Comparison of Men and Women of Athens and Sparta

Topics: Sparta, Ancient Greece, Battle of Thermopylae Pages: 5 (2045 words) Published: March 27, 2011
Comparison of men and women in Athens & Sparta
When comparing power levels and women’s rights, Sparta was a leader in its time. Athens and Sparta, though both Greek city-states were different in the way they operated. More specifically, Sparta was different in the way that they treated their women. Athenian woman were treated quite appallingly compared to the standards of today’s women. The stem of this difference seems to lie in how these two city-states were governed. Sparta, known for its’ militaristic ways, was an oligarchy and Athens, known for its’ philosophers and thinkers, was a democracy. Sparta’s oligarchy was ruled by a counsel of 5 men, on being a lawmaker or giver. The lawgiver’s name was Lycurgus. Lycurgus was known for his warden-like ways in the training of men for war, but also for his equivalence in the rights of Spartan women. It has been speculated that women’s equality to men sprung from stories “of the Amazons [, warrior women of the Bronze Age, position and bravery] in the Trojan War” (Who were the Amazons?). Athens, on the other hand, was a democracy that acted with the voice of the people through the Senate and the Roman Council. The life of men and women in Athens and Sparta was very different if we look at equality and women rights; the conclusion in the end will be declared as Sparta having more equality and more women rights then in Athens. The Athenian women were kept at low level status like the status of women under Taliban. The reason of this difference was because of the function of the governments of both the states. Sparta was a military oligarchy while Athens was a democracy. While Sparta had a history of producing magnificent fighters, Athens was famous for producing thinkers & philosophers etc. 5 men were supposed to run the Spartan Oligarchy. Athens on the other hand was a democracy, which functioned with the voice of the people through senate and the Roman Council. In Athens, family life was strong as women were utterly dependent on husbands and fathers from a legal view point. They were not entitled to own any property except that of their family. While in Sparta, the rights that women enjoyed were not enjoyed by anyone else, they formed relationships with any men they choose and were comparably stronger in every aspect as compared other women living in Athens. They could own property as they wish. In Athens, women were exclusive to chores like weaving and cooking while in Sparta women were not entitled to any chores and were free to choose to do anything they like. The basic difference between Spartans and the Athenians was about their focus on particular walk of life as Spartan were more devoted to be soldier while Athenians were more inclined towards studying literature, art and music. That is the reason why Spartan never lost a single war between small different states of ancient Greece. It is believed that, in Sparta, when a new baby was born he was checked for any deformities, if he’s cleared then he would be destined to become a soldier and if not then he would be taken out of Sparta and left alone to die of hunger. (Welty 1965)Its hard to determine what was worse the rigorous training which was so rigorous that it might makes a person head spin or letting the new born baby die alone. While in Athens, the life was wonderful and creative, they put more emphasis on education and the male members of the society were free to choose any form of art or science. When comparing women from both nationalities, i.e. women from Athens and Sparta, it is most likely that difference in their lifestyles would be apparent. And that is in fact the case with the women in both these ancient states, and the difference are not minimal they are on the opposite sides of the poles with Spartan women being more free as compared to the women in Athens. In Athens, women mostly belonged to houses, throughout their childhoods they were obliged to obey their fathers, and after their...

References: Blundell, Sue. Women in ancient Greece, Volume 1995, Part 2. New York: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Powell, Anton, and Stephen Hodkinson. The Shadow of Sparta. New York: Routledge: taylor & Francis Group, 2002.
Savage, Charles Albert. The Athenian family: a sociological and legal study, based chiefly on the works of the Attic orators. Baltimore: The Lord Baltimore Press, 1997.
Schrader, Helena P. Leonidas of Sparta: A Boy of the Agoge. London: Wheatmark Inc, 2010.
Welty, Paul Thomas. Man 's cultural heritage: a world history. New York: Lippincott, 1965.
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