previous next
[1269b] [1] even when at war with one another, in no instance ally themselves with the rebels, because as they themselves also possess a serf class this would not be for their interest; whereas the Laconians were entirely surrounded by hostile neighbors, Argives, Messenians and Arcadians. For with the Thessalians too the serf risings originally began because they were still at war with their neighbors, the Achaeans, Perraebi and Magnesians. Also, apart from other drawbacks, the mere necessity of policing a serf class is an irksome burden—the problem of how intercourse with them is to be carried on: if allowed freedom they grow insolent and claim equal rights with their masters, and if made to live a hard life they plot against them and hate them. It is clear therefore that those whose helot-system works out in this way do not discover the best mode of treating the problem. Again, the freedom in regard to women is detrimental both in regard to the purpose of the constitution and in regard to the happiness of the state. For just as man and wife are part of a household, it is clear that the state also is divided nearly in half into its male and female population, so that in all constitutions in which the position of the women is badly regulated one half of the state must be deemed to have been neglected in framing the law. And this has taken place in the state under consideration, [20] for the lawgiver wishing the whole city to be of strong character displays his intention clearly in relation to the men, but in the case of the women has entirely neglected the matter; for they live dissolutely1 in respect of every sort of dissoluteness, and luxuriously. So that the inevitable result is that in a state thus constituted wealth is held in honor, especially if it is the case that the people are under the sway of their women, as most of the military and warlike races are, except the Celts and such other races as have openly held in honor passionate friendship between males. For it appears that the original teller of the legend had good reason for uniting Ares with Aphrodite, for all men of martial spirit appear to be attracted to the companionship either of male associates or of women. Hence this characteristic existed among the Spartans, and in the time of their empire many things were controlled by the women; yet what difference does it make whether the women rule or the rulers are ruled by the women? The result is the same. And although bravery is of service for none of the regular duties of life, but if at all, in war, even in this respect the Spartans' women were most harmful; and they showed this at the time of the Theban invasion,2 for they rendered no useful service, as the women do in other states, while they caused more confusion than the enemy. It is true therefore that at the outset the freedom allowed to women at Sparta seems to have come about with good reason,

1 The textual emendation giving ‘live without restraint’ is probably correct.

2 Under Epaminondas, 369 B.C.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1957)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
369 BC (1)
hide References (5 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: