Athenian Women During The Classical Period Essays

Athenian Women During The Classical Period Essays

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What can ancient and modern sources tell us about the major differences between Athenian woman and Spartan woman in Greece during the Classical Period? During the Classical period in Greece, there was a significant difference between the women of Sparta and Athens. This difference is apparent in their everyday lives, and this essay will try to pinpoint some of those significant differences in daily activities. Spartan women participated in physical activity, public education and were quite outspoken while in comparison, Athenian women were taught little besides how to be a housewife and how to keep quiet.
From a young age, Spartan girls participated in physical activity such as wrestling and gymnastics. Spartans believed that for females to produce children who would be worthy and vigorous enough to survive Spartan society, it was necessary the mother who would bear them be just as physically fit as their male counterparts. This idea of female-male physical equality is discussed in the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, “He decreed that the female sex ought to take bodily exercise no less than the male” (Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians 1.2-9. 4th cent. BC. G). As Xenophon describes, Spartan women participated in physical activities just as much as men did and even learned wrestling and gymnastics which Xenophon also describes in his constitution. Another example of Spartan women’s focus on exercise rather than domestic skills is in Plutarch’s Life of Lycurgus. “He freed them from softness and sitting in the shade and all female habits, and made it customary for girls no less than boys to go naked in processions and to dance naked at certain festivals and to sing naked while young men were present and looked on” (Plu...


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...like Athenian women which makes it apparent they had more freedoms in their lives.
Spartan women were different from most women during the Classical period in Greece but specifically Athenian women. While Athenian women were domesticated and secluded, Spartan women had more freedom of speech and learned much more than the average Athenian girl during her life. From physical exercise to public education Spartan women were given more freedom than women in Athens seen from the evidence collected in this paper. Although Spartan women were not treated as complete equals with Spartan men, the double standard seen between most men and females in Athens during the same period is substantially more drastic in comparison to Spartans. All together Spartan men and women look to have worked side by side in their lives rather than in a distinct hierarchy like in Classical Athens.

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