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Spartan Wives: Liberation or Licence?*

  • Paul Cartledge (a1)

The neologism ‘sexist’ has gained entry to an Oxford Dictionary, The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English, third edition (1974), where it is defined as ‘derisive of the female sex and expressive of masculine superiority’. Thus ‘sexpot’ and ‘sex kitten’, which are still defined in exclusively feminine terms in the fifth edition of The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1976), have finally met their lexicographical match.

This point about current English usage has of course a serious, and general, application. For language reflects, when it does not direct, prevailing social conceptions. Thus it is not accidental that there is no masculine counterpart to the word ‘feminism’. ‘Male chauvinism’, the nearest we have come to coining one, is more emotive than descriptive and so involves ambiguity; while ‘sexism’, even when it is given an exclusively masculine connotation, is still, formally, sexually neutral. ‘Feminism’, by contrast, unequivocally denotes the striving to raise women to an equality of rights and status with men.

It has been suggested, it is true, that there were inchoate feminist movements or tendencies in the ancient Greek world, for example in the Classical Athens of Aristophanes and Plato (where, as we shall see, they would certainly have been in place). But feminism in the modern sense did not really emerge before the eighteenth century; and in Britain, for instance, it was only with the passage in 1975 of the Employment Protection, Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts that women raised themselves on to an all but equal footing with their male fellows — at any rate in the technical, juridical sense.

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1 The O.E.D. Supp. i (1972) defines ‘feminism’ as ‘advocacy of the rights of women (based on the theory of equality of the sexes)’.

2 Flacelière, R., ‘D'un certain féminisme grec’, REA 64 (1962), 109–16, reviewing Vogt, J., Von der Gleichwertigkeit der Geschlechter in der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft der Griechen (Abh. Akad. Mainz, 1960); idem, ‘Le féminisme dans l'ancienne Athènes’, CRAI (1971), 698–706.

3 By contrast, the women of Liechtenstein voted for the first time in the history of the principality on 17 April 1977.

4 de Ste Croix, G. E. M., ‘Some observations on the property rights of Athenian women’, CR n.s. 20 (1970), 273–8, at p. 273.

5 Notably in the United States: see e.g. the special issues of Arethusa for 1973 (which includes a bibliography by S. B. Pomeroy with D. M. Schaps) and 1978.

6 Pomeroy, Sarah B., Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity (London, 1976) (hereafter Pomeroy).

7 Reade, W., The Martyrdom of Man (1872, repr. London, 1934), p. 57.

8 Rawson, E., The Spartan Tradition in European Thought (Oxford, 1969).

9 Two contrasting eighteenth-century representatives of this tradition, Helvétius and Rousseau, may raise a smile: Rawson, op. cit. pp. 241, 243.

10 Rawson, p. 10.

11 e.g. Pomeroy, p. 42: ‘Dorian women, in contrast to Ionian women, enjoyed many freedoms, and among Dorians the Spartans were the most liberated of all’; cf. below, n. 112.

12 cf. the opening remarks of Just, R., ‘Conceptions of women in Classical Athens’, Journal Anthropological Soc. of Oxford 6 (1975), 153–70.

13 Greek gynē, like femme, meant both woman and wife: cf. Humphreys, S. C., JHS 93 (1973), 258, reviewing Vatin, C., Recherches sur le mariage et la condition de la femme mariée à l'époque hellénistique (Paris, 1970).

14 Redfield, J., ‘The women of Sparta’, CJ 73 (1978), 146–61, in fact says very little on its ostensible subject.

15 Degler, C. N., Is there a History of Women? (Oxford Inaugural Lecture, 14 03 1974).

16 By ‘minority’ Degler understands ‘any group that is differentiated from the majority by some recognizable characteristics, be they physical or social… In the case of women…the group has less power than the majority even though it is numerically larger’ (p. 20 n. 15); cf. de Beauvoir, S., The Second Sex (Paris, 1949; Eng. edn Harmondsworth, 1972), passim, esp. pp. 608–39 (hereafter de Beauvoir).

17 This point will be developed by G. E. M. de Ste Croix in his forthcoming book The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World.

18 Ollier, F., Le mirage spartiate, 2 vols. (Paris, 19331943), i, chaps. 5–6, esp. pp. 164–88; Tigerstedt, E. N., The Legend of Sparta in Classical Antiquity, 3 vols. (Stockholm etc., 19651978), i. 155 f. For Aristotle's treatment of Sparta in general see ibid. pp. 280–304; de Laix, R. A., ‘Aristotle's conception of the Spartan constitution’, Journal Hist. Philosophy 12 (1974), 2130.

