Spartan Women vs Athenian Women Essay

2257 Words Nov 27th, 2006 10 Pages
Most people think of ancient Athens as the city of freedom and democracy, while they think of Sparta as a highly restricted society. The schools teach us that modern democracies are modeled on Athens, while military dictatorships are modeled on Sparta. However, history shows us that women had much more liberty in Sparta than in Athens. In fact, the democracy of Athens was available only to free men who were citizens of Athens. Moreover, to claim citizenship, an Athenian had to prove that both his parents were "astoi." For the father, being "astos" meant that he was an Athenian citizen, but the mother could not be a citizen. Women were never citizens, but only able to transmit the rights of citizenship to their sons (Perry, et al, 1992, …show more content…
228).
There are some notable exceptions. For example, there was Hipparchia, a philosopher of the Cynic school. "She was able to marry and educate herself at the same time. 'Respectable' women, the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters of classical Greece, were not allowed to participate in the educational, cultural, or political life of their communities"(Kersey, 1989, p. 107).
Education
Most Greek women, however, did not get an education. The famous philosopher Aristotle said: "It is advantageous for animals to be governed by men... between the sexes, the male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject"(Finnegan, 1995). This concept explains and justifies why they thought that it was necessary for men to hold power over women. On the other hand, the philosopher Plato said, "that man and women with the same natural ability should receive the same education and training and to the same kind of work. Hence there will be female guardians and rulers, as well as male ones" (Grube, 1992, p. 37).
Classes of Women
Athenian women were divided into three general classes. The lowest class was the slave women, who did the menial domestic chores and helped to raise the children of the wife. Male slaves worked in the trade arts, including pottery making, glass working, and wood working, or educating the sons of a house. The second class of women was the Athenian citizen woman, who could pass the

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