Society every class from helots to Spartiates were required to fulfil a very
vital role in securing the warrior state that was Sparta its complete Military
domance over the other surrounding Greek states and all the potential invaders
considering invading Greece. This statement did not exclude Spartiate women.
Spartiate women were tasked with creating healthy, Strong and Superior warriors
to keep Sparta’s Military Supremacy dominate. Besides this very Stereotypical
role that was tasked to all Spartiate women they often held a major role in
managing estates, economics and religious festivals within the Spartan Society.
Archaeological evidence discovered from ‘Artemis Orthia like the ‘Statue of a
young female athlete’ has supported the believed sterotype of that of Spartiate
women as being highly active and visible members of the state compared to their
Athenian and other Greek states counterparts.
often held in often high regards for the very advanced education system called
the ‘Agoge’. This was not held to Male Spartiate Males only, Spartiate Women
were often given the same education and some extra specialized education to
allow them to be prepared for motherhood, manage ‘Kleroi’ (state owned property
given to male Spartiates) and patriciate in most Religious festivals. Young
girls learned there basic literacy
skills while they remained in the care of their mothers at home, these practice
of mental enhancing were reinforced with choral singing, when they were taught
to perform in sing and dance. These Song and dancers were often myths with
strung tighter with strong military story of heroes in battle and Gods. We have
recordings from and ancient poet and composer named ‘Alcman’ who created an assortment of songs called ‘Partheniai’.
Spartiate Women were also required to exercise sometimes even with the boys to
increase their physical nature. This often boosted moral within the population
and it also encouraged equality and competitiveness between the 2 genders. The ‘statue
of the young female athlete’ reinforces this statement that Spartan women were
often very fit and it was very common to see them doing exercise. Spartiate
women were required to exercise and do these educational courses to improve the
possibility of producing a healthy, fit, intelligent male offspring that would
one day be able to fight for Sparta.
Spartiate Women during their
Adult life were not allowed to create clothing like many other women classes in
Greece; these tasks were given to helots the slave population of Sparta.
Instead a major responsibility given to the Female Spartiates were overseeing
there ‘Kleroi’ while their Warrior
husbands were away training or fighting in a war. ‘Xenophon’ informs us that
Spartiate women did commonly own and manage ‘Kleroi’ without male guardians.
This is also reinforced by Aristotle “Spartans tin the day of their greatness
many things were managed by their woman… And nearly two-fifths of the whole
Spartan Country side was held by women”. Not only this but Spartiate males very
dependent on their wife’s to effectively pay their debts to the ‘Syssition’ and the government. Besides
all of this their very most important role within the Society was to become
mothers of warriors. Xenophon explains “for free woman the most important job
was to bear children”.
After a Spartiate Woman has
given birth to a child if the baby survives the examination by ‘The Council of
elders’ the child is given back to the mother where she would give full
supervision of the child for the first seven years. While under the supervision
of their mother the child is introduced to physical training and also taught
them to be tough and resilient by refusing to nurture them as babies. The
mother also ingrained into them that performing at the Apex of their ability
was the only option in life. With that they would also raise the child to
conform around the laws and be loyal to Sparta. Spartan mothers provided the
Spartan state with a very vital step in the development stage and preparation
for the ‘Agoge’ for their formal
military training. A very Famous Spartan quote was Before a Spartiate male left
before battle his mother handed his shield to him and said “Son, either with
this or on this.” This tells us that the dream of a lot of Spartan mothers was
that her son would be a hero, but a hero only returned dead or victorious.
These written sources
and physical evidence including the ‘statue
of a young female athlete’ has given us a small insight into the roles that
women played within the Spartan Society. With the little information we have
gathered it has given us the opportunity to be able to understand the influence
the female spartiate population had on the Society.