¶ … Bettany Hughes, the Ancient Worlds 5 of 7 the Spartans
Points from the Film:
Unlike the Athenians, Spartans were not known for their philosophical insights or their artistic triumphs. They were known for being frugal and for being fighters. Their society was built on the idea that it could only stand so long as they were physically strong. Thus, Spartans had a strict code of discipline and self-sacrifice: everything was done to protect the State. The weak were viewed as a threat to the State's strength and weak children were killed. While this may seem like a barbaric exercise today, it was a matter of fact practice in ancient Sparta and everyone there accepted it.
Another curious point about Sparta was that male homosexuality was compulsory in Sparta. Women could also take lesbian lovers if they chose. This was because sex between a man and woman was primarily viewed as the lining up of lineages that would best promote strong off-spring. It was similar to the breeding practices of prize thoroughbreds today: Spartans bred so as to produce prize fighters. Sex between men and women was for procreation.
Girls were expected to be physically fit -- just like men: the idea was that healthy women would produce healthy babies, who would grow up to be strong and perpetuate the State. Women fought in combats and contests like the men...
Spartans did not view love between men and women in a very romantic sense, obviously. The Spartan's prime years were for training and fighting -- not for romancing.
Unlike in other Greek city-states, women had a high degree of power and authority. Women were economically independent, had a say in society, and governed their own destinies. Spartan women sometimes even achieved a celebrity status -- Cynisca is the most famous example of this: a Spartan princess and a sporting legend. Women were very powerful and important in Spartan society. Compared to Athens, where women were not frequently out in public, one could say that Spartan women to some extent literally ran the show.
Monogamy and the nuclear family were not important to Spartans -- what mattered was that strong progeny were produced. Thus, leaving a weak newborn to die was not inhumane --…
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