Women of Sparta

womenofsparta1280Gorgo, was small for her age, but almost always bested the other women her age in games of combat. Although many of the women participated nude in the games, sword fighting was not one that was popular to be exposed in. They would not fight to the death of course. Only a prick enough to draw a drop of blood was required to win. In fact a cut would get you disqualified. All were required to wear head gear of some type, but other armor was left up to each girl. Gorgo wore a bra of metal after being cut on her left breast. It was not a thing she wanted to leave up to the skill of her opponent. Disqualified or not, it still hurt like hell, and now she’d have a scar for life.

Her opponent today was Helen, who was tall for her age but gangly and a bit uncoordinated. Many considered her beautiful to the eye, but that was not the most prized asset for a future bride. Strength, intelligence and the ability to bear many children was. These are what would assure her of a good marriage later in life. Men could appreciate the skill and intelligence a sword fight took to win, over the speed of the races or the throwing of a discus. Gorgos was good at archery, but sword fighting was still her favorite sport. Reading was her favorite educational pursuit. Because as she read more, the more intelligent she got.

The city-state of Sparta was unlike the rest of Greece and for the most part the rest of the world. Women in Sparta not only could receive public education, they were required to. Also they could possess land, wealth, and much political influence, although only men could hold office. By 600 B.C. the Spartans had conquered the Peloponnesians who were also called Herlots. They became the slave labor of the Spartans even though they outnumbered them eight to one. Thus every Spartan must have the strength and skill to slay seven or eight Herlots, regardless of whether it was a man or woman. The women managed the land and wealth for each family, and were also the ones who physically protected it while the men were away at war. Boys left the home at the age of seven to be raised in state barracks as soldiers.

Unlike other Greek city-states and most other countries, girls were not married off until they reached the age of eighteen, and even then, not to men much older than them. With a constant need for renewing the number of the Spartans, most women’s husbands were only five to seven years older than them. Gorgo was thankful she was born a Spartan. She could not imagine life without learning, competing in sports, and the ability to own things. In fact the first woman to ever win an olympic event was a woman from Sparta. She competed in the chariot races.

Gorgo studied Helen’s movements in the fight. She knew the cow could never beat her in this contest. Any girl who opposed her, she considered a cow. Even though some said this one was favored by Aphrodite. She looked at Helen’s bracelets and realized they weren’t bracers. They were only gem encrusted jewelry. The fearsome looking tri-blade sword, Helen probably chose because of the large ruby set in its base. It was too heavy for her. As Helen rose it above her head to bring down upon Gorgo, her wrist could not support the weight of the blade, and it fell behind her shoulder.

Gorgo quickly lunged in to cut the left strap of Helen’s dress, so that her breast was exposed. A deafening roar swelled out of the men in the crowd. Gorgo smiled and decided to cut the other strap before ending the contest. It is a shame her dress has a belt or I’d leave her standing totally naked and shamed, thought Gorgo. No one will want this weak fool when I get done she thought.

As fate would have it, there were many suitors for Helen. They included such famous people as Odysseus, Ajax the Great, Patroclus, Idomeneus, Agamemnon and Menelaus, the King of Sparta. Who knew that she had partially disrobed Helen of Troy for the crowd.