Spartan women were strong, both physically and mentally. The Spartan woman was educated, with knowledge of the arts, music, war, philosophy and much more, she was allowed rights that no other woman of Greece was afforded. Spartan women were the alpha women of the ancient Greek world, they wielded the most power, and in many ways had the most equality afforded to them by the state of Sparta.
While the Spartan woman was much more free than Greek women, she still had a regiment to conform too, just as a Spartan man did. Sparta had a map for each citizen and they were expected to follow it for the good and continued success of the state.
After a Spartan woman had passed her physical test at the age of 18 she was then granted full citizenship to Sparta. Which meant she was now eligible to be considered for marriage and was afforded many rights other Greek women were not.
The health of Spartan women
Spartan women as we have mentioned before were required to be physically fit and healthy. It was thought in ancient Sparta that healthy, strong women would give birth to healthy and strong children. The physical exercise that the women would undertake would make them the true opposite of many women in Greece, by comparison the Spartan women would be strong and athletic by nurture, whereas the Greek woman would only be athletic by nature, and even so would not likely realise it.
The benefits of being a Spartan woman
Spartan women also had many other benefits bestowed upon them, unlike their ancient Greek counterparts. They were not expected to eat as little as possible, instead they were allowed to indulge more, and were allowed to drink wine just like the Spartan men. Whether they were afforded more luxury due to the exercise they undertook that allowed them to burn more calories, therefore keeping their bodies trim and in shape we don’t fully know, but it seems a highly likely explanation.
Marriage for a Spartan Woman
Unlike many of the other Greek women, the Spartan woman would not likely get married until her late teens or even her early twenties. While this is not considered an old age in modern times, in ancient lands this was not the typical age for a woman to marry.
The exercise that Spartan women enjoyed would make them suitable for childbirth, strong and capable to carry a healthy child the Spartans believed. This would be one of the primary reason for marriage also, even though in the early stages of the marriage the woman and man would not be permitted to live together. This act was believed to make the relationship stronger, more full of desire due to the time apart.
Motherhood for a Spartan Woman
Spartan women were credited for making Spartan men strong, their strong hand and firm belief in the state was though to be one of the many reason for the military might of the ancient state. Of course a Spartan women was just as likely to have a baby girl as a baby boy and the two while sharing an almost unparalleled level of equality in the ancient world were treated differently. A Spartan mother would have her son taken away for training around around age seven, while Spartan girls were allowed to stay with their mother until they were to marry.
Motherhood was an important role for a Spartan woman, it was in fact her primary goal in life. Much of the manual labour of everyday life would be carried out by the state owned helots, leaving a Spartan woman time to consider motherhood, prepare for it, and give birth to as many strong babies as she could.
Spartan girls like the boys would live with their parents up until the age of six or seven, after that they would be required to attend a school of sorts. This attitude of educating girls was something rather unique about Sparta, but the girls would live, sleep and exercise in their own living quarters.
While in this stage the Spartan girls would have to learn many things, and while documentation about exactly what Spartan girls would learn is rare, it’s commonly thought that their education was almost an equal to that of the boys. Subjects they would study included poetry, history, drama, reading and writing, music and art among other subjects and would provide them with enough knowledge to give them a position no other woman in Greece would experience at the time.
Just like the boys, Spartan girls would be expected to be physically fit. A healthy woman would give birth to healthy babies, which when you think about it makes perfect sense, and the Spartans lived by this. The young Spartan girls would be allowed to exercise publicly outside with the Spartan boys, another rarity in ancient Greece, where most girls were not allowed even outside unless performing a chore or some description. Spartan girls would even learn combat, how to fight, wrestle and even gymnastic training, all of which would prepare them suitably should they ever need to defend themselves or Sparta.
The next test in life for Spartan girls would occur when they turned 18, and their physical training would be key to them succeeding. At this age, Spartan girls would be tested for citizenship, it’s thought that this test was a mix of physical testing and mental testing, and allowed them to prove their worth and is successful become a citizen of Sparta. If the girl would fail her test, then she would not qualify to become a citizen and would be marked as middle class, which the Spartans would refer to as perioikos.
One a Spartan girl had passed her test, she was now a woman and all the benefits that were afforded to her from this were now available.