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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays 2 0 Browse Search
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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, Sappho. (search)
wife mistress, not in subserviency, but after the English peasant fashion; Spartan mothers preserved a power over their adult sons such as was nowhere else seen; the dignity of maidenhood was celebrated in public songs, called Parthenia, which were peculiar to Sparta; and the women took so free a part in the conversation, that Socrates, in a half-sarcastic passage in the Protagoras, compares their quickness of wit to that of the men. The best authority in regard to the Spartan women is K. O. Muller's Dorier, Book IV. c. IV., also Book V. c. VIII. 5 (Eng. tr. Vol. II. pp. 290--300; also p. 311). For his view of the women of Lesbos, see his Literature of Greece (Eng. tr.), c. XIII. The Spartan women, in short, were fiee, though ignorant, and this freedom the Athenians thought bad enough. But when the Aeolians of Lesbos carried the equality a step further, and to freedom added culture, the Athenians found it intolerable. Such an innovation was equivalent to setting up the Protestan