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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

Women in the ancient world had few rights. Those they had differed from country to country, or in the case of the women of Athens and Sparta, from citystate to city-state. There were profound differences in the roles that the women of Athens and Sparta experienced in their family, civic, and political lives. With respect to levels of power and the rights of women, Sparta was a leader in its time. At the same time, Spartan and Athenian women’s rights as citizens were similar. Their thoughts, deeds, and opinions were rarely recorded, or if they were, it was the male historians or philosophers of the time who recorded them. What were the roles of women in ancient Athens and Sparta? Were they citizens, did they have personal freedoms? Or, were they, at the time of democracy’s birth, less than a second-class citizen? The misogyny and patriarchal societies of the ancient and classical periods were only beginning to change in the Hellenistic era.

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