The Fabric of the City: Imaging Textile Production in Classical Athens

by Sheramy D. Bundrick

Hesperia, Volume 77, Issue 2
Page(s): 283-334
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40205750
Year: 2008


Scenes of textile production on Athenian vases are often interpreted as confirming the oppression of women, who many argue were confined to "women's quarters" and exploited as free labor. However, reexamination of the iconography--together with a reconsideration of gender roles and the archaeology of Greek houses dating to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.--suggests that these images idealize female contributions to the household in a positive way. The scenes utilize the dual metaphor of weaving and marriage to express the harmonia of oikos and polis, a theme particularly significant under the evolving Athenian democracy.