A Secondary Source Review of Sarah B. Pomeroy’s “Spartan Women”
Pomeroy was born in the likes of New York City on March 13, 1938. Her mother was a teacher and her father was, in fact, a businessman; both, of course, were hail from Eastern European descent or ancestry if you will. She had attended the likes of Birch Wathen School. Pomeroy credits visiting museums as a mere child, it was there we see that spark of these experiences that had led her towards that of investigating, and writing, that had, of course, encouraged her to purpose a career as a historian.
Speaking of school, Pomeroy had attended Barnard College, where she had earned herself a bachelor’s degree in the year of 1857. She then attended Columbia University for graduate school, earning a master’s degree in 1959 and a Ph.D. in 1961 (Pomeroy, Sarah B. (1938–) – Ancient History n.d.). Upon graduating from Columbia University, she later took a job as an instructor at the University of Texas at Austin; she taught nothing but the classics for nearly two years (1961 to 1962).
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In the years of 1967 to the year of 1968, she taught at Hunter College and had also taught classics as there as well. In the year of 1968, she had earned the rank of professor of classics not only at the Hunter College but as well as the Graduate Center at the City University. Pomeroy had authored and edited for six books as well as nearly the like of thirty articles as well. Speaking of her work she has written books and publications such as the co – authored Women in the Classical World: Image and Text, which was a 1995 selection of that of the History Book Club, her first book Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity, published in the year of 1975 and then reissued in 1994, and translated in several languages such as Italian, German, and Spanish.
In addition to writing all of those published works, she had also written The Family in Classical and Hellenistic Greece and Ancient Greece, thus of course under the likes of a contract with the Oxford University Press. In the year of 1995, Dr, Pomeroy was a recipient of a City University President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship. Henceforth, she has gone on to receive as well as grants, awards, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and lastly but most certainly not least the American Numismatic Society as well. She has given pretty much all of her life thus making a great deal of service to her profession, she literally never quits and pretty much is still going as we speak.
In Pomeroy’s book Spartan Women, Chapter 6 to be exact, which is titled Women and Religion, she talks about several different cults such as Athena, Helen, Artemis Orthia, Hera, Aphrodite, as among many other cults. These cults are not to be mistaken with the cults that we think of today as the cults that brainwash people, these said cults where of the high priestess and that the people of Sparta had worship as if they were a mere goddess or simply put it was their religion practices if you will.
Artemis Orthia or simply just Orthia for short, she was worshipped all throughout Greece as a divine dignity whom brought fertility to not only women but as well as men and including animals as well. Orthia even protected mothers and children, also. The women and girls of all ages danced lewd dances in honor of Artemis in order to give thanks towards Artemis or to simply put to celebrate that Artemis is the goddess of fertility. Men had also joined in as while, amongst them. During the lewd dances unto Artemis, one of these men had plucked Helen from the dance and had raped her.
Speaking of Helen, her cult was of course quite like that of Artemis Orthia in several ways. In the most obvious way was that both goddesses were concerned with nature and fertility. Just like the cult of Orthia, Helen cult had also involved music and lewd dances as well. However, the only difference is between the two is that Artemis Orthia was worshiped in several manifestations thus outside of Sparta, while Helen was merely considered that of mythological and a literary figure as well as a divine one, too.
Helen can be seen that of a religious figure that reflects the moral standards of living of that said of Spartan women. In addition, the maidens in the cult of Helen were often the first of a large group of Spartan women to become wed. This usually happened during the likes of the spring – time festival, in which the women of Sparta had anointed a plant tree with olive as they recited a sort of oath if you will before the feasts usually began. The feasts were co – ed type of feasts, thus was a common practice in Sparta all throughout Sparta.
In the cult of Hera, it was seen as a premarital rite and as well as a religion practice, participate in such races as that of any athletic activity of any kind. The association between the races and marriage and why it nearly seems as if one was to run away from marriage was often seen as a simply as a mere qualifying test. Those that won or should excellent strength to win the right to become wed. Speaking of being wed to another individual, in the cult of Hera was quite ahead of her or its own time. On the count of man and women dressed up as the opposite sex on their wedding night; transvestism, may have played a major role in preceding that of marriage.
