Using appropriate sources, DESCRIBE the role of women in the Spartan society. (10 Marks)
Spartan Women played a huge role in a society that was famous for its military power. These women were no where near the same as any other Greek woman. In no other city or state were women so well incorporated into society. In no other city or state did women receive as many privileges, as much freedom or hold the same economic power and influence, if any, as the Spartiate women.
Women were very much freed from their domestic duties and treated like men in a society that was predominantly slaves and helots. Their role in life was simple and straight forward. The power and freedom that these women possessed began at birth. The unwritten laws of Sparta state that female infants and children must be given the same care and food as their brothers. Unlike girls in other parts of Greece, Spartan girls were not brought up to perform such duties as weaving and spinning. Nor did they do the work of a man on the estate while their husbands and fathers were away fighting at war. Such duties in Sparta were fit only for helots or slaves. Instead of performing menial tasks, the girls would undergo physical training with their brothers and took part in various dancing and singing competitions.
The unique upbringing and training of the Spartan girls was put in place by Lycurgus for one main reason. The main role of women in the Spartan society was to conceive and give birth to strong and healthy male children who are worthy of becoming strong and successful warriors. They believed that if a woman were to be fed properly and were to train with the men and become strong themselves that there children will too be strong and worthy of a place in the Spartan military. Xenophon states that “Lycurgus thought that slave women were sufficient to supply clothing. As he considered child-bearing the most important function of free women, he prescribed physical training for women no less than...
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