In ancient Greece, the social standing of men and women was very different, as were their activities and the settings in which they performed them.
A Greek woman lived in submission, first to her father and later to her husband, and marriage was a key moment in her life. Nuptial lebetes, vessels that contained the water used in the ritual wedding baths, were often decorated with painted scenes of the bride receiving gifts from her female friends just before her marriage. After the ceremony, as a wife, she would be socially invisible. Her principal activities took place in the home, which she would only leave on special occasions.
Greek men, on the other hand, participated in many activities off-limits to women. Education, for instance, was only offered to boys. From early childhood they learned music, reading, writing and mathematics, preparing them to be good citizens. In classical Athens, great importance was attached to giving boys the finest schooling, whereas girls were simply trained to run a household and rear children.
Another social activity in which women had no part was the symposium, an exclusive gathering of men from the same social class: those responsible for governing and defending the city, protecting their homes, and managing their wives. At a symposium, men enjoyed conversation and shared music and drink. It was a banquet where the male citizens of the polis could discuss politics, literature or philosophy while strengthening social ties and forging bonds of friendship.