What Was the Role of Family in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Greece, the family was considered the fundamental unit of society. The role of family in Greek society was significant and multifaceted. The family structure was patriarchal, meaning that the father was the head of the household and responsible for providing for his family.

Family Structure in Ancient Greece

The Greek family structure was centered around the oikos, or household. The oikos included not only immediate family members but also slaves and servants who lived under one roof. In addition, extended family members such as grandparents and uncles might also live in the same household.

The father served as the head of the household, responsible for making all decisions regarding his family’s affairs. He had complete control over his wife, children, and slaves. The wife’s primary role was to manage the household and supervise domestic duties such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare.

Role of Children in Ancient Greece

Children were highly valued in Ancient Greece as they were seen as essential for continuing one’s lineage. Boys were especially prized because they would carry on their father’s name and inherit his property.

Education was crucial for both boys and girls in Ancient Greece. Boys received formal education from private tutors or attended public schools called gymnasia where they studied subjects like philosophy, mathematics, music, poetry, and sports. Girls were educated at home by their mothers or female tutors in skills such as weaving and spinning.

Marriage in Ancient Greece

Marriage in Ancient Greece was arranged by the parents of both parties involved. The purpose of marriage was not just to unite two individuals but also to strengthen alliances between families.

Married women had limited rights in Ancient Greece; their primary role was to bear children to continue their husband’s lineage. Divorce existed but only if initiated by a man; women had no say in whether or not they could end a marriage.


In conclusion, the family played a significant role in Ancient Greek society. The patriarchal structure of the family provided stability and order, with the father as the head of the household.

Children were highly valued and received formal education, while marriage was arranged by parents to strengthen alliances between families. The Ancient Greek family structure may differ from modern-day families, but it played an essential role in shaping Greek society.