Women's Role In Sparta

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The Women of Sparta

Spartan women in the 5th Century BCE were in many ways completely different to other Hellenic women during this time. Their role as mother, wife and woman were all far beyond what was expected of an every-day Athenian woman. Their way of living was foreign to the rest of the Hellenic world as their roles in society, upbringing, marriage and motherhood all heavily differed from those experienced by women in other poleis lifestyle. However, most evidence of what women’s lives were like in Sparta comes from the writing of male Athenian historians, therefore the validity of their opinions should be viewed with some level of scepticism.
Role in society
Spartan women played a more prominent role in society than one might have
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Women also received a large dowry from their father before being passed down to their husbands . Women could inherit land as a part of their dowry, if their husband or unmarried sons died . This gave them more freedom and responsibility than would ever be given to an Athenian woman. They were even referred to as ladies, which was not a common fixture in any other Hellenic poleis where women were not considered to be citizens . This level of responsibility bestowed upon women according to Plutarch, was heavily scrutinized.
“they were compelled to be in charge because of their husbands left them behind [while they were on campaign] and so were more considerate of them than was appropriate, and addressed them as ladies.”
By commenting on the level of “appropriateness”, Plutarch is indicating that the treatment of women in Sparta differed from his own experience of life in Athens in 75 BCE. This complements the theory that modern historians believe the status of women in Spartan was unique to Sparta and would have been extremely uncommon in any other Hellenic polis.
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Marriage meant the inevitability of ensuring the family. The marriage of a Spartan man would need to be to a Spartan-born woman, born from two Spartan-born parents . In many ways, marriage to the Spartans was not about love or lust, but the greater good of the whole of the Spartan polis. However, this does not mean that the Spartan people were without desire. Often men would sneak out of their barracks to see their wives, Xenophon suggesting that their separation would increase their desire for one another. “When married people meet in this way, they must feel stronger desire for the company of one another...and produce more robust

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