Category Archives: Spartan Women

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 15

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m finishing up my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan women could drink wine as part of their daily fare.

Apparently other city states did not approve of women drinking wine although I’m not sure why. I should also note that drunkenness was severely frowned upon in Sparta. Spartan men did drink wine as part of their military regimen but in severe moderation (whatever that means). So maybe the Spartan men were simply more willing to share their wine with the women?

And that concludes this series on the Spartan women! For those interested in learning more about them, these are the sources I used in my research:

Women in Ancient Greece by Sue Blumdell

Spartan Women by Sarah B. Pomeroy

The Spartans by Paul Cartledge

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Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 14

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan women did not make a spectacle mourning the deceased.

Elsewhere in ancient Greece, the passing of a loved one was occasion for a spectacle. Women played a major role in funerals, and rites included a procession with wailing, dirges, beating of breasts, and tearing of hair.

This kind of lamentation was forbidden among the Spartans. Women did not make a show of their grief but were expected to go on with life as usual. And if a man died in combat, they were supposed to celebrate his death, not weep over his remains. Not that they’d have any remains to weep over. If a soldier fell on the battlefield, they buried him there.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 13

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan women did not have to weave.

In other city states, a woman’s main occupation after child rearing and household management was weaving. Back then, producing cloth was a lengthy process, and any idle time a woman might have went into spinning and weaving.

Spartan women also had the responsibility of raising children and managing their homes, but they also had the benefit of the slave/serf helot population. The helots took care of menial tasks, including cloth production, which freed a Spartan woman’s time for other pursuits. However, that didn’t mean the women of Sparta didn’t know how to weave. They could if they chose, and some believe that they focused their efforts on special pieces, such as those for religious purposes, rather than everyday items like towels.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 12

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan daughters could inherit property.

Half the amount their brothers received, to be exact. Actually, Sparta was not unique in this respect. Inheritance laws of Gortyn (Crete) also allocated that amount to their daughters.

In contrast, an Athenian girl received nothing. If she were her father’s only offspring, she was actually considered part of the inheritance. In that case, the property would go to her father’s closest male relative, who would marry her to seal the deal.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 11

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan women could own property.

In this case, property meant land as well as horses and household goods. Sparta did not mint its own coins, but its citizens sometimes used the currency of other city states, and I would guess Spartan women could own this money as well.

Athenian women could not own property. Any dowry that accompanied a bride was controlled by her husband. A woman might have been able to call small personal goods, such as a comb or cosmetics, her own, but that was about it.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 10

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan women did not wear ornaments, perfume, cosmetics, or gold.

Chalk this one up to Spartan austerity. The Spartans eschewed shows of wealth, and jewelry and makeup were luxury items. They did use mirrors though. They weren’t into embellishing their looks with face paint or baubles, but they still wanted to look good.

In contrast, Athenian men and women used perfumed oil on their skin and hair, at least the ones who could afford it. Women also lightened their skin with white lead and applied rouge. And they had no qualms about wearing jewelry.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 9

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan women were considered exceedingly beautiful among Greek women.

Part of this reputation came from the fact that Helen of Troy, the face that set sail a thousand ships, was born Princess Helen of Sparta. Exercise and a better diet probably also helped. Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata has a scene in which a Spartan woman meets with a group of Athenian women, and the Athenians make a big to do about how ample her bust is. If, as mentioned in last week’s post, a girl grows up not having enough eat, chances are she won’t build enough body mass to have a big chest.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 8

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan girls were fed the same amount of Spartan boys.

This was might sound weird, but most Greeks allotted their daughters smaller portions than their sons. The fact that the Spartans fed their children equally struck their contemporaries as odd enough for commentary. As an aside, some historians believe that this kind of systematic malnutrition plus early marriage/childbirth, contributed to the high mortality rate of young women in Athens.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 7

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan women exercised nude.

As mentioned in a previous post, Greek athletes competed in the nude. Actually, exercise was generally done in their gymnasiums sans clothing. So in Sparta, the women followed the same regimen as the men. They would also oil their bodies before races like the men.

Suffice to say, gymnasiums were an all-male environment in Athens. And unless she was a slave or a prostitute, a Greek woman walking around naked anywhere other than Sparta would be in big, big trouble.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!

Research Ramblings: Spartan Women Part 6

As noted in my January 9, 2014 post, the lives of Spartan women were completely unlike those of their Greek sisters, and I’m continuing my series on these differences with today’s fact:

Spartan girls received an education similar (but separate) to Spartan boys.

Keep in mind, Spartan schooling is a bit different than what we think of as education today. Remember, their goal was to produce good soldiers. While all Spartan children probably learned to read and write, there was a lot more emphasis on physical training, and girls competed in events such as wrestling, running, and horsemanship.  Girls also performed in choirs so we know their education included music.

In contrast, Athenian girls, unlike their brothers, received no formal education. Their primary role in life was to keep house and weave/spin, and those tasks they learned from their mothers. That’s not to say there weren’t girls that might have learned how to read and write at home, but a woman certainly wasn’t expected to have such knowledge.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartan women!