19 Besterman, T., Voltaire 3 (Oxford, 1976), p. 9

20 This adverse judgement is restated, with further supporting arguments, at Pol. VII. 14, 1333b5–34a10. We might add that Sparta's one-dimensional military ideal, which equated success in war with virtue itself, goes back at least to the time of the Spartan poet Tyrtaios in the mid-seventh century.

21 The MS. reading ⋯кολάστως has been questioned, but it is retained in the Oxford Classical Text (ed. W. D. Ross), to whose numeration all my citations refer.

22 de Beauvoir, p. 222.

23 cf. Plato, , Rep. VIII. 548B, where this defect is said to be characteristic of a timocracy; clearly Plato has Sparta in mind.

24 The translation of Redfield, op. cit. (n. 14) — ‘much is managed by women in their regime’ — seems indefensible.

25 Some (e.g. Redfield) have taken Aristotle to have meant ‘unlike women in other states’; but the prevailing male Greek view since Homer (Il. VI. 490–3 = Od. I. 356–9) was that war was a man's business; cf. e.g. Thuc. III. 74. 2; Aristoph. Lys. 520; and generally Plato, , Alc. I. 126E–127A.

26 The doubt registered by Aristotle's ɸασί (rendered here by ‘traditionally’) presumably concerns the manner whereby the women evaded the laws of Lykourgos. (The latter, if he ever existed, cannot be dated.) Translated into modern historical language, this would amount to asking how the Spartan women became an exception to the rule that ‘the segregation and legal and administrative subordination of women received their original impetus from the fragmentation of the early Greek world into small, continuously warring states’: Dover, K. J., ‘Classical Greek attitudes to sexual behaviour’, Arethusa 6 (1973), 5973, at p. 65.

27 For an apologetic account of Aristotle's view see Fortenbaugh, W. W., ‘Aristotle on slaves and women’, in Barnes, J., Schofield, M., Sorabji, R. (eds.), Articles on Aristotle, 4 vols. (London, 1977), ii. 135–9.

28 cf. Keaney, J. J., ‘The date of Aristotle's Athenaiōn Politeia’, Historia 19 (1970), 326–36.

29 The unreliable Aelian (V.H. VI. 6), writing in the second/third century a.d., says five or more.

30 On the Lak. Pol. see now Higgins, W. E., Xenophon the Athenian (Albany, 1977), pp. 6575, who dates the whole work to the 350s. The essay was written for a non-Spartan audience and is restricted to those points of contrast between Sparta and other states which in the author's view most accounted for Spartan supremacy.

31 The surviving fragments of this, one of the 158 Constitutions compiled by Aristotle and his pupils, are collected by V. Rose in his Teubner edition of Aristotelian fragments (frr. 532–45) and by Dilts, M. R. in his edition of Herakleides Lembos, Excerpta Politiarum (372. 9–373. 13).

32 For a source-critical examination of the Life see Kessler, E., Plutarchs Leben des Lykurgos (Berlin, 1910). On Plutarch as an interpreter of Sparta see Ollier, op. cit. (n. 18), ii. 165–215; Tigerstedt, op. cit. (n. 18), ii. 226–64.

33 We do not know whether newborn girls were subjected to the ritualistic and/or hygienic wine-baths endured by their brothers (Plut. Lyk. 16. 3). Nor do we know if the Spartan wet-nurses who acquired something of a cachet outside Sparta (Plut. Alk. 1. 3, Lyk. 16. 5) were of citizen status. The nannies praised by Plutarch (Lyk. 16. 4) were perhaps unfree.

34 Lacey, W. K., The Family in Classical Greece (London, 1968), p. 197 (hereafter Lacey); Pomeroy, 36. The passage in question also contains a reference to the possibility of abortion (cf. Mor. 242C; [Hippokr., ], On the Nature of the Child, 13. 2); but direct evidence for this (as opposed to infanticide) is non-existent for our period.

35 However, Germain, L. R. F., ‘Aspects du droit d'exposition en Grèce’, RD, 4th ser. 47 (1969), 177–97, at pp. 179 f., doubts whether exposure was frequent in our period.

36 Exposure in Sparta (esp. Plut. Lyk. 16. 2): Glotz, G., ‘L'exposition des enfants’, Etudes sociales et juridiques sur l'antiquité grecque (Paris, 1906), pp. 187–27, at pp. 188, 192, and esp. pp. 217–19; Roussel, P., ‘L'exposition des enfants à Sparte’, REA 45 (1943), 517. Shortage of women in Sparta: the direct evidence is weak — no spinsters versus attested polyandry and only one known instance of bigamy (below) — but see generally Pomeroy, pp. 227 f. Possibly too infant mortality, which was no doubt high in ancient Greece, affected girls more than boys.

