How the Roles of Women in Ancient Greece Affect Their Status

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Ancient Athens and Ancient Sparta were two of the biggest city-states in Greece. Despite their geographical closeness these two city-states differed largely in many aspects, particularly the kind of roles women played in society and the amount of power women had. Whereas women in Ancient Sparta were believed to be very independent the women in Ancient Athens were not. Even the way these women dressed contrasted from one another. In this essay, I will shine light on the differences between women in Sparta, who had played a larger role in Spartan society, and the women in Athens, whose role was not considered as important as men in Athenian society and how this effected their status. I will provide examples from two of the secondary sources that were read in class as well as a primary source written by Aristophanes.
The role of women in Ancient Sparta was much more important than the role of women in Ancient Athens. Women in Ancient Sparta gained a valuable role because since Sparta was a powerful militarized state, women were a major contributor to war by bearing sons who would turn into soldiers and thus were an essential part of their society. All newborn females in Sparta were reared because when they became a mother, they would also bear more children. On the contrary, in Ancient Athens all male newborns were reared while some of the female infants were killed. According to Blundell it is believed that “they did have generally maintained that more girls than boys would have been disposed of in this way” (Blundell, 130). This statement means that it was a common practice to exposed female newborns and could be due to the low valuation of female babies. To me, this means that female infants were less valuable than males. Also, Bl...

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... did not have tyrannous men overlooking them as men did to women in Athens. Although these two ancient societies were in the same country, the value of women and their freedom were very different. By comparing and contrasting we are able to better understand the concept of gender, how gender inequalities have changed from the past, and what we have learned about the history of women and gender. In analysis, the value of women in these two societies was greatly influenced by their role and contribution to society. Women in Sparta were valued more because they gave birth to potential warriors and since Sparta was a militarized state more warriors were needed. Spartan women hired lower class women for the chores. In Athens, women were less valued because household role such as taking care of the house, chores, and cooking were not equally important to society as men.
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