The rest of the Ancient Greeks found the Spartan system to be unusual and flawed, attributing it to the comparatively
large roll that woman played in the society. One of the best examples of this
is The Politics of Aristotle, written by Aristotle in 350 BCE. In Book two it assess his views as to why Spartan Society has been in decline, and he seems to heap much
scorn on the cities women. The women in Sparta played an active and important roll in the every
day affairs of the Spartan city state. This is in contrast to Athens and other Ancient Greek city states where women found their roll in society relegated
a husband and wife being each a part of every family, the state may be considered as about equally divided into men and women; and,
therefore, in those states in which the condition of the women is bad, half
the city may be regarded as having no laws. And this is what has actually
happened at Sparta;
the legislator wanted to make the whole state hardy and temperate, and he has carried out his intention in the case of the men, but
he has neglected the women, who live in every sort of intemperance and
luxury. The consequence is that in such a state wealth is too highly valued,
especially if the citizen fall under the dominion of their wives, after the
manner of most warlike races, except the Celts and a few others who openly
approve of male loves.” (Jowett,
to Aristotle, as translated by Benjamin Jowett, any society that was female dominated was seen as lacking law and order. It was then evidently seen as important by the Athenian Aristotle to keep women in
the house in the roll that Athenians believed they should play. Aristotle also
criticizes the Spartans for allowing women to own property; this is seen as causing the society to become far too greedy. The implication here is that Sparta
is weak because its men are seen as being dominated to a certain extent by the women.
This was largely due to the fact that by the 3rd century BCE women held most of the land in Sparta, while during Aristotle’s time they held 40% or two fifths. (Blundell, 1995
The writings of Aristotle
highlight once more the contrast between the roll of women in every day society in Sparta and
what difference does it make whether women rule or the rulers are ruled by women?
The result is the same. Even in regard to courage, which is of no use
in daily life, and is needed only in war, the influence of the Lacedaemonian
women has been most mischievous.
The evil showed itself in the Theban invasion, when, unlike the women other cities, they were utterly useless
and caused more confusion than the enemy.” (Jowett, 2006)
Once again we see that the text highlights the perception of Spartan woman in other city states including Athens. This in itself
gives a hint of the status of women in Athens and the other
city states. Above they have been blamed for a military defeat; it was their
fault as far as the rest of the Greeks were concerned because of the roll they were playing in every day Spartan society. It is obvious that the Athenians did not feel that women should play such an important
roll in the running of the city state.