Differences Between Athens And Spartan Women

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The general view of women in Ancient Greece is considered to be similar to that of Athens. Athenian women were confined to the household away from men other than her family. In contrast, the treatment and lives of Spartan women were liberal in comparison to Athens’ conservativeness. Spartan women appear to have enjoyed more freedoms than their Athenian counterparts. The attitudes of Spartans towards women in general and their sexuality differed from those in Athens primarily due to the social differences between the two city states. This can be shown through the physical activity of Spartan girls, sexual relationships and children, and manner of dressing.
One major difference between Spartan and Athenian women is the upbringing of young unmarried
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Women in Athens manner of dressing could be described as conservative while Spartan dress was more revealing. This is due to the differences when it comes to sexual beliefs. Chastity of women is valued in Athens as it is important to inheritance of the okios to insure that legitimate offspring to continue the family and are quality citizens. On the other hand, Spartans focused more on the beauty and attractive qualities of a woman over inheritance and chastity. Athenian women of all ages wore long dresses down to the ankle in layers while Spartan women wore peploi that showed off their legs. While exercising, Spartan girls either were naked or wearing short tunics that reached the knee, which Christesen references a group of Spartan bronze statues, dated c.400 BC, featuring Spartan girls naked or wearing short tunics with items associated with either athletics or dance. This has been criticised in Athenian works such as Euripides’ Andromache, which Peleus attributes Helen’s abduction to Spartan women being able to interact with young men, wearing revealing clothes, and exercising as men do and thus should not expect Spartan women to be chaste. To ensure chastity, Athenian women were secluded in their home away from male strangers, dressed conservatively, and worked inside, leaving outdoor work to slaves. Unlike Athenian women, Spartan women did not normally produce their own clothes, leaving it to the work of slave women. Xenophon mentions that King Lycurgus introduced exercise for women as slave women were sufficient enough to produce clothing. Athenian women wove clothes for both themselves and the okios and was considered one of the most productive things a woman could do, a contrast to the Spartan view of motherhood being a vital function. Plutarch describes a saying with an Ionian woman being proudest of her weaving while a Spartan woman was proud of her well-raised sons.

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