Ancient Sparta and Athens Comparison + Contrast: Women

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When comparing women, or anyone for that matter, from different nationalities, it is always certain that differences will be apparent. But, in my opinion, no two females from different nationalities contrast as well as those from Sparta and Athens. They seem very similar at a first glance, but, when digging deep into the pages of history; we see that this couldn't be more to the contrary.

In both Sparta and Athens, the woman's place was in the home – but, not in the same capacity. In Athens, it was the proper etiquette for a woman to be submissive and obedient. They were to stay at home, bearing and educating children, spinning and weaving, keeping the home tidy and preparing or, at least, overseeing the preparation, of food. Spartan women, on the other hand, were almost the complete opposite to this. They were permitted to own property without the "safekeeping" of a male, which, according to Aristotle, who estimated in the 4th century BCE that two-fifths of Sparta's land was owned by women, was one of the main reasons for the "weak" Spartan society. With most men away from home on a regular basis due to training for, and taking part in, wars, women would become the "default" principal figure during that period, and, when the husbands returned, they had no authority. Sue Blendell, an associate lecturer in Classical Studies at the Open University in the UK, refers to Spartan women's dominant role as some that "was accepted and possibly even officially encouraged".

From a young age, Spartan women were taught to protect themselves, and also how to read and write, whereas Athenian women were taught how to do house-duties and such. Education, in the traditional sense that we class it as, was thought of highly in Spartan society and girls were given the same teachings as boys – the girls even had to participate in the same tests of strength that the boys did. Women participating in anything physical was very much frowned upon in Athens, though, and women weren't...
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