Athenian Women Vs. Spartan Women Research Paper

3526 words - 15 pages

Spartan vs. Athenian Woman: who had it better?When comparing power levels and women's rights, Sparta was the clear leader of its time period. Though both Athens and Sparta were Greek city-states, each differed in the way they operated. Specifically, the states differed in the treatment of women. In most cultures, back then and still today, women tend to be treated differently. This difference, however, is usually between men and women over the ever present issue of equality. Indeed, the battle of the sexes has reigned as supreme debate throughout the generations. Not many question the difference of treatment among the sexes, and as a society that supports equal rights we want to beli ...view middle of the document...

She stands out as a major player of the time, causing conflict between men, drawing their power into question. As for the movie "300", which narrates the Spartan army through wars and battles in extreme graphics, the scenes in which women are involved all resound with a similar theme; women were treated like queens. Their husbands and sons were respectful of them, and they had choice in whatever matter came to a head, as their opinions were actually valued. So, why is it that through all my years of school I know vastly more about the Spartans then I do about the Athenians? I think I can speak for my generation on the issue of what we have been selectively taught in history classes as well as what we see in the movie theatres. Personally, I believe education wants to shed only positive light on how women were treated long ago because of the still resonant issues of equality today, and the same can be said about mass media. They choose to focus on the Spartans because their women were treated with honor and respect, having a say in their choices and being independent. Because Athenian women were treated so poorly, educators tend to ignore their story. In this paper, I aim to uncover their story, as well as compare their roles to those of Spartan women.Compared to the standards of today's women, the Athenian woman was treated horribly, some may say savagely. The root of this drastic difference seems to lie in how these two city-states were governed. Sparta, which was known for its' militaristic methods, was an oligarchy. Athens, on the other hand, which was known for its' philosophers and thinkers, was a democracy. Sparta's oligarchy was ruled by a counsel of five men, on being a lawmaker or giver, and the lawgiver's name was Lycurgus. Lycurgus was known for his warden-like ways in the training of men for war, but also for his equivalence in the rights of Spartan women, which is key in understanding the differences between the city-states. It has been speculated that women's equality to men sprung from stories "of the Amazons", in which warrior women of the Bronze Age were recognized for their position and bravery in the Trojan War (Who were the Amazons?). Athens, on the other hand, was a democracy that acted with the voice of the people through the Senate and the Roman Council, which was made up of mostly male voices. It was not surprising then that women were so highly maintained and protected. Athenian men have been speculated in believing that "women were…highly sexual beings who could not control their sexual urges and therefore had to be restricted for their own benefit." (Graham) No wonder women were treated so poorly! Men saw females as creatures of disdain and constant maintenance, essentially the cause of all their troubles. One of the great literary men of Athens, Euripides, has proclaimed in his book, Meda, "If only children could be gotten some other way with the female sex! If women didn't exist, human life would be free...


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