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Spartan Education: Girls

By Yona Williams    7/3/06

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When it came to the education of Spartan citizens, one of the differences that can be seen between this city-state and others is that it was one of the only locations to allow girls to receive an education among other equal rights. In this article, you will read about the education of Spartan girls, which differs from the intense education the boys received.

 

The Spartan boys did endure cruel educational lessons, but don’t think that the women weren’t trained to hold their own. When a girl turned six or seven, they were sent to school just like their brothers. They spent most of their time, sleeping, training and living within the barracks of their sisterhood. It is unknown whether or not the females were subjected to the same type of harsh environment as the boys did, but it is known that the girls were taught subjects that the girls of today would lose their lunch over.

 

In ancient Spartan times, the girls were taught how to wrestle, as well as perform gymnastics. They were also schooled on the ins and outs of combat, developing skills that could be quite useful if the time came. When historians take a closer look at the schooling during this ancient period of time, many theories were established where the belief that the boys and girls schooling were not that different developed. Some believe that the girls were trained just as hard as the boys. The reason why the Spartan women did not pass the time learning how to sew and cook a full-course meal was because first and foremost, the Spartan women were expected to be strong. It was thought that a strong woman would be able to produce strong, healthy offspring.

 

When the female Spartan turned 18 years of age, she would have to pass a skills and fitness test before moving on to the next phase of their life. If they passed their examinations, they would be assigned a husband and were allowed to return to the comforts of their own home. Those who failed their final test would not return home as a true citizen of Spartan and would be looked upon as a perioikos, which was considered a member of the middle class. If you think this was a harsh treatment of women: no true love or romance, as well as harsh tests to pass, you should know that Sparta gave women a chance that no other city-states allowed. Most of the city-states throughout Greece believed that the women should remain inside the home for most of their lives. This was not the case in Sparta. Women who earned their citizenship could move about the city as they pleased. They enjoyed the freedom that woman today enjoy, especially since their husbands did not reside within the home with them.

 

At age 18, if a Sparta girl passed her skills and fitness test, she would be assigned a husband and allowed to return home. If she failed, she would lose her rights as a citizen, and became a perioikos, a member of the middle class. In most of the other Greek city-states, women were required to stay inside their homes most of their lives. In Sparta, citizen women were free to move around, and enjoyed a great deal of freedom, as their husbands did not live at home.

 

Once a Spartan soldier was given his title, they would spend most of their lives with their fellow soldiers. The brotherhood barracks became a great comfort, serving as home, training facility, as well as eating and sleeping quarters. Spartan soldiers who were married did not live with their wives or families; the barracks was their main home. The life of a military man had a lengthy period of time before reaching retirement. When a Spartan soldier turned 60 years old, he was allowed to retire and live with his family.

 

 

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