While for other Greek women, the age was around their early teens. Plutarch wrote that “the men of Sparta always obeyed their wives.” Aristotle was even more critical of the influence women had in politics arguing that it was contributing to the downfall of the country.

Also, despite the many glowing freedoms of Spartan women compared to women in other provinces, the state still preferred male babies in order to create a large and powerful military force. I learned a lot. And a vast majority of the people living in Sparta were slaves. ( Log Out /  She advised them to clear the wax off the tablet and thus found the secret message. This was done so that women had the maximum amount of their breeding years to produce babies. Yet despite all their relative freedoms, women in Sparta were still treated like breeding machines by the state. Social and Political Roles of Women in Athens and Sparta, SCANDALOUS” SPARTAN WOMEN: ), She was also a Spartan queen. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Literacy was a skill limited to the elite. In the cult of Helen, women used objects such as mirrors, eye-liners, combs, and perfume bottles.

In the face of the siege, the Spartan council of elders wanted to send the Spartan women off the Crete for their safety. Spartan Warrior Armor. Very interesting article. By 600 BCE Sparta had conquered her neighbors in the southern half of the Peloponnese. A Spartan woman was also not forced to relinquish her children, because the identity of the child’s biological father was not vitally important.

According to Plutarch’s testimony, Spartans practiced infanticide in order to weed unhealthy children out of their society [1]. Men in their mid twenties or thirties. While much of history has concentrated on the role of Spartan men, it cannot be ignored that the Spartan women were a vital part of the warrior society. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Women were allowed to divorce with little consequences.

This might not seem that close in age to us modern folk today. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. As fellow racers, we understand an obstacle has been put in your path, and we’re here to support you.

Eileithyia was the goddess of childbirth and midwifery. Aristotle, Politics 1269b–1270a. Ancient Sparta is one of the most well-known cities in Classical Greece. We don’t want anything to stand in the way of you achieving your goals. (Polybius XII.6b.8) Along with plural marriage, older men seem to have allowed younger, more fit men, to impregnate their wives. One thing that made Sparta unique among the Greek city-states is that the girl babies were just as well fed as their male counterparts. Spartan warriors wore a large bronze helmet, that protected their head, while still offering substantial visibility.

Sparta was one of the most efficient and strongest of the Leading Greek city states in its time. However, it is unclear whether this practice of infanticide applied just to boys, or boys and girls.

Since boys left home at an early age, and husbands and fathers spent a great part of their time in military training with other men, the women had much more time and autonomy to themselves than other women in Greece. The women helped build a defensive trench, supplied the troops with defensive weapons, refreshment and took care of the wounded. (Eleithyiae, Zeus & the birth of Athena | Athenian black-figure kothos C6th B.C.). Sparta was a totalitarian, military society where the state ruled almost every aspect of life.

For every Spartan, there were eight helots.

The spartan exercise regimen for girls was to make them every bit as fit as their brothers. Young Spartans Exercising, From The National Gallery of London. ( Log Out /  During the Hellenistic period it stopped, and under the Romans it was restored.[3]. While entertaining, a large part of the movie was completely inaccurate. (“Herodotus ”History” [Translated into English]”.

Instead she led the women into the battle effort. Like the rest of the Mycenaean-era armies, it was depicted as composed largely of infantry, equipped with short swords, spears, and Dipylon-type ("8"-shaped simple round bronze shields). Classical Quarterly 31 (1), Powell, Anton (2001), Athens and Sparta: constructing Greek The face that launched a thousand ships and all that. Herodotus says that the bigamy of Anaxandridas II was un-Spartan (Herodotus, Histories, V.40.2) but Polybius wrote that it was common at his time, and a time-honoured practice. Aristotle, Politics 1269b. To that end, Spartans learned from an early age discipline, hardship, and the skills of a soldier. (Plutarch, Parallel Lives: Life of Pyrrhus § 27.2). There are surviving statues from the period showing women playing musical instruments. After all, the Spartans believed that strong women produced strong sons and warriors. [13], When a warrior left for battle his mother would say, “Come home with your shield or upon it.”. The Spartans did not know what to do with the seemingly blank wax-tablet once they received it. But since the health and strength of the child was a bigger priority in Sparta than the number of children, getting married later made more sense. So women took pride in the warrior sons they birthed and raised. [8][9]. One outsider who ate with the Spartans at the barracks remarked, “Now I know why Spartan’s don’t fear death.”, On the night of the wedding, the bride would have her hair cut short, be dressed in a man’s cloak and sandals before being left alone in a dark room, where they would be visited and ritually “captured” by their new husband. Change ). Consequently, cults focused on fertility, health and beauty.

Sparta was a totalitarian, military society where the state ruled almost every aspect of life. But anyways, Gorgo is one of the few female figures actually named by the Greek historian Herodotus, and was well-known for her political judgment and wisdom. (In fact the word “laconic” is derived from laconia, because the Spartans were known to speak in a concise, and to the point manner.)

Sparta was not some model democracy with warriors fighting for freedom. Though there is evidence from the classical period that women wrote letters to their sons while they were away in battle. Sparta at its very core was a military state, and just as laws were put in place to ensure the health and fitness of the men, there were also laws that encouraged strength and health of the women. They could own property, intermingle with the opposite sex, get an education, exercise and some even competed in the Olympic games (a thing forbidden to most women in Greece). 978-0-415-26280-4. I will elaborate on the cults below. According to Herodotus’s Histories, Demaratus, then in exile at the Persian court, sent a warning to Sparta about Xerxes’s pending invasion. In terms of other interesting sexual practices, some historians suggest that the Spartans engaged in polyandry: a practice where women were allowed to have sex with multiple male lovers. Cynisca was a Spartan princess and the first woman to win an Olympic victory. in Classical Antiquity, London: Pimlico, ISBN 978-0-712-66054-9, Dillon, Matthew (2007), “Were Spartan Women Who Died in Childbirth The Spartans were highly organised and their land based army was almost untouchable, both in its battle skills and it’s mastery of warfare tactics and fighting.Sparta is believed to have begun around the 8th century BC, growing stronger in status and power till it reached its high point around the 4th – 6th century BC. Bearing and raising children was considered the most important role for women in Spartan society, equal to male warrior in the Spartan army. They did not need to fear losing their home and property, because they lived among the community as equal citizens. Thanks for posting this. Life in the Spartan state was very difficult and harsh. Is Paganism the Fastest Growing Religion in the United States? Therefore, the Spartan women had more time to participate in matters such as governance, agriculture, logistics, fitness, art, music, etc. Spartan women also typically married men who were closer to them in age. Since Sparta was a military state where property was divided and provided by the state, rather than familial inheritance, strength and health was the focus of sex and childbearing – not marriage and family. But in Sparta, the strength of women as well as men was of vital importance to the state. In reading this article, you must disillusion yourself with most of what you learned in the 300 movies. And it cannot be ignored that the strong Spartan women were the backbone of the warrior state. She also had a cult in Sparta. Until then, husbands and wives could only meet with one another in secret. So it was encouraged to feed girls enough for them to become big and strong. Learn how your comment data is processed. Ancienthistory.about.com. They were also not discouraged from remarrying. Marriage among the Spartans was different from the rest of Greeks for many reasons.

He attributed the state’s precipitous fall during his lifetime, from being the master of Greece to a second-rate power in less than 50 years, to the fact that Sparta had become a gynocracy whose women were intemperate and loved luxury. I guess after being around dudes forever, you have to make the transition to females go easier somehow. The state decided the fate of the child.



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