A Critical Book Review: Spartan Women by: Sarah B. Pomeroy
It goes without saying that during the time of Ancient Greeks, the lives of human beings and the things considered important vary greatly compared to those living today. More heavily centered on male-dominance and government, the land of Sparta was very different from its surrounding Greek counterparts. It was known for not only its great warriors, but also for its unusual treatment of women. By unusual, I don’t mean treatment of inequality or lack of superiority compared to men, because women were just as valued as men, if not more; for they bared the gift of life. “Spartan Women” takes an inside look of the personal lives of Spartans, and in particular, Spartan women living during this era.
From the very first moment a Spartan woman is born, her treatment was incomparable to that of other Greek women. She is valued, because she brings the gift of life. Throughout the book, Pomeroy examines the differences between the lives of females paralleled to males. If we were to compare a female infant to a male infant born into Sparta, it was much more stressful to be a male. At birth, Spartans practiced infanticide on male infants, and deformed or weak babies would be thrown into a chasm on Mount Taygetos. This is a form of eugenics, according to Pomeroy, and it ensured a strong military for the state, by only allowing physically strong infants the gift of being reared. Although every male was entitled to owning land and receiving an education, they must first pass the physical test put on by the state that classified a physically fit male. Not all male babies were capable of being warriors, but as long as it didn’t have obvious deformities, it passed the test. Female babies were not scrutinized in the same fashion as males were, since their main objective wasn’t to be warriors. They were still valued, because even “weak” females could still grow into mothers of warriors.
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