Women in sparta

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  • Publicado : 15 de agosto de 2012
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When comparing power levels and women’s rights, Sparta was a leader in its time.  Athens and Sparta, though both Greek city-states were different in the way they operated.  More specifically, Sparta was different in the way that they treated their women.  Athenian woman were treated quite appallingly compare to the standards of today’s women.  The stem of this difference seemsto lie in how these two city-states were governed.  Sparta, known for its’ militaristic ways, was an oligarchy and Athens, known for its’ philosophers and thinkers, was a democracy.  Sparta’s oligarchy was ruled by a counsel of 5 men, on being a lawmaker or giver.  The lawgiver’s name was Lycurgus.  Lycurgus was known for his warden-like ways in the training of men for war, but also for hisequivalence in the rights of Spartan women.  It has been speculated that women’s equality to men sprung from stories “of the Amazons [, warrior women of the Bronze Age, position and bravery] in the Trojan War” (Who were the Amazons?).  Athens, on the other hand, was a democracy that acted with the voice of the people through the Senate and the Roman Council.  It was not surprising then that women wereso highly kept and protected.  It has been said the belief of the Athenian man was that “women were…highly sexual beings who could not control their sexual urges and therefore had to be restricted for their own benefit.” (Graham)  It should come as no surprise how they were treated, then.  One of the great literary men of Athens, Euripides, has proclaimed in his book, Meda, “If only children couldbe gotten some other way with the female sex!  If women didn’t exist, human life would b e free of all its miseries.” (Graham)  Unfortunately, Euripides shared the mindset of the Athenian man.  Where politics, in the way, of having a vote seemed off limits to any Greek woman and childbearing was their number one purpose, the women of these two city-states had some very blatant differences.  Theparagraphs below will illuminate some of these.
     When getting down to the specific differences, one must consider all aspects of a woman’s daily life.  It must be considered how they were taught, what their responsibilities were in the Greek home and what rights if any were held.
     By far, the worst case scenario was that of the Athenian woman.  By the 5th century BC, Athenian women werebarely considered to be better than slaves.  They were generally not taught to read or write and were not expected to be educated.  Women prior to the 7th century BC were thought to “have been subject to similar rites of passage as boys” (The Women of Athens).   An Athenian woman was not allowed out of the home.  After the 7th century BC and Pericle’s Law on the legitimacy of marriage, women’srights took a large decline from their already horrible state.  They were expected to command the running of the house by the slaves and bear lots of children. The number of slaves a family had determined what work a woman was allowed to do. There were three classes of woman:  slave women (carried out domestic chores and were nannies to the woman of the houses’ children), Athenian citizen women, andHetaerae (considered prostitutes though were allowed education and to visit the Agora or marketplace).  The only women that had any rights in Athens were the Concubines or hetaerae whom were considered the prostitutes.  They could move freely through society; however it was noted that they were highly exploited.  They could develop relationships with their male companions and have children, buttheir children were illegitimate and, therefore, not citizens of Athens. It was stated, though, that “citizen wives and daughters were protected, but the prostitutes or pornoi were open to all forms of sexual exploitation… [and] were maintained by men, or worked in brothels and on the streets.” (Graham) The most important purpose of Athenian women was to be used as bargaining chips in arranged...
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