Spartan Women

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ROLE AND STATUS OF SPARTAN WOMEN

Spartan Women played a pivotal role in a society which was renowned for its military power. (Womens Role in Society, 2010) In no other city or state were women so well incorporated into a society (Womens Role in Society, 2010), which enabled them to have more power, influence and freedom than neighbouring Greek states. (makedbyteachers, 2009) Although Spartan women did not have citizenship, could not hold political office or serve in the military, they were well respected and had status. (yorkiee, 2012) Their most important role and duty, was to give birth to healthy, strong Spartan babies who would grow to become warriors. To achieve this, the Spartans believed in physical training for women (which was regarded as some of the best in Greece) to stay strong and fit. Xenophon tells us; “if both parents were strong, their children would be more robust” (Xenaphon, Ancient Greece ). In addition to this, women also had the duty of running the household and had the opportunity to inherit, have ownership of land and accumulate wealth. According to Aristotle, “women owned as much as two fifths of the Spartan land” (Aristotle), in the fourth century BC.

Women of Sparta had the primary duty of producing physically and mentally strong children. (makedbyteachers, 2009) Xenophon tells us “for free women the most important job was to bear children”. (Xenaphon, CONSTITUTION OF THE LACEDAEMONIANS) They were expected to train regularly in order to maintain a high level of fitness (makedbyteachers, 2009) and strength to prepare them for childbearing. Paul Cartledge tells us that these women “threw the javelin and discus…performed gymnastics, all completely naked and in full public view” (Cartledge, 2003). To the surrounding states of Sparta this kind of behaviour was considered immodest. Athenian playwright Euripides illustrates his bias view of Spartan women in his play Andromache; “bare thighs and loose clothes to wrestle and run races...
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