Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sparta's Secret Weapon: Women



Sparta's power is usually attributed to the incomparable Spartan army -- and sometimes the factors that contributed to the creation of that army: Sparta's education system, it's unique constitution, it's laws, discipline and ethos. The importance of Spartan women is almost wholly overlooked. 

Yet the importance of women to any economy has been increasingly recognized and acknowledged over the last quarter century.  Raising female literacy has become an important goal of international aid organizations, because no factor is more important in decreasing both infant mortality and birthrates than female literacy.  Indeed, various studies demonstrate a strong inverse relationship between levels of female education and poverty. Female literacy is often used as measure of development when comparing nations and regions. More recently, development and aid programs have shifted their focus from grants to governments and male dominated organizations to micro-credits to women.

When applied to Ancient Greece, of course, the modern approach appears fatally flawed. No one can seriously argue that Athens was “under-developed” or that it was poor – or can they? After all, based on factors such as literacy, infant mortality, and longevity not to mention per capita income and income distribution, Athens would certainly be rated an undeveloped or “less developed” country today!

Yet by ancient measures of wealth, Athens was comparatively well off – even if, as Thucydides argued, the monuments it built with tribute money sent from its subject cities created the impression of a city twice as rich and powerful as it “really” was.  On this point, however, I take issue with Thucydides: any city that can force other cities to pay for a monumental building program in a distant metropolis deserves to be seen as a great power. (EU take note! The Greeks ares still doing it!) Thucydides was, however, trying to make another point: that monuments alone do not constitute power – a point he underlined by saying later generations would underestimate Spartan power if they judged it on the basis of its monuments.
Read More: http://spartareconsidered.blogspot.com/2016/10/spartas-secret-weapon-women.html?m=0

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