The unique ancient Spartans
Christos Barbayianidis writes
When asked by a woman in Attica, “because only you Laxians have power over men,” he replied: “Because we are the only ones who give birth to men,
Gorgo (daughter of King Cleomenes I and wife of King Leonidas I)
Women account for half of the population, but historical sources do not devote half of the attention they deserve and their role requires. But the women of Sparta were an exception. They were the only women in antiquity who, instead of being silent, had their own opinion and took care to formulate it. Since then, in the eyes of the rest of the Greeks, the Spartans seemed strange to their customs and customs, and their women were more and more strange.
The mission of the semi-legitimate lawmaker Lykourgos was to give birth to boys who would be the next-generation soldiers, with measures to ensure that they were physically fit. Girls were not required to be inspected by the authorities at birth and the decision to revoke was left entirely to the parents. All they needed was to exercise their bodies in jogging, wrestling, throwing a disc and acoustic, while participating naked in religious processions, torture and songs.
The Aristotle criticized the Spartan law that allowed women, unlike men, living dissolutely and luxury. From the testimony we conclude that women did not need to be exercised after the birth of children or after they had passed the age that they could become pregnant.
Thus, our contexts lead us to the fact that women had to get married when they reached a suitable age for childbirth. The Plutarch writes that they used to marry ” not little girls or immature for marriage, but in the prime of their youth and mature .” That is, while in the rest of Greece married around fourteen, the law of Sparta stipulated that the woman had to be physically fully developed, therefore at the age of eighteen to twenty.
In Sparta , unlike Athens , the official engagement from the bride’s father was not necessary for a legitimate marriage, so there was no formal promise from the father to give a dowry to his daughter. This has been legislated by Lykourgos with no reason to remain unmarried because of poverty, nor to be sought after because of wealth, but to concentrate his attention on the character and the qualifications of the girl. So marriages were arranged individually, without meaning that there was no agreement between the groom and the bride’s father. In addition, there was the so-called grabbing, which the husband just stolen because of a custom, although there is evidence that this was done knowingly to the father.
But while the men to marry another woman had to divorce the previous one, a woman was allowed to have sex with two men ! If a man, due to old age or disability, wanted to have children, he brought home any man admiring form and character to do with his wife. Also, if one saw a woman having nice children, she asked, with the consent of her husband, to give birth to his children. Of course, the purpose of the law was to increase the population and bring as many children as possible. Children legally could be considered to have belonged to either their natural father or the wife of the woman by agreement of the men. So, it is not easy to fix a sense of adultery in Sparta. TheSpartans from the time they married had their hair nearby, unlike long-haired men, and possibly wearing a veil when they appeared publicly.
However, the moralist and conservative Aristotle refers to sexual immorality when he talked about the Spartan women who demanded their will and that it was the political and moral bankruptcy of Sparta. Like the educated Aristotle, so did the rest of the Greeks embracing the typical phallicist view that women were inferior to men, and this Spartanism’s loyalty was unmanageable to them! They were of the view that the Spartan lived a self-indulgent and lecherous life, with the encouragement of their compliant spouses. The truth is, however, that these women were nursing in the context of a public education system, which resulted in a dramatic difference from the typical behavior of the other Greek women.
Beyond love relationships with other men, it is a very important element for Aristotle to consider Sparta as a women-owned society their right to own and manage the same property, including property land, without being subject to any legal regime of guardianship. When the rest of the Greeks transferred their property to their spouse or closest relative, the Spartan fathers were the owners of the property they had inherited!
Also, they were free of tedious domestic work, unlike the other Greek women who were all their home. They did not cook, they did not, they did not clean up: all these were made by women. It is possible that they did not even breast feed their children. Whether or not it happened, the reputation of the Spartanese food, which was obviously enolated , was so great that, for example, Alcibiades had been brought up by a poisonous trophy. In general, the rest of the Greeks, having a distorted view, felt that there was a climate of moral exhaustion, and that the Spartans not only imposed their will on men but also exercised influence on state affairs!
In Sparta there were no celebrations exclusively for women. The girls on the wedding threshold competed in dancing and singing, while married sang songs and mocked the bells.
Another special feature was that they did not mourn and did not snore after the death of a family member. They did not mourn or retreat to their homes when their men fell into the war, but they were proud of a bright and cheerful face for the glorious death of their men.
The Archilian, her mother, Vrasida, who died by her son, when some of Amphipolis arrived in Sparta and went to see her, asked if her son died in a way that was nice and worthy of Sparta. As they were praying and saying that he was the best of the Lacedaemonians, she said: “My son, my son, but the Lacedaemon, who is very well and right, is very superior to him.” Plutarch.
Spartan society was the first to try to apply eugenics. The good physical condition of women helped to be healthy mothers. They were not considered inferior to their society. Young girls were given similar portions of feeding with the boys. They were embarrassed through a process of education and socialization with the ideals of the Spartan society, the realization of which their behavior as adult women was crucial.
Finally, when they were old, they had the right to inherit and manage their own property. They could express their opinion about the prospective bridegroom that their father would choose and their opinion was of the utmost importance. It was these women who, if their sons returned to losers and alive, showed publicly their own womb and asked offensively if they wanted to come into it! They were just unique in a phallic world!
Aristotle, Politics, Ed. Cactus.
Xenophon, Lacedaemonian State, Ed. Cactus
Plutarch, Lykourgos, Lakenae’s Laws, Ed. Cactus.
Paul Cartledge , The Spartans, Ed. Livan.
D . M . MacDowell , Spartan law, Ed. Papadima.
Γράφει ο Χρήστος Μπαρμπαγιαννίδης
Όταν ρωτήθηκε από κάποια γυναίκα της Αττικής «γιατί μόνο εσείς οι Λάκαινες έχετε εξουσία πάνω στους άνδρες», απάντησε: «Επειδή είμαστε και οι μόνες που γεννάμε άνδρες»,
Γοργώ (κόρη του βασιλιά Κλεομένη Α’ και σύζυγος του βασιλιά Λεωνίδα Α’)
Οι γυναίκες αποτελούν το μισό του πληθυσμού, όμως οι ιστορικές πηγές δεν αφιερώνουν ούτε το μισό της προσοχής που τις αξίζει και που απαιτεί ο ρόλος τους. Όμως, οι γυναίκες της Σπάρτης αποτελούσαν εξαίρεση. Ήταν οι μόνες γυναίκες στην αρχαιότητα που, αντί να μένουν σιωπηλές, είχαν τη δική τους γνώμη και φρόντιζαν να τη διατυπώνουν. Αφού λοιπόν στα μάτια των υπολοίπων Ελλήνων οι Σπαρτιάτες φαίνονταν παράξενοι με τα ήθη και τις συνήθειές τους, άλλο τόσο και περισσότερο παράξενες έμοιαζαν και οι γυναίκες τους.
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