37 Such anecdotes may of course legitimately be construed as retrojections of later practice; but it can be rash to generalize from royal practice and, secondly, Lykourgos' injunction — that his brother's posthumous offspring, if born female, should be handed over to the women — does not entail that she would then be reared, since she might be born deformed or feeble.

38 Page, D. L., Alcman. The Partheneion (Oxford, 1951), pp. 66 f., tentatively attributed this homosexuality to the close association between women and girls in cult and in the gymnasia. Calame, C., Les choeurs de jeunes filles en Grèce archaïque, 2 vols. (Rome, 1977), i. 433–6, argues that it had an educative function. Dover, K. J., Greek Homosexuality (London, 1978), p. 181, speaks in this connection (following J. Hallett) of ‘an overt “sub-culture”, or rather “counter-culture”; in which women and girls received from their own sex what segregation and monogamy denied them from men’. However, according to Pomeroy, p. 55, ‘the most important factor, both at Sparta and at Lesbos, in fostering female homoerotic attachments was that women in both societies were highly valued’.

39 Nilsson, M. P., ‘Die Grundlagen des Spartanischen Lebens’, Klio 12 (1908), 308–40, reprinted in Opera Selecta, 3 vols. (Lund, 19511960), ii. 826–69, at p. 848. See also below, n. 63.

40 Clothesmaking: Herfst, P., Le travail de la femme dans la Grèce ancienne (Paris, 1922), pp. 1824. Cooking: ibid. pp. 24–32. Exemption of Spartan women: ibid. pp. 112 f. But it was Spartan women who wove the tunic (chitōn) for Apollo of Amyklai each year (Paus. III. 16. 2).

41 The sixth-century bronze figurines of girl runners from Sparta (Inv. 3305), Delphi (Inv. 3072), Albania (London, B.M. 208) and Dodona (Athens, N.M. Carapanos 24) are very possibly all of Spartan make. The dress of the third, leaving one breast bare, vividly recalls Paus. V. 16. 3 (race between virgins at Olympia in honour of Hera).

42 Calame, op. cit. (n. 38), esp. i. 350–7, has ingeniously reconstructed a Spartan cycle of female initiation conforming to the model of Van Gennep. Hypothetically, this consisted of a complex series of rites de passage designed ultimately to confer on the girls full adult status within the civic community, the primary emphasis being placed on their sexuality, marriage and maternity. However, although his case for the initiatory function of at least some aspects of the cults discussed seems well grounded, the reconstruction as a whole remains far from demonstrated.

43 We do, however, learn from Athenaios (XIII. 566 E) of mixed wrestling between adolescents on the island of Chios.

44 This idea may lie behind the ben trovato apophthegm (Plut. Mor. 232 C) purporting to explain why Spartan virgins did not wear veils in public, whereas the wives did. For the topic in general see North, H., Sophrosyne. Self-knowledge and Self-restraint in Greek Literature (Ithaca, 1966), esp: pp. 6884 (Euripides), 95 f. (Kritias), 128 and n. 17 (Xenophon), 197–211 (Aristotle).

45 The dress of the women seems to have been no more inhibiting than that of the girls: Plut. Hor. 241B; Teles ap. Stob., Flor. 108. 83 (anasyramenē could be translated colloquially as flashing’).

46 cf. Eur. Andr. 597 f., Hec. 933 f.; Soph. fr. 788N; Pollux II. 187, VII. 54 f.; Clement, , Paed. II. 10. 114. 1. For thighs as an erotogenic feature see Athen. XIII. 602E (though perhaps ‘thighs’ was a conventional euphemism for a part of the female anatomy which it was literally shameful to reveal). For the way that female clothing has often been deliberately designed to hinder activity see de Beauvoir, p. 190; cf. ibid. pp. 323, 429, 442.

