Ancient Civilizations View of Women's Rights

Curtis P. Wildflower
December 3rd 2009
History 101

Ancient Civilizations View of Women’s Rights

Throughout history women have played a major role in every society, kingdom, and culture.   Since the first civilization of the Sumerians to our modern day world, women have been given certain rights, rules, and privileges.   With each evolving society a woman’s freedoms and power has had a major influence amongst wars, empires, kings and commoners alike.   In a world that has been generally dominated by the rule of males, you cannot overlook or underestimate the effectiveness of a woman’s ability to rule over men and influence all aspects of culture.
The majority of people today would agree that the bulk of women’s rights have come to them only in the last one hundred years.   Surprisingly, since the very first civilized society of the Sumerians women have been protected by many laws.   Nearly three dozen of Hammurabi’s 282 law codes dealt specifically with the protections of women.   The codes focused much attention on marriage and put a lot of responsibility on the man of the household to provide for his wife and children.   In case of divorce the law codes also allowed women to collect certain compensations and goods so that she would not be left penniless.   Men were not allowed to take full advantage of their wives or daughters and the laws permitted women to have a choice regarding marriage duties and family matters (Hammurabi, 118).   In ancient Sparta and in the days of Alexander the Great women who possessed strong and cunning character also gained more respect amongst warrior cultures.   During the time of Alexander’s rule a Thebian woman by the name of Timoclea took justice in her own hands by trapping and killing her abusive captor.   When she was taken before Alexander and spoke of her defense, she was admired and released for her courage (Plutarch, 330-333).
  Religion also played a part in the freedom of women.   Many women became martyrs of the Christian...