gates of fire

gates of fire - Warrior Spirit: The Women of Sparta Michael...

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Warrior Spirit: The Women of Sparta Michael Slagh HH205P: Western Civilization CDR Kelly, USN 10 February 2005
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The Women of Sparta The women of Sparta were the backbone and lifeblood of Spartan society, while terror and trepidation were emotions evoked by the Spartan Phalanx when sighted by the enemy. It is questionable whether there will be another fighting force on par with the Spartans because of their sheer tenacity and ferociousness in battle. But the male fighting force was not the only thing unique about Spartan culture, as the women of the polis were just as important. The explicit role of the Spartan women was to bear children who could become future warriors to defend their nation among the Spartan Peers. They were responsible for the upbringing of the child until he was sent off to the barracks for the beginning of his military training. But the women of Sparta had far greater influence over their nation than often perceived. The priorities of Spartan culture from Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield are clear: men defend the nation in times of war and women are expected to carry on their lineage. The principal business of a woman was to produce children who would be strong enough for the rigors of the barracks and military life. 1 Those who could not, such as Lady Arete who failed to bring a son to Dienekes, were haunted by the fact that there would be no man to carry on the family name. Sparta, like many other nations of Hellenes, placed tremendous pressure on its women to produce males. However, Spartan women also provided an important social strength to their society. While Spartan women faced many of the same demands as other women of the time, they also participated in the military society. “Spartan women surpass for beauty all others in Hellas, and not the least of their charms is that they make so little play upon it.” 2 The women 1 Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire (New York: Bantam Books, 1999), pp. 166. 2
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gates of fire - Warrior Spirit: The Women of Sparta Michael...

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