Role of Women in Ancient Sparta

Essay by philthelongHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2006

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- According to Lykurgus "the purpose of girl's education was to produce healthy bodies so that they can undergo more child bearing".

- To breed strong, fit champions and warriors who would defend the city with total obedience and courage

- Plutarch wrote that women were noted for their freedom and respect, which mainly derived from Lykurgus

- Mother love was replaced by a mother's pride in her son's bravery in battle and disgust with any sign of cowardice

- "With never a tear do I bury you, my son, who are mine, yea, and are Sparta's as well"

- "Where have you come now in your cowardly flight, vile varlets? Do you intend to slink in here whence you came forth" (as saying this she showed them)

Women: - Emancipated (free), mingled freely with men and shared their sports, but from holding public office and couldn't vote

- Trained to be fit companions and mothers of warriors and heroes

- Known for natural beauty, strength and grace (Helen of Sparta).

Forbidden to wear jewelry, cosmetics and perfume (artifacts contradict this)

- Very wealthy, in the c.5th B.C 2/5 of land owned by women as numbers of man declined

- Grew up in physical freedom but were modest and health conscious

- Did not spin or weave (helot woman did this)

The Rights of Women

- Highly valued and respected, particularly roles mothers/nurses

- Reputation for physical beauty (Helen) and a strong character

- Sources including a running girl, and mirrors with the handles being statuettes of naked girls, portrays Spartan women as very healthy, slim and attractive. Entwines with the myth of Sparta

- Typically the jobs of women in all societies were centered on family, but in Sparta, with the boys/men away at the barracks, there really was...