Ancient Greek Daily Life

Daily life in ancient Greece was very organised, but everyday activities were quite different depending on whether you were a man, woman, child, or slave.

Facts about Ancient Greek Daily Life

  • In Athens, only men could be full citizens and vote on important issues
  • Men went out to work and women stayed at home to cook, clean and look after the children
  • Jobs for men included farmer, government worker, doctor, teacher, fisherman, craftsman, and soldier
  • Women in wealthier homes had slaves to help with household chores
  • In poorer homes, the working day began at dawn and ended at dusk
  • Only boys went to school, starting at the age of seven
  • Girls were taught how to cook and clean, and most were married by the age of 14
  • Daily life was different in Sparta; boys and girls went to school and men and women trained as warriors

Daily Life for Men

Free men (not slaves) left home each day to go to work in the city or in the fields.

Rich men owned land and had slaves to work it, but most free men living in the countryside worked as farmers or fishermen. Crops included olives, grapes and beans.

Free men in the city worked in skilled jobs such as government official or teacher, and some owned their own workshop where they worked as craftsmen.

To be a citizen of Athens, you had to be born in the city and be a male.

Daily Life for Women

Women had no legal rights and could only do what their husbands permitted them to do.

They rarely left home, only going out to fetch water, shop at the market, or pray – if their husbands allowed them.

Wealthy women would send slaves out to fetch water, and they were expected to stay at home and keep themselves occupied with household chores and looking after the children.

Poorer women in the countryside had no choice but to go out to work in the fields. All women made clothes for the family by spinning thread and weaving fabric.

Public water fountains were popular meeting places for women to catch up on gossip.

Daily Life for Children

Only boys were sent to school from the age of seven.

Subjects included reading, writing, music, and learning how to debate. Girls stayed at home to learn how to cook, clean, and care for younger siblings.

Some girls in wealthier families learned how to read and write at home, and some boys from poorer families worked alongside their fathers to learn the family trade.

All children were expected to help with household chores, but boys had more free time than girls.

 Ancient Greek children played with toys such as dolls, hoops, and rattles.

Daily Life for Slaves

Life could be very hard for slaves, depending on who owned them.

One of the worst jobs was working down the mines. In wealthier homes, slaves did the cooking and cleaning, and took care of the children.

Other daily tasks included escorting boys to school, fetching water from the fountain, and buying food from the market.

Slaves made up half the population of Athens.

Daily Life in Sparta

In Sparta, women were expected to look after the home and care for the children, but they didn’t need permission to do as they pleased.

Both men and women worked and trained as warriors, and both boys and girls were taught to read and write at school.

At the age of seven, Spartan children left home to be trained and toughened up as warriors with harsh physical training and regular beatings.

 

Questions and Answers

True or false: In Athens, men and women shared jobs around the house.

False. Women did all the housework.

True or false: In Athens, girls learned to read and write at school.

False. Only boys went to school.

True or false: In Ancient Greece, fetching water from the public fountain was a daily task for many slaves.

True. Slaves and poorer women with no slaves fetched water every day.

True or false: In Sparta, only men trained as warriors.

False. Women also trained as warriors.

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