Moreover, in the cult that is Athena, we see that the women started to have a sort of back bone. For Athena was seen as a protector and that one of homage or so to speak, because of this high priestess did not fail to pay their respects to other divinities in the Greek ancient history. According to a myth of a son, Pausanias, to a Spartan woman named, Theano; Pausanias had sought asylum in the temple of Athena. Instead of begging for her traitor son’s life, she simply placed a brick upon the front door’s step. It is here that we see that to the Spartan women and especially in their religion practices, honor was clearly everything to them; if their offspring had brought “dishonor” upon their household it was clearly off with there head thus is of course just like the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland.
Lastly, but certainly not least in our finally example of the high priestess or cults if you will be that of Aphrodite. Aphrodite was a warrior goddess whom was worshiped in several different ways in guise manner. Spartan women had put chains upon the statue of Aphrodite, to show to the world that they were faithfully to their husbands. Here we can assume that the phrase that “when one such person has a significant other, they are cuffed or so to speak,” comes into play and is passed on throughout the generations thereafter. Like we have learned in the beginning, Aphrodite was a great warrior, thus of course instilled into every Spartan women; this can be seen when all of the men were away for a war against the Messenians, some of these so called “Messenians” had invaded Sparta. The women of Sparta had put on armor and step up to the plate and did what literally what had to be done, they kicked some Messenians booty.
Upon return from war, the men mistook the women for the enemy and started to attack the women. The women undressed, the Spartan men recognized them, and an orgy ensued (Pomeroy 2002). This story can be related back a tale that Herodotus, whom had made a mere connection of to the of the Spartan women, their fathers had imprisoned their husbands with intentions to kill them. In fear of what was to come the women had went to the prison or jail if you will, had exchanged their clothes for their husbands’ clothes. They changed into their husbands’ clothes, and vise versa the same thing is thus seen with the likes of the men as well, upon doing such things the men walked away unharmed.
Speaking of sharing things like clothes, the Spartan men and women literally nothing was of limits to them for they had a polygamy type of relationships. This can be very well be seen in several different ways. For instance, one such way is in the house of Tyndareus, whom married Leda and their marriage was that of a husband – doubling or even wife – sharing arrangement, with that of Zeus as the uninvited impregnator. This cause a lot of trouble because the other guy that had essential shared your wife with you could potentially get your wife pregnant and thus they share a special bond forever more, which is seen in the latter here.
Speaking of men and marriage to women, they hardly ever choose that of a younger bride, even though she was a virgin. Spartan men saw virgins as that of the plague or so to speak considering they do not know whether they could produce offspring or not. This can also be seen in the sole cause that it was a rare sight to see, that an older man or just a man in general marry someone that of his below his own age.
The cause of the latter they had the urge to go forth towards that of the older woman even if she had a family already, for she had already the ability to conceive a child. Thus, meant that children could be that of heirs to their livelihood. Men of course raped several women which was merely seen as the man “calming” their women and the women went right a long with it. Being raped was literally apart of all of the Spartans women religions that were once again devoted to the high priestesses.
In conclusion, we have learned a great deal about that of the Spartan women and their religious practices. It is quite bizarre and clearly of their time. We have women and men for that matter, dressing up in the other one’s clothes multiple times throughout this chapter. For it was seen as a wedding night ritual, before they had coitus or even to save that of their loved ones from their crazily or perhaps mental insane fathers.
We can also clearly see that a polygamous relationship dates all the way back into the likes of the ancient world, including that of Sparta. It also went both ways to were as one’s marriage could share their wife or their husband with the household next to them. Rape, which a religious practice that was surprisingly accept for the most part. In today’s time, we see rape as this terrible thing that can happen to someone; yet it was how the men show dominance in calming their women.
We may look upon the religion of the Greeks and think to ourselves that it may seem like it is pretty much besmirched, however whom are we to judge the way they lived or even how they practiced their religion for that matter? In several years from now, when people look back on how we had practiced our several different religions, they will probably be thinking the same thing that so many scholars are as of today towards the likes of Spartan’s different religious practices, such as how were they okay with such things going on around them. Yet, even some may ponder upon why nobody had try to stop said things from going on around them.