previous next


παρθενίαι). A word meaning literally “children of unmarried women,” but usually applied to a distinct class of citizens at Sparta after the First Messenian War. The tradition goes that after the Messenian War had lasted a number of years, the Spartan women sent an embassy to the camp to the effect that they were weary of so long an abstention from the pleasures of married life, and representing also that the State would suffer if the increase of population should cease. Their husbands, who had taken an oath not to return home until the Messenians were conquered, sent back all the young men who were in camp with permission to cohabit with the maidens at Sparta. The children thus begotten were called παρθενίαι; and after the return of the army from the war, these were not treated as citizens, and therefore joined the Helots for a war against the ruling class. This, however, appearing impracticable, they migrated to Italy, where they founded the colony of Tarentum. (See Ephorus ap. Strabo, vi. p. 279, and cf. the article Epeunacti.) Hesychius, on the other hand, says that the Partheniae were the children of Spartan citizens and female slaves; and Antiochus that they were the sons of those Spartans who took no part in the Messenian War, and who were in consequence degraded to the position of Helots. See Grote, Hist. of Greece, i. p. 332; iii. p. 519.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: