[Gortyn Law Code, 6th & 5th centuries BCE, photographed by Olaf Tausch]
[Source: Wikimedia Commons]
A man at Gortyn controlled his own property and that of his children, but not his wife’s. If he mismanaged it, control of his children’s shares passed their mother. Since men were supposed to concentrate primarily on their military duties, however, it is likely that women managed most of the property themselves anyways, at least once they were of an age to move out of their parents’ homes. In the event of widowhood or a divorce, the wife could take away her own property, half of what it produced, and half of what she had woven in the household. There is some evidence that slaves could own property as well, though perhaps it would be more accurate to say they held it. Upon separation from her husband, a female slave took “what she has” back to her former master. It was in her possession and remained so, but never truly belonged to her.
The Law Code of Gortyn (Crete), c. 450 BCE - Internet History Sourcebooks Project
Laws Relating to Women in Gortyn, Crete - Diotima
Aristotle, Politics 2.1272a - Persueus
Pomeroy, Sarah. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Pantheon Books, 1995.