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How The Roles Of Women In Ancient Greece Affect Their Status

1350 words - 6 pages

Ancient Athens and Ancient Sparta were two of the biggest city-states in Greece. Despite their geographical closeness these two city-states differed largely in many aspects, particularly the kind of roles women played in society and the amount of power women had. Whereas women in Ancient Sparta were believed to be very independent the women in Ancient Athens were not. Even the way these women dressed contrasted from one another. In this essay, I will shine light on the differences between women in Sparta, who had played a larger role in Spartan society, and the women in Athens, whose role was not considered as important as men in Athenian society and how this effected their status. I will provide examples from two of the secondary sources that were read in class as well as a primary source written by Aristophanes.
The role of women in Ancient Sparta was much more important than the role of women in Ancient Athens. Women in Ancient Sparta gained a valuable role because since Sparta was a powerful militarized state, women were a major contributor to war by bearing sons who would turn into soldiers and thus were an essential part of their society. All newborn females in Sparta were reared because when they became a mother, they would also bear more children. On the contrary, in Ancient Athens all male newborns were reared while some of the female infants were killed. According to Blundell it is believed that “they did have generally maintained that more girls than boys would have been disposed of in this way” (Blundell, 130). This statement means that it was a common practice to exposed female newborns and could be due to the low valuation of female babies. To me, this means that female infants were less valuable than males. Also, Blundell suggests in this article that providing dowries at marriage would cause a financial hardship for her father and therefore she is less wanted than a son (Blundell, 131). To me this means that a father suffers a great loss by providing dowry to his daughter’s husband and this is something they wanted to avoid. This had a negative consequence on women.
Additionally, Spartan women enjoyed much more freedom and rights than the women of Ancient Athens. Spartan women had freedom during times of war because of male absence. Spartan women had so much freedom that they were allowed to have sexual relations with other men when their husbands were at war. When men were absent “on a campaign of long duration” Pomeroy adds, “the women resorted to intercourse with men known as helots” (Pomeroy,37). This statement reflects the freedom of women in their society and this affected women because they could exercise their freedom of polygamy. Women of Ancient Athens did not have such freedom and instead were policed by men. Athenian women had limited freedom because of their obligation to household chores. In Aristophanes’s play Lysistrata, he depicts the common Athenian woman and her chores at home when Lysistrata says “Destroy...

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