47 The series includes the four items cited above (n. 41), together with Athens, N.M. 15897, 15900; Berlin (Charlottenburg) 10820, 31084; New York, Met. 38. 11. 3, 06. 11. 04; Paris, Louvre; Sparta Mus. 594, 3302; Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Mus. VI 2925, 4979. Karageorgha, Th., AD 20. 1 (1965), 96109, publishes Sparta 3302 with further comparanda; all are discussed in U. Häfner, ‘Das Kunstschaffen Lakoniens in archaischer Zeit’ (Diss. Münster, 1965); cf. Rolley, Cl., ‘Le problème de l'art laconien’, Ktema 2 (1977), 125–40, at p. 130. They were almost certainly made by men, some of whom could have been Spartan citizens. But the mirrors at least could have been commissioned and/or dedicated by women; cf. below, n. 54. We may add a unique sixth-century Spartan clay kylix (cup) on whose interior are depicted three nude and long-haired girls disporting themselves by a river: Stibbe, C. M., Lakonische Vasenmaler des sechsten Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (Amsterdam, 1972), pp. 133, 280, no. 209.

48 The chief sources are Aristoph. fr. 338, Lys. 1105, 1148, 1174, with Ehrenberg, V., The People of Aristophanes 3 (New York, 1962), p. 180 and n. 7; Xen. L.P. 2. 12–14; Plato, , Laws VIII 836 A—C; Plut. Lyk. 18. 8 f., Ages. 2. 1, Mor. 761D; Cic. de rep. IV. 4. 4; Hesychius, Suda, Photius s.v. ‘Lakōnikon tropon’. Dover, op. cit. (n. 38), pp. 185 ff., seems to me somewhat to understate this feature of Spartan society.

49 I suspect, however, that the alleged Spartan practice of stripping virgins in front of foreigners or guest-friends (xenoi: Athen. XIII. 566E) is pure invention.

50 See below, n. 72.

51 On the apophthegms — those attributed to Spartan women are Plut. Mor. 240C–242D — see Tigerstedt, op. cit. ii. 16–30. Contrast the conventional male Athenian attitude to free public speech for women: Soph. Ajax 293; Eur. Her. 476 f., fr. 61; Thuc. II. 45. 2, 46.

52 Wender, D., ‘Plato: misogynist, paedophile and feminist’, Arethusa 6 (1973), 7590.

53 But see MacDowell, D. M.'s edition of Wasps (Oxford, 1971) ad loc.

54 From the late seventh century onwards we have ex-votos from Sparta inscribed with the name of a dedicatrix. Since the recipient deities were also female and a fair proportion of the uninscribed offerings have feminine associations, many of the dedications were probably offered by women. However, the names of only about a dozen Spartan women are attested epigraphically in our period (the corresponding figure for men is about a hundred), as against about fifty in the literary sources.

55 See my Literacy in the Spartan oligarchy’, JHS 98 (1978), 2537, where I also discuss brachylogy.

56 The position of Roman women, at least those of the highest social class, seems to me parallel in this respect: cf. Daube, D., Civil Disobedience in Antiquity (Edinburgh, 1972), pp. 23 ff.

57 For a succinct exposition of the structure of Spartan society as it had been remodelled by the fifth century see Finley, M. I., ‘Sparta’, in The Use and Abuse of History (London, 1975), pp. 161–77.

58 Esp. Od. XIII. 412 (the only use of the adjective kalligynaika in the Odyssey); and the probably seventh-century oracle discussed in Parke, H. W. and Wormell, D. E. W., The Delphic Oracle 2, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1956), i. 82 f., ii, no. 1; also Theopompos, , FGrHist 115F 240; Herakl. Lembos ap. Athen. XIII. 566 A. Such internal estimation and praise by outsiders are remarkable given the universal Greek ‘cult of beauty’: Bickerman, E. J., ‘Love story in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite’, Athenaeum n.s. 54 (1976), 229–54, at p. 231.

59 We are not told whether Lampito had suckled children, but it is a fair assumption that she had. The Athenian Lysistrata might therefore have been obvious that Lampito's breasts had not lost their shape.

60 The best discussion, with full modern bibliography, of Alkman's maiden-songs is Calame, op. cit.

61 For the latter cf. Aristoph. Lys. 1312 and the cup (above, n. 47).

62 e.g. Hesiod, , Op. 695–8; [Hippokr., ], Peri Parthenōn I. 16; Plato, , Rep. V. 460E–461 A, Laws VI. 785B; Arist. Pol. VII. 16, 1334b 29 ff.; cf. Aristoph. Lys. 595–7; Xen. Oec. 7. 4 f. For comparative Roman evidence cf. Hopkins, M. K., ‘The age of Roman girls at marriage’, Population Studies 18 (1965), 309–27; idem, ‘On the probable age structure of the Roman population’, ibid. 20 (1966), 245–64, esp. pp. 260–4 (important methodologically).

