual mores of Athenians differed greatly from ours.

Flute girls were hired entertainers who not only played flutes at symposia, or dinner parties, but also provided sexual entertainment for the guests.

Hetairai were well-educated courtesans who were courted for both beauty and intelligence.  Most were wealthy and had wealthy clients or “friends.”  None of these women were considered marriageable,

The typical male citizen spent his time in the agora, where he did his business and greeted friends, or at the gymnasia or dinner parties with friends.  Male citizens usually had a good amount of leisure time, thanks to slaves.  Some consider slavery institutional in developing democracy, since it allowed men time for public participation.

Men were at home usuall for meals and sleeping, other wise they were out.  Business was done in the morning, and pleasure filled up the rest of the day. 

Gymnasia were large parks that offered the male citizen places to exercise, bathe, talk, read, or listen to musicians.

Men often hosted dinner parties at their home (which women could not attend) and provided food and entertainment for their friends

Children remained in the domain of women until a suitable age for education. 

Boys were drilled early in grammar, music, and exercise.  When they turned 18 they took the oath of citizenship and served in the military for two years.

Girls were allowed to play at home with sisters, cousins, and slaves.  They were usually married at about 14, so they spent their younger years learning how to keep house with their mothers.

Every class in Athenian society participated in some religious activity or another.

Religion in Athens was based around festivals, which were major public rituals that usually lasted several days.  Women in particular played a great role in ritual – priestesses were heads of over 40 cults in Athens.  Festivals usually had processions, sacrifices and contests, but each festival had its own special rite or ritual. 

Individual religion was based on the gods and goddesses of Greek belief, and prayers, sacrifices and supplications were made to