a1 University of Leeds
Demosthenes' client Euxitheos is attempting to defend his claim to citizenship, and finds himself obliged to counteract the prejudice raised by his opponent Euboulides from the fact that his mother works, and has worked, in menial wage labour. The implication is that no citizen woman would sink so low; therefore, she is no citizen, and so neither is he. His response is defensive: he acknowledges that such labour is a source of prejudice (42), but argues that people often find themselves obliged to undertake such demeaning work through poverty, which is deserving of the jury's sympathy, and in any case has no bearing on questions of citizenship (45). He does not challenge the assumptions behind the prejudice, suggesting that he expects the jury to share them, and this might encourage us to extrapolate from the passage to a set of common values held by Athenian citizens, namely that paid work by women is degrading, embarrassing and only acceptable as a temporary expedient under the compulsion of poverty. If we then align these attitudes with the implications elsewhere in the orators that women led lives of seclusion, usually confined indoors and largely separated from the exterior male world, we might be inclined to conclude that the labour of women was also confined to the oikos and almost entirely distinct from the labour of males, not least in having little or no monetary aspect, a point which the usual view of the economic capacity of Athenian women appears to confirm.
* Earlier versions of this paper were given to the Women in Antiquity seminar in Oxford and to the Department of History in Manchester; I am grateful to the audiences on both occasions for helpful suggestions and reactions. I am also much obliged to the CQ referee and to Paul Millett for their criticism, which produced a substantially improved final version.