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a change of owners; and such appeals were never discountenanced or neglected by the magistrates.
The Milesian women being at one period much addicted to suicide, a law was passed that all who died by their own hands should be exposed to the public; and this effectually prevented an evil, which no other means had been able to prevent.
The customs of Sparta differed in many respects from the rest of Greece. When a match was decided upon, the mother, or nurse of the bride, or some other woman who presided over the arrangements, shaved the girl's hair, dressed her in masculine attire, and left her alone in an apartment at evening. The lover, in his every-day clothes, sought an opportunity to enter by stealth, but took care to return to his own abode before daylight, that his absence might not be detected by his companions. In this manner only did custom allow them to visit their wives, until they became mothers. Lycurgus passed a law forbidding any dowry to be given to daughters, in order that marriage might take place from motives of affection only. Marriage was much encouraged in every part of Greece, and peculiarly so in Sparta. The age at which both sexes might marry was prescribed by law, and any man who lived without a wife beyond the limited time was liable to severe penalties. Once every winter, they were compelled to run round the forum without clothing, and sing a certain song, the words of which exposed them to ridicule; they were not aliowed to be present at the exercises where beautiful young maidens contended; on a certain
festival, the women were allowed to drag them round an altar, beating them with their fists; and young people were not required to treat them with the same degree of respect that belonged to fathers of families.
Polygamy was not allowed, and divorces were extremely rare ; but the laws encouraged husbands to lend their wives when they thought proper. Lycurgus reversed the Athenian custom, and allowed bro ther and sister of the same mother to marry, while he forbade it if they both had the same father. In Sparta there was a very ancient statue, called Venus Juno, to which mothers offered sacrifice on the occasion of a daughter's marriage.
Damsels appeared abroad unveiled, but married women covered their faces. Charilus, being asked the reason of this practice, replied, “ Girls wish to obtain husbands, and wives aiin only at keeping those they already have.” Lycurgus ordered that maidens should exercise themselves with running, wrestling, throwing quoits, and casting darts, with the view of making them healthy and vigorous; and for fear they might have too much fastidiousness and refinement, he ordered them to appear on these occasions without clothing. All the magistrates and young men assembled to witness their performances, a part of which were composed of dances and songs. These songs consisted of eulogiums upon such men as had distinguished themselves by bravery, and satirical allusions to those who had been cowardly or effeminate; and as they were sung in hearing of the senate and people, no inconsiderable degree of pride or shame was excited in those who were the subjects of them.
The Spartans bathed new-born infants in wine, from the idea that vigorous children would be strengthened by it, while those who were weakly would either faint, or fall into convulsions. Fathers were not allowed to educate and nourish their own children, if they were desirous to do so. All infants, being considered the property of the commonwealth, were brought to the magistrates to be examined. If vigorous and well formed, a certain portion of land was allotted for their maintenance; but if they appeared sickly or deformed, they were thrown into a deep cavern and left to perish.
The Spartan nurses were so celebrated, that they were eagerly sought for by people of other countries. They never used swaddling bands, and religiously observed the ceremony of laying infants upon bucklers, as soon as they were born. They taught children to eat any kind of food, or to endure the privation of it for a long time; not to be afraid when left alone, or in the dark; to be ashamed of crying, and proud to take care of themselves.
The Spartans mourned for deceased relations with great composure and moderation; though when a king died, it was customary for men, women, and slaves, to meet together in great numbers, and tear the flesh from their foreheads with sharp instruments. Indeed, in all things they endeavored to make their own interest and feelings subordinate to the public good. When news came of the disastrous overthrow
of the Lacedaemonian army at Leuctra, those matrons who expected to receive their sons alive from the battle, were silent and melancholy; while those who received an account that their children were slain in battle, went to the temples to offer thanksgivings, and congratulated each other with every demonstration of joy.
The Lacedæmonians usually carried bodies to the grave on bucklers ; hence the command of the Spartan mother to her son, “either to bring his buckler back from the wars, or be brought upon it.”
Leonidas, “ You Spartans are the only women that govern men.” “Because we are the only women who give birth to men,” she replied. This answer was in allusion to their own strength and vigor, and to the pains they took to make their boys bold and hardy.
The Lacedæmonian women seem to have had a share in all the concerns of the commonwealth ; and during the early portions of their history they appear to have been well worthy of the respect paid to them. When a new senator was chosen, he was crowned with a garland, and the women assembled to sing his domestic virtues and his warlike courage. At the public feast given in honor of his election, he called the female relative for whom he had the greatest esteem and gave her a portion, saying, “ That which I received as a mark of honor, I give to you.” When Cleomenes, king of Sparta, was beset with powerful enemies, the king of Egypt agreed to fur
nish him with succors, provided he would send his mother and his children as hostages. Filial respect and tenderness made the prince extremely unwilling to name this requisition. His mother, perceiving that he made an effort to conceal something from her, persuaded her friends to tell her what it was. As soon as she heard it, she laughed outright, and said, “Was this the thing you so long hesitated to communicate ? Put us on board a ship, and send this old carcase of mine wherever you think it may be of the most use to Sparta, before age renders it good for nothing, and sinks it into the grave.” When every thing was ready for departure, she, being alone with her son, saw that he struggled hard with emotion. She threw her arms around him, and said, “ King of the Lacedæmonians, be careful that we do nothing unworthy of Sparta ! This alone is in our power; the event belongs to the gods.”
When Cleombrotus rebelled against his wife's father, in spite of her entreaties, and usurped the kingdom, Chelonis left her husband and followed the fallen fortunes of her parent ; but when the tide turned, and Cleombrotus was in disgrace and danger, she joined her husband as a suppliant for royal mercy, and was found sitting by him, with the utmost tenderness, with her two children at her feet. She as. sured her father that if his submission and her tears could not save his life, she would die before him. The king, softened by her entreaties, changed the intended sentence of death into exile, and begged his daughter to remain with a father who loved her so