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Spartan Woman Running

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Spartan Woman Running
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Text: Sophocles, Tereus
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Women In Ancient Greece: A Comparison Between Athenian and Spartan Women

running_girl.jpg
Spartan Girl Running (Swaddling, 2004)

The above is a figure of a Spartan woman from about 520 B.C. running in the Olympics. At first, women were not allowed to compete in the Olympics let alone watch them. The men would compete in games like wrestling, boxing, archery, and stick fighting and generally wore no clothes. The winner of the competition would often acquire an almost celebrity status, recieving free food, not having to pay taxes, etc. The penelty for women for even entering the Olypmic Stadium was death, as it was believed to be a place sacred to men.

However, later on the Heraea Games were implamented for the women of Sparta and became the first sanctioned sporting competition for women. The games were dedicated to the godess Hera and were held every four years. Hera was the Queen of heaven and the goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth. The competition originally only involved foot races but later came to include other sporting competitions such as the javelin throw. The women competing in the games would wear a tunic that wrapped around one shoulder and went down to their knees. They would then race around the track that would be about five-sixths the length of that which the men raced. The winner of the race would usually receive meat from a cow/ox or they would recieve a crown of wild olive.

            To many people the women of Sparta were percieved as fortunate as other women were not usually encouraged in sports. The women of Sparta would be trained in the same sports as men as they believed that strong women would produce strong warriors in the future. (Artemis, Encylopedia Mythica, 2006))

Project History 1001 A Virtual Museum Exhibit.  Noreen Emmanuel, Adam Dewar, & Kerylin Foss.