63 However, as is correctly observed by Vidal-Naquet, P., ‘Les jeunes. Le cru, l'enfant grec et le cuit’, in Le Goff, J. and Nora, P. (eds.), Faire de l'histoire, 3 vols. (Paris, 1974), iii. 137–68, at p. 160, ‘what we know of [the Spartan girl's] infancy and adolescence looks less like a preparation, punctuated by rituals, for marriage than a carbon copy of masculine institutions'.

64 Daube, D., The Duty of Procreation (Edinburgh, 1977), p. 11, suggests that they were introduced c. 500 b.c. to strengthen the male citizen population in the face of the growing Persian threat. If the dating is correct, this was no doubt part of their motivation; but a greater one may have been fear of the size of the native Greek serf population, the Helots.

65 Amundsen, D. W. and Diers, C. J., ‘The age of menarche in classical Greece’, Human Biology 41 (1969), 125–32; cf. Angel, J. L., ‘Ecology and population in the eastern Mediterranean’, World Archaeology 4 (1972), 88105, at p. 97.

66 Seltman, C. T., Women in Antiquity (London, 1956), p. 80.

67 See e.g. Tazelaar, C. M., ‘Παῖδɛς кα⋯ ῎Εɸηβοι; some notes on the Spartan stages of youth’, Mnemosyne, 4th ser. 20 (1967), 127–53.

68 Lacey, p. 318 n. 50. This figure is at least not contradicted by the evidence mustered in White, M. E., ‘Some Agiad dates: Pausanias and his sons’, JHS 84 (1964), 140–52, although Professor White herself thinks the men married at thirty. For a range of overlapping ideas on the proper age for a Greek man to marry see Solon fr. 27. 9 f. West; Plato, , Laws VI. 772DE; Arist. Pol. VII. 16, 1335a28–30.

69 This seems to me to contradict the view of Bickerman, , ‘La conception du manage à Athènes’, Boll. Ist. Diritto rom., 3rd ser. 17 (1976), 128, at p. 2, that ‘the Athenians, and doubtless all the civilized peoples around the Mediterranean, regarded marriage, in the age of Plato, simply as a family affair in which the State was not involved’. But I agree with the main thesis of this article, that the chief purpose of Greek marriage was to establish legitimacy of offspring and so rights of succession to hereditary private property. For the Roman conception of marriage see Williams, G., ‘Some aspects of Roman marriage ceremonies and ideals’, JRS 48 (1958), 1630.

70 Plato, , Laws VII. 804D, XI. 923A; Arist., Pol. VII. 16, 1334b 29 ff., 1335b 28 f. For Sparta see Plut. Lyk. 15. 14, Pyrrhus 28. 6, Mor. 223 A.

71 Statue (Sparta Inv. 364): Boardman, J., Greek Sculpture: the Archaic period (London, 1978), p. 62, fig. 80. Terracottas: Dawkins, R. M. (ed.), Artemis Orthia (JHS Supp. V, London, 1929), p. 51 and fig. 29.

72 In the light of epigraphical evidence (IG V. 1. 713–14, and perhaps 824), Plut. Lyk. 27. 2 (‘priestesses in office’) has been emended by K. Latte to read ‘women in childbed’. Pomeroy, p. 36 and n. 8 adopts this reading, but it should be pointed out that it has no MS. support.

73 Fermor, P. Leigh, Mani (London, 1958), p. 69. Rawson, op. cit. (n. 8), pp. 292, 321, 358, cites sources representing the Maniotes as Spartans redivivos.

74 op. cit. (n. 58), esp. pp. 237, 244, 247.

75 The connection between beauty and marriage, at least royal marriage, at Sparta was so strong that Plutarch (Mor. 1D) misrepresents a story told by Theophrastos about Archidamos II (reigned c. 469–27) being fined for marrying a small woman (Plut. Ages. 2. 6). In the former passage the ground of guilt has become the wife's ugliness.

76 For the existence of a true Spartan aristocracy see Oliva, P., Sparta and her Social Problems (Amsterdam and Prague, 1971), pp. 118–22, 136; on ‘privileged families’ at Sparta see de Ste Croix, G. E. M., The Origins of the Peloponnesian War (London, 1972), pp. 137 f., 353 f., following Chrimes, K. M. T., Ancient Sparta (Manchester, 1949), esp. chaps. 3–6, 10–11.

77 Finley, M. I., The World of Odysseus 2 (London, 1977), p. 103; Gernet, L., ‘Mariages de tyrans’, in Anthropologie de la Grèce antique (Paris, 1968), pp. 344–59.

78 Although a ‘descendant of Herakles’ by birth (Plut. Lys. 2. 1), Lysander seems to have risen to political prominence from a lowly economic station.

