Women in Ancient Sparta, Athens, and Gortyn

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When we contemplate on the conditions that women are living on in a society in the modern era, we find and witness differences and better living styles, which enable them to live their lives voluntarily. Now thinking back on women of Ancient Greek, a time when women were treated a lot different than now because at the time there were women, living in places like Athens, Sparta, and Gorton; where they were getting treated according to a set of rules and laws as well as the power of the men in Ancient Greek.

In ancient Greeks, the two well-known civilizations were Athens and Sparta. Although both of the cultures were in the Greek civilization, there were differences found in them. Politics, social lives, and government are instances that distinguish these two civilizations from one another. Primarily, geography was one of the reasonings enabling some differences between these states and cities, although they were located in Greece. Seeing, that, Greek states and towns had mountains in their geography, and the hills restrained the development and any types of communications among the cities and states. Moreover, both ruled their cities and stated distinctively in a political system, social life, economy, education, religious view, etc.

In contrast, women’s rights and power were presented and given differently. On the one hand, in Athens, men would not let their wives outside the house and would keep them inside the house, as well as protecting them at home. The reason men treated women this way in Athens is that women in that time were highly sexual beings and were not able to regulate their sexual urges. Thus they had to be restricted for their benefits. But on the other hand, Spartan women were liberated from all these restrictions and rules and had the privilege to live on as they had deserved to do so.

Similarly, in Gortynian women were able to live their lives freely and had freedom in many avenues and respects. They had owned their properties with the inclusion of real estate, with their power and were in no need for a guardian to buy as well as sell or manage for them. Additionally, they had the privilege to go to court as either Plaintiff or defendant and did not require any assistance from the men to speak for them. Moreover, women in Gortynian had more freedom regarding marriage than women in Athens. For instance, some laws had given rights to women that were not given to men. This is true because in a divorce women were allowed to have their properties, and if for some reason the men decided not to give it to them, then the women could swear an oath that they owned the property, not their husbands and took it.

Moreover, the laws in Gortynian said nothing about the men’s property but men had frequently owned more wealth than women, and it may be that they took care of all the property together so that divorce was not considered as a way of isolating the wife’s property from the couple’s total property. It also states that women had the power to take their wealth with them and leave their husbands house. Although women were able to own their homes, they lived in their husbands’ house.

The women of Athens had also had to undergo similar circumstances as well as follow the rules that had been set for them. The people of Ancient Athens, however, were able to comprehend the importance of having an education and therefore decided to provide some level of education to the women. Mostly, they believed that the knowledge that the women would acquire could be passed to their children and would be able to bring them up with the experience that they would need to live on in this world. Not to mention, the importance of mother figure had been recognized away back then just as much as it is today. In the same manner, women got married and had a family, and this was the center of their lives. Moreover, the people of Ancient Greece worshiped female deities as well as the male ones. Therefore women did have some level of importance back then along with the men. Women had to live with hardships and difficulties.

The women had to live a tough life, and it was much worse than it is today in most civilized countries. It is true that women in that era received minimal education. Nevertheless, their knowledge was not thought to be mandatory because their primary role was to look after their husband and children. Practically, all women would marry because wanting to live a single life was not allowed for them and women had to get married anywhere between fourteen and eighteen. Furthermore, the bride’s parents had to arrange the marriages, and the wives had to comply with their husbands’ orders. Additionally, a man’s family would refuse to accept his wife unless she gave him a child; obeying and serving her husband and raising their children turned out to be the functions of women in the time.

Women had to embrace the social status and place that their husbands would subject them to because they had no rights and legal standing. They were unable to own a home, and their opinions would be taken as insignificant. Many women were considered as more than domestic slaves to their husband, seeing their husbands would determine their daily routines and had to revolve around the speech of their husbands. Moreover, there were no more than a few professions unlocked for the women, in which they had to entertain the men of that time. For instance, a lot of women were prostitutes and others who were trained in conversation and dancing, were also expected to have sex with men of that time.

In contrast to other Greek city-states, women of Sparta had been privileged enough to play an integral role in the society since they were considered the backbone of the Spartan economic system of inheritance. Also, they led a different life than women in most other ancient cities and states because they were dependent on to maintain the Spartan Social systems. Moreover, they also had the consignment to socialize with other men who were not their husbands. Additionally, the women had domestic responsibilities with the inclusion of maintaining homes and farms when the men were on campaign whereas other ancient cities women had to play roles like weaving or delegated to slaves. In other words, women were raised and brought up like Spartan men since they were made to go through physical training ensuring their success in meeting their essential roles in society.

Spartan women life was identical to those of Spartan men. Their clothes had a little decoration, and they would not put on jewelry or cosmetics. They were expected to take parts in battles. A good wife would keep an eye out for her husband’s property when the husband was absent in the house. In contrast to many other Greek women, Spartan women had the permission and privilege to converse with their husband’s friends. They could have their belongings and even marry someone else if their husband were gone at war for a very long period.

Moreover, in the Spartan society, marriage was not seen as a ceremonial event. In contrast to other Greek organizations, a woman did not get married until she was at least eighteen year of age (Taylor, 1999). This system was based in the society by that time she would be fully matured. Furthermore, the way women were married in that society, this idea was taken as a reflection of the desire to produce many offsprings. Their lovers would abduct women in the night, and their head would be shaved, and men’s clothes would be on them. Then, they were put on a straw pallet in the dark, where the women and their lovers would meet to consummate their relationship as well as produce offsprings (Sickinger, 1997). In that time, any men were able to abduct their wives, and this led to a system that eventually made of many husbands and one wife, vice versa. When children were born, mothers of affluent backgrounds had very little to execute with its upbringing, and rather the slaves would maintain the education. Women attempted to do whatever in their power and many different things to thrill the men, thus that would lead to a stronger family (Taylor, 99).

The slaves of Spartan were known as helots. Spartans were worried and anticipated that the helots would eventually rise in rebellion; thus they decided to treat them very harshly. The Spartan government once inquire the helots to designate their best fighters. The Spartans told the soldiers would be liberated, had they fought for Sparta. However, this was a trap because the Spartans had killed the two thousand men who were designated to avoid having any future helot leaders. Helots had a few rights. They were able to get married to whoever they wanted, at their convenience. They were also able to pass their names on to their children. Not to mention, they could even hand over their crops for money if they gave a fair share to their master. If they saved enough, helots were able to their liberty.

Conclusively, there had been many stories linked with Ancient Greek in the past, and one of the significant ones was how the government and men of Athen, Sparta, and Gortyn treated women in their respects. The parts of Ancient Greek had different applications, techniques, and approaches to address the women. In Athens, women had to stand many restrictions and roles on their plates as well as had less freedom compared to other states. In Athens, women had to follow their husbands’ orders, and they had to do what their husbands’ had told them to do.

In contrast, women Gortyn and Sparta had more freedom as opposed to women in Athens because in both states women had the right to proclaim their properties and were able to live freely. However, in Sparta, women had other rights like they could take parts in battles, did not have to get married until they were at least eighteen while in Athens, women had to get married at the age of fourteen. Not to mention, education for women in Sparta was identical to those of men, while in Athens, women had to study the household chores. In Spartan, women got more rights than those of Athen on the public participation, family and the privilege of having their property. In comparison to women of the present era, the government of Sparta did justice to the women by giving them and men equal rights, but other states did prevail the system for the women.


Cite this paper

Women in Ancient Sparta, Athens, and Gortyn. (2021, Aug 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/women-in-ancient-sparta-athens-and-gortyn/

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