ABSTRACT

Between 403 bce, when the Periklean Citizenship Law was reinstated, and the 330s when the rise of Macedon altered the landscape of Athens and began effecting changes both on Athens’ democracy and on its treatment of foreigners in the city, the legal status of metic women seems to have stabilized. This was the period in which metic women faced the most restrictions and when we have the most evidence for their daily activities and legal struggles. It is also the period when the most confusion seems to arise among scholars over who was and who was not a prostitute among metic women. This confusion is due to a handful of orations, such as the sensational Against Naeira ([Dem.] 59), that accuse women of living indecent lives and of either prostituting themselves or others. Some of these women were, of course, prostitutes. But others do not lend themselves to such identification and there are hints throughout the texts that their occupations and statuses (beyond being metics) are not so easily resolved. Inherent prejudices are clearly manifested against women in public spaces, against women without family connections, against women of the lower classes, and against women in certain occupations. Metic women found themselves locked out of the citizen body and, in some instances, even without basic protections in law. The metic women whose lives we learn of most frequently in the fourth-century sources seem to have fallen prey to the fully developed ideology of the metic woman in which they all became transgressive women. Women who did or could not conform to standards of womanly arête by marrying metic men, in particular, found themselves targets of extreme forms of this prejudice. The ban on marriage that finally went into effect sometime in the 380s or 370s erected yet another barrier for metic women and we see evidence of alternative arrangements being developed for now unmarriage-able metic women, arrangements intended to provide a level of security in an increasingly dangerous city.