Exertions of the Spartan Women. A.M. 3658.

WAG 7712


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. There are not many surviving accounts of ancient Spartan women. However, it is known that they received a formal education which included unclothed physical exercise with their male peers, something unheard of throughout the rest of Greece. While this seems like a liberal attitude, allowing women to excercise and spend time outdoors was intended to help ensure their fitness for reproduction and that their babies would grow up to be strong warriors. Spartan women were also allowed to converse with Spartan men, again something that was disapproved of in the rest of Greece. They were not allowed to have a career or earn money but were able to own land, which was again unusual in ancient Greek society.