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Patri- vs. Matri- Societies

I. Evidence from the Homeric poems.

A. drastic change in Greek society between period of the myths and 5th-century Greece

B. earliest state of affairs visible in parts of Homeric poems

C. these poems themselves were written down by a post-Homeric society which emphasized its own social value system

1. poems reflect blending of pre-IE or Aegean values with the IE systems

2. matriarchy vs. patriarchy

3. matriliny vs. patriliny

II. Uxorilocality

A. Murdock's study

1. patrilineal systems are almost always virilocal (96.2%); i.e., newlyweds live at husband's family's residence

2. the other 3.8% are bilocal, neolocal and duolocal, never uxorilocal

3. uxorilocality associated with

a. matriliny 66% of the time

b. bilaterality 22% of the time

B. Matriliny and matriarchy suggested in Greek myths

1. Helen:

a. weak father (Tyndareus)

b. Zeus' paternity gives "heroine" status: divine birth justifies child born out of wedlock to wife raised in matrilineal society condoning extramarital sex and married to patrilineal husband

c. husband Menelaus becomes king of her land,

d. despite brothers (Castor and Polydeuces)

e. has only daughter (Hermione): lack of male heir!

2. Clytemnestra

a. marries away, perhaps because of rights of sister Helen

b. ties with daughters over son

c. Agamemnon slays her heiress-apparent, Iphigenia

d. lack of fidelity to husband

3. Alcmene

a. Amphitryon lives with wife's family and rules even though she has a brother

b. story of divine birth of Heracles (à la Helen)

C. Pattern of Matriliny and Patriliny

1. pattern of subsistence that fosters matriliny

a. men do tasks that require danger or long absence

(1) hunting

(2) fishing

(3) trading: no archaeological evidence of female Minoan traders

b. women do tasks that complement child care

(1) gardening

(2) household chores: Aegean women probably make textiles for trading husbands

Penelope's loom

2. original migrant IE men took their wives with them; cp. shield-wives of Iliad

3. IE patrilineal "overlay" on the pre-existing Aegean matriliny

a. incoming IE males married resident non IE females

b. strong IE male outriders married strong Aegean female householders

D. Phaiaikia

1. power of Arete

a. Odysseus supplicates her

b. she makes decisions about strangers

c. she is arbiter of quarrels

2. matriliny: Odysseus offered hand of Nausicaa and the kingdom

3. two-sided economy:

a. men run harbor and women the house

b. women are pivotal in indigenous marriage inheritance and subsistence systems

c. IE bid to control these lands via marriage

E. Kin vs. Land

1. ties of LAND important to indigenous Aegean peoples

a. ties with female deities

b. ties through female line (Matriliny)

2. while ties to kin important to IE migrants

a. social relationship, kin-group, blood-ties

b. rule over bands of men not territory

c. separation from kin more serious punishment than not banishment from home

3. thus Menelaus' concern to GET HELEN BACK, since she carried bloodline to Lakedaimonian throne

4. barrenness of Hermione is IE attempt to break matriliny

F. Ariadne

1. powerful Aegean woman at home: help for Theseus

2. loss of power away from home: abandonment by Theseus

3. Graves' "faded goddess" status (cp. Helen the heroine)

G. Scylla

1. another powerful Aegean woman: attempt to betray father and obtain attractive consort (Minos)

2. power play by Aegean female foiled by patrilineal son of Zeus (Minos)

H. Ithaca

1. throne probably matrilineal before IE Laertes married Anticleia

2. marriage of Anticleia and Laertes

a. uxorilocality

(1) status of Laertes

(a) never king of Ithaca,

(b) only wife's consort

(c) hence retirement in Odyssey

b. only male surviving issue for marriage (Odysseus)

c. did Laertes only allow a son?

d. Odysseus, son of matriarch, becomes king

3. marriage of Odysseus and Penelope

a. Penelope from matrilineal family

(1) cousin of Helen and Clytemnestra

(2) known only by father's name, not mother's

b. agrees to accept patrilineal system of Odysseus' family

c. she moves to her husband's home (virilocality)

d. Penelope: first patrilineal queen of formerly matrilineal domain

e. with Telemachus as only male issue the patrilineal succession is assured

4. Odysseus' absence

a. puts new social and political arrangement in jeopardy

b. Penelope becomes key to wealth and power of Ithaca

c. suitors

(1) seek wife and throne

(2) hence disdain for Telemachus

d. Penelope: the faithful patrilineal queen

(1) behaves like good patrilineal wife

(2) waits for husband

(3) on verge of "reverting" when Odysseus returns

(4) Homer's contrast with

(a) Clytemnestra, the faithless matrilineal queen

(b) Helen, the anomalous heroine

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