79 We should not be deceived either by Xenophon's rhetorical question (L.P. 7. 3) — ‘what need was there to worry about wealth in a society where equal contributions to the mess and a uniform standard of living excluded the search for wealth in order to obtain luxury?’ — or by Plutarch's assertion (Lyk. 10. 4) that under the ‘Lykourgan’ regime wealth was deprived of its very being and became as it were blind.

80 For a fuller discussion of the Spartan property-regime see my Sparta and Lakonia (London, 1979), chap. 10; and for the catastrophic decline in male citizen numbers between 480 and 371, ibid. chap. 14. I cannot agree with many of the conclusions of Christien, J., ‘La loi d'Epitadeus: un aspect de l'histoire économique et sociale à Sparte’, RD, 4th ser. 52 (1974), 197221.

81 op. cit. (n. 4), 273 f.

82 SIG 3 306. 4–9, 48–57; cf. IG V. 2. 159 (fifth century b.c.).

83 Toynbee, A. J., Some Problems of Greek History (Oxford, 1969), pp. 329–37; Huxley, G. L., ‘Crete in Aristotle's Politics’, GRBS 12 (1971), 505–15, at pp. 513 f.

84 The standard edition, with translation, of the Gortyn Code is Willetts, R. F., The Law Code of Gortyn (Berlin, 1967); cf. Paoli, U., ‘L'antico diritto di Gortina’, in Altri studi di diritto greco e romano (Milan, 1976), pp. 481507.

85 Wolff, H. J., RE XXIII, s.v. προῖξ (1957), cols. 133–70, at cols. 166 f. Contrast Schaps, D. M., Economic Rights of Women in Ancient Greece (Edinburgh, 1979), pp. 43 f., 88. However, as Schaps himself observes, ‘our other evidence seems to support the conclusion that Spartan women were indeed possessors of wealth in their own right’ (p. 88; cf. 6, 7, 12 f.); and he appositely cites Xen. Ages. 9. 6 (the wealth in racehorses owned by Kyniska, sister of Agesilaos II; cf. p. 117 n. 87).

86 Hermippos fr. 87; Plut. Mor. 227F; cf. 242B; Aelian V.H. VI. 6; Justin III. 3. 8.

87 Philo's evidence is doubted, though without adequate reason, by Erdmann, W., Die Ehe im alten Griechenland (Munich, 1934), pp. 183–5. Jannet, C., Les institutions sociales et le droit civile à Sparte 2 (Paris, 1880), p. 95, argued that such marriages would have been excluded in practice, but his argument rested on two false assumptions exemplifying the tendency to regard ‘Greek law’ as a unitary system: first, that the Athenian anchisteia rule, whereby an heiress was bound to marry her nearest male kin, ‘existed in Sparta in all its rigour’ (p. 91); secondly, that daughters had no share in the paternal inheritance.

88 On incest generally see e.g. Fox, R., Kinship and Marriage (Harmondsworth, 1967), pp. 5476.

89 cf. Croix, Ste, ‘Athenian family law’, CR n.s. 20 (1970), 307–10, at p. 309, reviewing Harrison, A. R. W., The Law of Athens: the Family and Property (Oxford, 1968); also de Beauvoir, pp. 40, 111.

90 Lacey, p. 201.

91 The topics considered in the foregoing section may usefully be reviewed in the light of comparative evidence from Goody, J., Thirsk, J., Thompson, E. P. (eds.), Family and Inheritance. Rural society in Western Europe 1200–1800 (Cambridge, 1976), esp. J. Goody, ‘Inheritance, property and women: some comparative considerations’, pp. 10–36.

92 The fundamental study of engyē is now Bickerman, op. cit. (n. 69): ‘it is the institution of engyē which gives Athenian marriage its peculiar character’ (p. 8). The usage of Herodotus is ambiguous: either he believed (wrongly) that Athenian engyē existed at Sparta; or, as Bickerman, ibid. pp. 19 f., suggests, he meant that an ‘affianced’ heiress could not be married against her wishes to another man. The latter seems the more likely. Since engyē was specifically Athenian, Bickerman speaks of accordailles at Sparta, to convey that such arrangements did not necessarily imply legitimacy for any future offspring. Such accordailles, however, were apparently legally binding (Plut. Lys. 30. 6).

93 The existence of the kyrieia at Sparta is denied by Bickerman, ibid., who rightly observed (p. 20) that ‘the position of the woman at Sparta was quite different from that of the Athenian woman’. A non liquet is registered by Beasley, T. W., ‘The kyrios in Greek states other than Athens’, CR 20 (1906), 210–13, at pp. 212 f.

