While it is sometimes thought that free Athenian women were hemmed in by surveillance within the oikos, this article argues that the obstacle that impeded them when they attempted to control property was that they were excluded from the impersonal and formal systems of surveillance of male citizens. Athenian public life, lived in the view of others, dramatically extended the agency of those within it. While women could compensate for their legal incapacities by cultivating the personal trust of men, this required them to treat some of the people closest to them instrumentally, thus transforming their affectionate relationships.

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