Every class in Spartan society had an important duty to perform in order for the state to maintain supremacy over their subjects. Accordingly, Spartan women had to create healthy babies for the Spartan state. They were given many privileges in order to aid in their accomplishment of this role. These privileges involved prominent social positions in regards to education, family, religion and the economy. They also participated in physical training with the boys.
This gave them a slim, athletic build, as conveyed in source A, while also being involved in various singing and dancing competitions, playing instruments and reciting poetry.Women were perhaps the most important feature of Spartan society for many reasons. A major responsibility they were given was to oversee the kleros while their husbands were away at war or in training. According to J.
T Hooker, a woman could also inherit the state owned land from her father. This meant that they controlled the family wealth, and in effect, the Spartan agricultural economy. Spartan male citizens were dependant on their wife’s efficiency to pay their “dues” to the syssitia.Their most important role was to become mothers of citizens.
Xenophon stated, “for free women the most important job was to bear children. ” From birth, mothers disciplined the child and instilled the attitudes of the agoge both physically and psychologically. They introduced their children to physical training and taught them to be tough by refusing to nurture them as babies. They implanted the ideas of constantly performing at perfection, and were ultimately responsible for raising children to conform and be loyal to the state.
Spartan women freely gave up their sons to the agoge at age seven, for their formal military training. Consequently mothers had to maintain her son’s discipline before the introduction to the agoge. Spartan mothers were a vital part in the disciplinary aspect of the Spartan military lifestyle. A famous saying a mother would say to her son while handing him his shield before he left for battle was “either with this or, on this” - the ultimate dream a Spartan mother had for her son was for him to be a hero, and a hero only returned victorious or dead.
Spartan women had a reputation for fitness, physical beauty and a strong, independent character. This is clearly seen through source A, where we can see a lean figure with athletic like qualities. As Aristotle states “Spartan women live without restraint”, and this is true in their involvement in all aspects of Spartan society. However, non-homoioi women or helot women in Sparta were renowned as the nursemaids of the young Spartiates. According to Sarah Pomeroy in Spartan Women, female children of Spartan men and Helot women were left to die.It is believed that the main function of the perioekoi women was reproduction, menial and domestic tasks.
Women were crucial to the unique Spartan system, they were civically emancipated in order to become healthy mothers and consequently to create strong, healthy babies, they had a hand in managing the economy in the form of the kleros and as a result, formed the backbone of the Spartan state. It is evident that Spartan women, through their power, influence and strength of character, were able to become central figures in a highly military and male dominated society.With reference to Source B, and other sources, explain the role of religious festivals in Spartan society Sparta was a very religious society; it was a way of bringing the community together and uniting the gods with every day social and political institutions of the Spartan state. There were nine major festivals that Sparta was concerned with; the three most important were the Karneia, the Gymnopaedia and the Hyakintheia. During festivals everything else stopped. No wars were waged, no assembly meetings were held and no government business was transacted.
All Spartan citizens seemed to have been involved in these religious festivals, be it women or children. The Karneia, thought to be a harvest festival celebrated for nine days during the late summer, was an extremely important festival for the Spartans. It was a celebration of migration, colonisation and the city-foundation of the Doric peoples and of various military events. A group of young men “grape cluster runners” (staphulodromoi) would chase after a man wearing a garland and if they caught him it meant good luck for the harvest.J.
T Hooker believes that the festival is quite ancient, as Spartans wouldn’t usually be concerned about crops and harvest. Their main focus was on serving and protecting the state, however this is contradicted by Sosibius who describes it as a musical festival celebrating heroic deeds and great events. Dr Brian Brennan’s theory is similar to that of Hooker’s as he describes catching a “runner”. Brennan describes the race as a form of prediction in revealing the omens for the year.He feels that the Government could manipulate the truth by persuading the “runner” to be caught and hence securing good omens for the year and restoring good faith in the Kings.