94 The difficulty of meaning in the passage of Xenophon stems from the ambiguity of ⋯νανδρία: see Moore, J. M., Aristotle and Xenophon on Democracy and Oligarchy (London, 1975), p. 85. I do not think my interpretation in the text is contradicted by Xenophon's omission of women from the list of items controlled by a man (L.P. 6. 1). See also below, nn. 112, 117.

95 I put ‘engaged’ in inverted commas because ⋯ρμοσ⋯μɛνος should technically mean ‘having got married but not yet having consummated the marriage’.

96 On ‘marriage by capture’ see e.g. Mair, L., Marriage (Harmondsworth, 1970), pp. 110 ff. (chiefly African).

97 Starcke, C. N., The Primitive Family in its Origin and Development (London, 1889), p. 19.

98 cf. Finley, ‘Anthropology and the Classics’, in op. cit. (n. 57), pp. 102–19, esp. pp. 116 f.: ‘what anthropology illuminates about Sparta, paradoxically, are certain aspects of her lost early history rather than the Sparta from which the fossilized evidence comes’.

99 Erdmann, op. cit. (n. 87), pp. 199 f., with the review by Rose, H. J., JHS 55 (1935), 256 f.

100 cf. de Beauvoir, pp. 106, 394, 396.

101 Nilsson, M. P., Griechische Feste von religiöser Bedeutung mit Ausschluβ der athenischen (Leipzig, 1906), pp. 371 f.

102 This prohibition is directly attested only in the Aristotelian Lak. Pol. as excerpted by Herakleides Lembos (373.13 Dilts); but it is implied in Lucian, , Fugitivi 27; and perhaps also Xenophon of Ephesos V. 1. 7 (I owe this reference to Ewen Bowie).

103 See my Hoplites and heroes: Sparta's contribution to the technique of ancient warfare’, JHS 97 (1977), 1127, at p. 15 and n. 39. It is true, as is pointed out by Vidal-Naquet, op. cit. (n. 63), p. 159, that this does not constitute a rite de passage in the same sense as the dedication of severed locks; but adolescent Spartan boys, like the married women, wore their hair close-cropped.

104 Gernet, L., Le génie grec dans la religion (Paris, 1933), p. 40; Delcourt, M., Hermaphrodite. Mythes et rites de la bisexualité dans l'antiquité classique (Paris, 1958), pp. 7, 11 (with bibliography on p. 132).

105 Devereux, G., ‘Greek pseudo-homosexuality and the “Greek Miracle”’, SO 42 (1967), 6992, at pp. 76, 84. For Spartan homosexuality see above, n. 48.

106 As Lacey, p. 200, remarks, initial secrecy would have been facilitated if marriages in Sparta generally occurred in the winter months, as they seem to have done in the rest of Greece (Arist. Pol. VII. 16, 1335a 37–9).

107 The references are given by Griffiths, A. H., ‘Alcman's Partheneion: the morning after the night before’, QUCC 14 (1972), 130, at pp. 10 f.; but he has not convinced me that the most famous of Alkman's maiden-songs (fr. 1 Page) is really an epithalamion.

108 Nilsson, op. cit. (n. 39), p. 855; Lacey, p. 318 n. 56; Bickerman, op. cit. (n. 58), 232 f., suggests that such marriages are quite regular in agrarian societies.

109 The office of Gynaikonomos (Controller of Women) is not attested in Sparta before the reign of Trajan, but the earliest references to the magistracy as such are in Aristotle's Politics: see generally Wehrli, C., ‘Les gynéconomes’, MH 19 (1962), 33–8. I can make nothing of the ‘Lakonian key’ first attested in Aristophanes (Thesm. 423), which apparently worked only from the outside: Barton, I. M., ‘Tranio's Laconian key’, GR, 2nd ser. 19 (1972), 2531.

110 Hdt. IV. 104; Arist. Pol. II. 3, 1262a 2O ff.; Caesar, , B.G. V. 14 f.; Strabo XI. 9. 1, C515, XVI. 4. 25, C783. For the modern world see Starcke, op. cit. (n. 97), pp. 128–40.

111 See Thiel, J. H., ‘De feminarum apud Dores condicione. ii’, Mnemosyne n.s. 58 (1930), 402–9, at p. 403 (this article is devoted to plural marriage and polykoity).

