Cynisca - spartan princess and olympic victor - Interview

Essay by AMeyers July 2005

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Woman's World

While most women in the Greek world are kept in seclusion and forbidden to learn any kind of skill in sports, riding or hunting, Spartan women by contrast were brought up from girlhood to excel at these things and to disdain household chores. One such woman by the name of Cynisca took the Greek world by storm when she won the four-horse chariot race this past month. Cynisca embodies royalty, fortitude and resilience, and it is for these assets that society, both male and female, has welcomed her with open arms.

What's it like to be the first women ever to win an event at the Olympics?

Honestly, it's immensely overwhelming. In a sense I've achieved something no other has been able accomplish. I've broken through boundaries that I never thought I'd be able to conquer. It's the best feeling to know that you've reached the top, the pinnacle.

Does it feel even better knowing that these barriers you've surmounted have been created through the power of men?

Of course it does. The Greek world, especially Athens, has been ruled and controlled by men for such a long time and now, with one achievement, I've allowed other women to follow my footsteps. Ultimately this could lead to more respect and equality given to women in Greece. I'm amazed to think that I created a new and exciting future for the female generations to come.

And all Greeks will know you created this future. There is an inscription on the base of your statue which Apelleas kindly built, what does this inscription read?

The inscription says, 'Kings of Sparta were my forefathers and my brothers. Victorious Cynisca with her chariot drawn by swift-footed horses erected this statue. I assert that I am the only women in all Greece who...