The Gymnopaedia - “the festival of the unarmed boys” - was a commemoration of the Battle of Thyrea fought against Argos about 550BCE. It was held in the marketplace for several days during the midsummer and involved musical competitions for every age group. Even though this festival was musical in nature, a dance performed had somewhat of a military nature, which may have been connected to the Karneia.It was seen as the rite of passage for boys on their way to manhood. The boxing dance has been interpreted as an ordeal of initiation. This festival encouraged what Spartans believed in as it involved the warrior code to initiate the young solider to a life of physical excellence, as identified in source C where Plutarch states “a short period of pain may be compensated by the enjoyment of long-lasting prestige” The festival also initiated the belonging to the community, which helped introduce the idea of serving the Spartan state and working as a team to protect and conquer.
Pausanias stated that this festival was the “most solemn of all Lakonian festivals” The Hyakinthia was a festival named after Hyakinthos, a youth who was the lover of Apollo. He died when Apollo accidentally hit him with a discus. The red hyacinth flower was believed to have sprung from his blood. In his grief, Apollo ordained an annual festival. All major festivals honoured Apollo as a young man. This shows Sparta’s obsession with youth.
Hooker believes that the Hyakinthia festival also covered an aspect of the relationship with the underworld.The fallen dead were honoured especially and the bravest of those that died at Thermopylae were seen as semi-divine. The purpose of Spartan religion was ultimately to gain favour from the gods and hence strength for protection in times of war, also for a mothers fertility (Artemis Orthia) to produce healthy young boys to serve for the Spartan state. Therefore religion reinforced and coincided with their warrior code. With reference to Source C, and other sources, explain the significance of the krypteia.
The krypteia was the secret police force of Sparta. It was run by the ephors that recruited young men and sent them out for a year to spy on the helots. The krypteia were authorised to kill helots, especially those who appeared to have the kinds of qualities that might fit them to lead a helot rebellion. The roles of the Krypteia in Spartan society was essential in suppressing the helots and ensuring that the helot population would not dominate over the Spartiates in power.Herodotus explains how they were also used as training for the boys who were being educated and explains how they would often hide in the fields awaiting the helots and would brutally kill them in order to reduce numbers and to help the boys grow in awareness and fighting duties. The Krypteia served as a type of private service for Sparta and aided the state in suppressing the helots from uprising There are many different perceptions about the krypteia.
One is the view that the krypteia was essentially a violent ‘final test’ for select members of the agoge.The skills learned during this frightening test would be later utilised in their future military lifestyle as hoplites. Conversely, other scholars see the educational aims of the krypteia as secondary; rather they believe its purpose was nothing other than a means to control the helot population through a kind of state-sponsored terrorism. There has been much debate on the interpretation and accuracy of source C, a segment of Plutarch’s ‘Lycurgus’, but it is certainly possible that, if these events were similar to how Plutarch described them, the krypteia would have been the executor.If there was an instance where Sparta needed assassin skills in secret operations, the krypteia was obviously the best available option to accomplish it.
Some scholars feel that the krypteia was exclusively a part of the educational system in Sparta. For example, T. Rutherford Harley in 1934 briefly noted that young men of eighteen years old joined the krypteia after intense training and the agoge. Essentially the krypteia was the next step in Spartan education according to Harley, while in 1956 H. Marrou took a deeper stance on the krypteia in stating that it “in the beginning seems to have been not so much a terrorist mission against the helots but as a campaign exercise intended to adjust the future soldier to the unforgiving life of ambushes and war.
”Richard J. A. Talbert, writing over thirty years later, agreed with Marrou when he wrote “the purpose of the krypteia looks likely to have been much more to ‘blood’ young Spartiates than to keep down the helots. ” Both Marrou and Talbert claimed that the primary purpose of the krypteia was education and training for the Spartan military rather than a technique of suppression.Bibliographyhttp://www.womenintheancientworld.com/women%20in%20sparta.htmhttp://www.ancient.eu.com/article/123/