112 This of course could imply the existence of the kyrieia. Pomeroy, p. 37, however, finds it ‘easier to believe that the women also initiated their own liaisons, whether purely for pleasure or because they accepted the society's valuation of childbearing’.

113 This suggestion is borne out by the context in which the polyandry is introduced by Polybius, the mixed marriages between slave men and free women at the time of the foundation of Lokroi in southern Italy c. 700 b.c.

114 Leach, E. R., ‘Polyandry, inheritance and the definition of marriage’, reprinted in Goody, J. (ed.), Kinship (Harmondsworth, 1971), pp. 151–62, at p. 154. The Spartan system, incidentally, does not contradict Leach's hypothesis that polyandry ‘is consistently associated with systems in which women as well as men are the bearers of property-rights’.

115 In addition to Leach, op. cit., see Adams, R. N., ‘An inquiry into the nature of the family’, in Dole, G. E. and Carneiro, R. L. (eds.), Essays in the Science of Culture in honor of Leslie A. White (New York, 1960), pp. 3049.

116 The only attested instance is Kleonymos (uncle of Areus I, who reigned 309–265) with Chilonis (Plut. Pyrrhus 27. 17–19, 28. 5 f.). The simplest explanation of such marriages is that the man is remarrying on the death (frequently perhaps in childbed) of his first wife.

117 Plutarch (Mor. 242 B) has the same idea that the husband must be persuaded, but here the emphasis is laid upon the wife's duty of obedience in the first instance to her father and thereafter to her husband — again, the kyrieia seems to be implied.

118 We might add that, if a daughter were produced, she and the existing son(s) would be homomatrioi and so, following Philo (n. 87), entitled to marry. They would thus unite in the succeeding generation the property of their married parents with that of the extra-marital partner.

119 Boer, W. Den, Laconian Studies (Amsterdam, 1954), pp. 216 f.

120 Lacey, pp. 207 f. However, Lacey's study is misleading to the extent that it equates the Greek oikos (household) with our ‘family’ and employs an ideal-typical model of ‘the family in the city-state’, as if this had everywhere in Greece served the same functions and had the same history.

121 But his strained attempt to prove that Spartan men were more modest even than the women (L.P. 3. 4 f.) suggests that the accusation of female indiscipline (anesis) in Sparta was already current.

122 Xen. Ages. 4. 5; Plut. Alk. 23. 7–9, Ages. 3. 1 ff., Mor. 467F; Anon. ap. Athen. XIII. 574 CD ( = Kock, , Comicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, iii, p. 398).

123 Pembroke, S. G., ‘Locres et Tarente: le rôle des femmes dans la fondation de deux colonies grecques’, Annales (ESC) 25 (1970), 1240–70; Vidal-Naquet, P., ‘Esclavage et gynécocratie dans la tradition, le mythe, l'utopie’, in Nicolet, C. (ed.), Recherches sur les structures sociales dans l'Antiquité classique (Paris, 1970), pp. 6380, at pp. 72–5.

124 Lotze, D., ‘Mothakes’, Historia 11 (1962), 427–35, followed in the main by Toynbee, op. cit. pp. 343–6; and Oliva, op. cit. pp. 174–7.

125 Athen. XIII. 574CD, 591F; Clement, , Paed. II. 10. 105. 2. There is a single representation of flute-girls in sixth-century Lakonian vase painting (Stibbe, op. cit. pp. 243, 279, no. 191), but this probably owes more to artistic convention than real Spartan life.

126 cf. Pembroke, , ‘Women in charge: the function of alternatives in early Greek tradition and the ancient idea of matriarchy’, JWI 30 (1967), pp. 135. Sparta in our period certainly does not meet C. G. Thomas' acceptable definition of a matriarchal society as ‘one in which women enjoy recognizable economic, social and religious privileges which, in sum, give them greater authority than men’: Matriarchy in early Greece: the Bronze and Dark Ages’, Arethusa 6 (1973), 173–95.

127 This huge vessel (1·64 m high) is of disputed origin, but a cogent case for manufacture in Sparta can be made out; for some recent bibliography on this controversy see Rolley, op. cit. (n. 47), 131 f., 139. Around its neck there progresses a stately file of armed men; above them, in the form of a lid-handle, rises the crowning figure of a demure, draped woman.

128 de Beauvoir, p. 89; cf. pp. 120 f., 143, 157, 174, 189, 446, 598.

* This essay is essentially a shortened and annotated version of a paper delivered before the Oxford Philological Society in November 1976. I am grateful to those who took part in the ensuing discussion, especially P. Vidal-Naquet and S. G. Pembroke, for helpful comments and criticisms.

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