Feminism pt. 1: Women in Ancient Times


If so, you are not alone!

Today we are taught that throughout history men have been trying to oppress women. Most people believe that men have always considered women inferior to them and wanted to use them for their own selfish purposes. As Audrey wrestled with this controversy she wondered if this is really the whole truth.

Could there be more to the story? she wanted to know.

Through her research and study she discovered that there definitely is! To her delight, she found proof that the debate about women and womanhood goes back to ancient times. In fact, she learned that the feminist movement as we know it today is new–not even a hundred years old. 

In this insightful and illuminating podcast, Audrey takes us back to the ancients in the Western World and shows us their views, beliefs, and debates about women’s strengths, virtues, and place in society. Throughout this podcast we are privy to original sources from the great thinkers and we get a rare view of both sides of the debate.

In part one of her series on feminism, you will be encouraged and delighted to learn that from the beginning there have been men working to honor and protect women. 

Listener’s Guide:

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast. 

4:27       What makes a woman a hero
9:12        Plato
15:22     Aristotle
18:19     Plutarch
21:29     Telesilla of Argos
24:12     Solon
25:34    Euripides/Andromache
28:17     The Suppliant and Trojan Women
29:45    Aristophanes
30:59    Herodotus
31:35     The Muses and Oracles

“Meno says: ‘A woman’s virtue if you wish to know about that, may also be
easily described: her duty is to order her house, and keep what is indoors,
and obey her husband.’
‘You say, Meno, that there is one virtue of a man, another of a woman,
another of a child, and so on…[but] will not virtue, as virtue, be the same,
whether in a child or a grown-up person, in a woman or in a man?
‘I cannot help feeling, Socrates that this case is different from the others.’
‘But why? Were you not saying that the virtue of man was to order a state,
and the virtue of a woman was to order a house?
‘I did say so.’
‘And can either house or state or anything be well ordered without
temperance and without justice?’
‘Certainly not.’
‘Then both men and women, if they are to be good men and women, must
have the same virtues of temperance and justice.’ ~Plato

“…if the difference consists only in women bearing and men begetting
children, this does not amount to a proof that a woman differs from a man
in respect of the sort of education she should receive.” ~Plato

“Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a guardian; they
differ only in their comparative strength or weakness.”~Plato 

Clearly, then, moral virtue belongs to all of them; but the temperance of a
man and of a woman, or the courage and justice of a man and of a woman,
are not as Socrates maintained, the same; the courage of a man is how in
commanding, of a woman in obeying.”  ~Aristotle 

“…he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.”~Aristotle

“I do not hold the same opinion as Thucydides. For he declares that the best woman is
she about whom there is the least talk among persons outside regarding either censure or
commendation, feeling that the name of the good woman, like her person,
ought to be shut up indoors and never go out.” ~Plutarch

“… man’s virtues and woman’s virtues are one and the same.”~Plutarch

“…let us not postulate many different kinds of bravery, wisdom, and justice…” ~Plutarch

“…many deeds worthy of mention have been done by women both in association with other women and by themselves alone…”~Plutarch   

She, as they say, was the daughter of a famous house but sickly in body, and so she sent to the god to ask about
health; and when an oracle was given her to cultivate the Muses, she followed the god’s advice, and by devoting herself to
poetry and music she was quickly relieved of her trouble and was greatly admired by the women for her poetic art.

“I’m one for sticking to my principles.” ~Andromache by Euripides

“It’s not beauty but fine qualities that keep a husband.” ~Andromache by Euripides

“Shameful is shameful everywhere, Greece or not Greece.” ~Andromache by Euripides

Books from this episode:


Plutarch’s reading on women called Bravery of Women