Abstract – This paper, focusing on classical Athens, studies the forms of assistance granted to the widows by the polis, or by the polis delegated to the oikos. The epitaphs preserved in Thucydides, Lysias and Plato’s Menexenus bear witness of the Athenians’ respectful and sensitive attitude towards widows, which however did not imply any form of direct support, unlike the orphan case (§ 1.). Legal assistance was indeed provided by the eponymous archon, but only to pregnant widows, who could bear legitimate male descent; other forms of public assistance are not attested (§ 2.). Otherwise, the guardianship was delegated by the polis to the oikos through the kyrios; besides, remarriage was not infrequent, particularly for young widows in childbearing age (§ 3.). In this light, the city’s attitude towards widows was respectful and even sensitive, but appears far from uninterested: in fact the oikos, rather than the polis, actually guaranteed subsistence to widows, even to war ones, while the polis chiefly cared for legal assistance for those who could generate legitimate citizens (§ 4.).
|Translated title of the contribution||[Autom. eng. transl.] The city and widows: a form of public (and private) assistance|
|Title of host publication||ra marginalità e integrazione. Aspetti dell’assistenza sociale nel mondo greco e romano. Atti delle giornate di studio Università Europea di Roma, 7-8 novembre 2012|
|Number of pages||23|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|