The women in ancient times had limited powers in making decisions in marriages and other social issues as well as the freedom to express their opinions in owning property and viewing their opinions in political and legal powers. These roles were exclusively reserved for men while the role of women was to take care of the children as well as take care of other household chores. This is in contrast to the women in Ancient Sparta who had equal powers and opportunities as men in terms of social duties, political and economic development as well as equal participation in all the decision making processes in the community. This calls for a clear discussion of the lives of the Spartan people in relation to the roles that were played by their women in social, economic and legal issues.
According to Arnold, the Spartan women played a major role of motivating and influencing the entire society in terms of economic development as well as motivating their older sons to join the military so as to fight for their rightful freedom. They enjoyed equal treatment as the boys whereby they had freedom to go outside for plays and chores, similar amount of food as well as military training although in different scope. The article criticizes the extra freedom these women had in choosing multiple sex partners so as to reproduce many healthy children to participate in the war as the author argues that it is only the Spartan women who had this freedom as opposed to their fellow Athen women as well as the rest of Europe.
Some of the crucial roles that the Spartan women played included growing strong boys and girls who could later join the military. Baker analyzes how women were trained as through athletics that included running and throwing of javelin as compared to their male counterparts who had to undergo the hard training known as Agoge. In addition, the Spartans young girls were able to access the formal education just like the boys and this was mainly a way of equipping the young girls into joining military and raising strong and capable children when they get married. The ancient Spartan women according to this article had more freedom of choice and lifestyle as compared to other women in the ancient Greek.
According to Duiker, the Spartan women were unique and different from women from other regions in the sense that they were allowed to indulge in activities that were mainly dominated by men throughout the world. The women were allowed to handle slaves and engage in various businesses. They traded with other people and acquired wealth. According to Duiker (154), Spartan women owned at least 40% of the land in the region and even participated in lending out and acquiring loans. It is only in the region where women were allowed to engage in economic activities without interference from their male counterparts. They were able to freely transact and manage their wealth.
According to Liam, women in ancient Sparta had a major role to play in taking care of the children as well as ensuring the economic power of Sparta remained intact while their husbands were confined in barracks or were involved in active war in the fields. The women in addition, had a rightful duty to air their opinions during law making processes and men had to listen to these views. They actively participated in political and social decision making as well as actively involved in farming for the production of ample foodstuff and economic empowerment of the Spartans.
According to Pomeroy, the Spartan women played an important role in maintaining the unity and strength of the society. They gave birth and raised their children according to the values and norms of the society. They were allowed to choose their partners and people to reproduce with. In order to maintain the dominance of their community, the Spartan women were charged with encouraging their men and adult male children to go to war and defend their community. They were also supposed to manage and defend their family’s wealth and stay in the city to look after everything that is left behind by the men who participate in war. These women were trained to be able to defend what was rightfully theirs.
According to Schrader, there was a fair treatment that the Spartan women received right from birth. This includes equal treatment as the boys in feeding and formal training and education. Women also took care of their husbands’ properties while the men were actively involved in war and this gave them freedom in decision making on matters on the economic development. In addition, marriages was respected whereby the laws of the Spartans prevented young girls from sexual abuse as they were allowed to marry at the right age and to young men in the society as opposed to other young girls in ancient Greece who were married off to older women.
In the ancient Greece women were faced with a challenge in following laws as they often became victims and sometimes offenders. Most laws were written and enforced by men as they mainly dominated the administrative forces. However according to Tetlow, the Spartan women were given a role to play in either formulation, interpretation and even some aspects of ensuring that the law was followed and respected. They were involved in matters concerning marriage where they had the freedom to choose their partners as well as raising the children according to the society’s norms and values. The Spartan women were also allowed to inherit their family’s wealth as well as acquire and own property. They were involved in various religious activities which did not involve men such as the worshiping and serving of some goddesses.
The Spartan women were different from the other women in the ancient times because they enjoyed basic freedom that was not enjoyed by other women. This includes their freedom to own property, actively participate in law making processes as well as their implementation. Most writers have argued that the Spartan women ruled their men in relations to the freedom of economic and social powers which they had while their men spent most of their times in the barracks.
- Arnold, Jim. Spartan Women: History's greatest conspiracy? Retrieved from http://www.opednews.com/articles/Spartan-Women--History-s-by-Jim-Arnold-100530-838.html
- Baker, Patrick. The role of women in ancient Sparta. May, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.helium.com/items/1843769-a-look-at-the-women-of-ancient-sparta
- Duiker, William & Spielvogel, Jackson. World History: To 1500, Volume 1. New York: Cengage learning. 2010.
- Liam, Marcus. Greek Society in The 5th: Women from Sparta and Athens Comparison. Fiction Press, 2005.Retrieved from www.fictionpress.com/s/2064283/1/Women-from-Sparta-and-Athens-Comparison.
- Pomeroy, Sarah. Spartan Women. New York: Oxford University Press. 2002.
- Tetlow, Elisabeth. Women, Crime and Punishment in Ancient Law and Society. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. 2005.
- Schrader, Helena. Sparta, Reconsidered: Spartan Women. Elsium Gates, 2012. Retrieved from http://elysiumgates.com/~helena/Women.html