The original Spartan women. What makes the original Spartan women all the more astonishing is the fact that they rocked their roles as strong, independent females in an era when others of their sex were dominated, demeaned and seen as subservient to men.
Educating women was not top of the to-do list in classical Greek democracy. Mainly because the idea of learned womenfolk seemed ludicrous to most of the ancient city-states. Not so in Sparta.
On that side of the Mediterranean island, girls started their schooling around the same age as boys. They were encouraged to pursue music, poetry, philosophy and other academic disciplines as means of strengthening their own minds. Related: 4 Benefits of Meditation for Improving Strength. Mainly, this was so they could pass their intellect onto the strong sons it was hoped they would bear. But still, it was a right that no other woman in Greece was afforded at the time and that sadly, many young girls around the world continue to be denied today.
Homeownership is a modern ambition of many. This meant that no matter how many male siblings a Spartan woman might have, when the family estate was being sliced up, she was still entitled to part of the pie.
But in Sparta, women not only had the freedom of the great outdoors but, like men, were encouraged to spend this time in athletic pursuit. From the age of seven onwards, girls and boys raced, ran, played catch and competed against each other, with physical prowess the prize to win. Related: Introducing the Spartan Spirit Awards.
That brings us to another point that puts Spartan society ahead of their time: While all Greek marriages were for procreation, Spartans brides were encouraged to at least enjoy their bout of belly-bumping as much as their partners.
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In the capital and elsewhere young girls were married off as soon as they hit puberty. Unprepared for the physical not to mention the emotional fallout of early sexual experience, scholars report that many young girls suffered immensely and frequently died in childbirth. Sure, that was a veritable fossil in Athens and other cities of the ancient world.
But in Sparta it meant that women would likely be more equal and enthusiastic bed-mates, and so more agreeable life partners. In fact, the first woman ever to win at the predominantly all-male ancient Olympic Games was the Spartan princess, Cynisca.
Being female, Cynisca was only permitted to enter the Games in the equestrian event and even then, purely as a trainer. A skilled horsewoman, she was prompted by her brother, King Agesilaus, to use her talents to train and enter a four-horse chariot-racing team. This she did. And in no small feat, the Spartan princess managed to race her way to victory twice at the prestigious contest, first in BC and then again in BC.
Sienkewicz on Pomeroy, 'Spartan Women' | H-Women | H-Net
Her victory had a powerful impact on the ancient Greek world. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. Chapter First Online: 20 June This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Glassman 1 1. Personalised recommendations.
- 8 Reasons the Women of Ancient Sparta Were Ahead of Their Time.
- The Two Cities!
- Plato and the Virtue of Courage.