From Birth To Marriage
- Treatment was based on eugenics (breeding healthy children). Although they had some freedom and power, it was about making women strong rather than giving them rights.
- Spartan girls were given the same amount of care and food as boys. The mother/helot women would teach them basic reading/writing skills. Once this was mastered, the girls learnt how to manage the estates, one of their responsibilities when they were older.
- They would also have PE, naked, in the gymnasium to ensure they had healthy children.
- When girls reached adolescence, they were not rushed into marriage. This was most likely to ensure they reached full physical development and could cope better with pregnancy.
- The marriage ceremony: the bride cut her hair short and was dressed in a man's clothing and waited in the groom's room until after dark. After the groom ate in the mess, they would have sex before he would go back to the mess and sleep.
- A couple would often be apart, and men would be made to feel ashamed for being caught in their wife's company.
- It was normal for them to meet in the dark, in secret - to keep their attraction strong.
- Adultery was also encouraged in Sparta. Men could sleep with their comrade's wife (with permission) so the woman is more likely to get pregnant.
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The Life Of Spartan Women
- Spartan women were a strong and visible part of society: to give birth to strong, healthy children; manage their husband's farms; supported the idea of the Spartan warrior state.
- Helots would do the house chores (weaving, cooking, cleaning - it was beneath them).
- The wife looked after the farm (making sure it produced enough food), economic control (over land/helots), make decisions about farming, equipment and selling excess crops produced. But still had no political or legal rights and no prospect of a career.
- Gave up sons at 7 years & drummed into male relatives it was glorious to die for Sparta.
- Started early: girls acted at public festivals. Women would dance/sing, learn poetry/lyre.
- Spartan women were said to have sent their sons by saying "either with your shield or on it" - they were used as propaganda to scare/impress other Greeks and send men to war.
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The Life Of Spartan Women 2
- It was shocking to other Greeks that they socialised and exercised in public and they were criticised for being sexually promiscuous - if an older Spartan felt a younger warrior had a better chance of getting his wife pregnant, he would allow the man to sleep with her.
- Allowed to drink/eat a lot during pregnancy = healthy baby, but childbirth = dangerous.
- Other Greeks were shocked to hear of their revealing clothes/taking part in ceremonies naked so they were known as 'thigh-flashers'.
- Many non-Spartans were shocked by the different sexual customs and could not understand how adultery was a positive thing.
- Some Greeks thought exercise made them too muscular and unattractive.
- Others believed they were negligent mothers for sending 7 year olds to the Agoge.
- They were criticised for being over-opinionated, Aristotle claimed Spartan men were ruled by their wives - they were seen as too bossy.
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