Abstract: Go Spartans: Girls’ Athletics in Ancient Greece

Lecturer: Jenifer Neils

Given the paucity of imagery of Sparta’s legendary beautiful women, this lecture posits some Attic red-figure vase paintings as possible representations of young Laconian females as seen from an Athenian perspective.  Beginning with athletics where Spartan girls are most readily identifiable, this article goes on to consider rare images of girls racing chariots, drinking wine, going to school and being courted by older women.  Ranging in date from the late sixth to the end of the fifth century B.C., these paintings illustrate the Athenians’ fascination with their Greek rivals, as evidenced also by the character of Lampito in Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata.

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Elspeth Dusinberre (A.B. summa cum laude Harvard 1991, Ph.D. Michigan 1997) is interested in cultural interactions in Anatolia, particularly in the ways in which the Achaemenid Empire... Read More

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