• Ancient Greek Women place was at home, they had no place at the games
  • Two classes of women in ancient Greek culture: Wife & a Hetaira (companion)
  • Hetairai:  more sophisticated, cultured (however not fit for the home)
  • Nude women are found, but not in athletic contexts (often in beauty shop [Kale: beautiful] or at most swimming)
  • Girls of marriageable age cannot attend the Olympic Games; except for priestess
  • Law: any women discovered at the Olympia were thrown off the cliff of mountain Typaion
  • NO woman had been caught at Olympia; except for Kallipateira: windowed, disguised as a male trainer and took her son to compete -> her son won, she was discovered; however she was not killed due to her father,  brother, nephews, and sons all being Olympia victors
  • NOTE: since that event, all trainers have to attend in the nude
  • Atalanta: a girl trained by her father in hunting, wrestling, and running; first to hit Kalydonian boar; shown at funeral games of Pelias, she wrestled Peleus. [she is easily distinguished by white paint and loincloth
  • Later she also wore a cap & pair of shorts (with figure or felin)
  • STORY: Atalanta didn’t want to marry; had many suitors -> she declared if someone could beat her in a footrace..she would marry them; if not…she’d kill them
  • A young man, prayed to Aphrodite, she gave him three golden apples, which he threw along the tract to distract her (moral: despise her female abilities, she was still at a heart a frivolous female)
  • Kyniska of Sparta: first women to win Olympia event (4-horse race)
  • Agesilaus (King of Sparta): tired of hearing people brag, encouraged his sister to compete in the horse race.
  • Other women also won the horse race but only reinforced that point that women were not a part of real athletics
  • Further support came for this notion, as women only competed: beauty contests, sobriety, housekeeping
  • Record of women winning men’s events: Hermesianax at Delphi: Tryphosa, winner of Pythian Games and Isthmian (stadion winner), Hedea who won chariot race in armor at Isthmian Games, and stadion at Nemean Games
  • Spartan women were expected to be highly athletic [Lykourgos, Legendary Spartan Law Giver proclaimed: “Women are to bare children and do the same amount of bodybuilding as men”; established footraces, strength competitions to ensure both genders were strong
  • Women: competed in the nude as virgins & participate in arête; “only Spartan women give birth to real men”
  • Competitions were held for girls & women in Sparta and other Greek areas
  • Games of Hera at Olympia: every 4 years, 16 women at Olympia [2 from each of the 8 tribes of Elis]; weave a peplos (robe) for Hera. Also a footrace for virgins, 3 categories based on age; they ran with:
  • 1) hair hung loose
  • 2) chiton; tunic -> tunic reaches above the knee
  • 3) right shoulder is bare as far as the breast
  • Run the Olympic stadium; their track is 1/6th of the stadium
  • Winners: got a crown of olive and portion of cow scarified to Hera; also the right to make a statue in their name
  • Women who competed were sponsored by other women
  • Found by Hera; wife of Pelpos [took place in the 5th century]
  • Took place at a different time than men’s Olympic Games (however had the same athlete admission and judging process as the men did to enter the Altis) women, therefore, marked from Elis and took the oath
  • 16 women, female Hellanodikai, stayed in a special building at agora of Elis
  • At Olympia; Hero Shrine for Hippodameia (with her bones) was supposedly present
  • “Doric Women” stereotyped as being of loose morals
  • Sparta women known as phianomerides (thigh showers); running and wrestling with men
  • Aristophane’s Lysistrata: during the Spartan- Athenian war, the Athenian women united under the leadership of Lysistara -> proclaim to men, no more housekeeping, babysitting, or lovemaking until the war ENDS. Spartan women join the cause. [Spartan women are portrayed as more athletic than Athenian women]
  • Spartan women do bibasis: jumping into the air as many times as they could and kicking their backside with the heels of their feet
  • Athenian women were often not seen as athletes
  • Brauron (eastern shore of Attika [ATHENS], contains famous sanctuary to Artemis): has a courtyard, dining room, and palaestra (wrestling school)
  • Have very little details about the actual festival/ events; but much pottery, portraying women participating in athletic competitions in the nude
  • Athenians were not good sources of Spartan athletics; especially women; the evidence on women athletics is very low in comparison to other aspects of Greek culture.
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Women in Ancient Greek Sport," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2021, https://schoolworkhelper.net/women-in-ancient-greek-sport/.
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