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women in herodotus

             Men dominate Herodotus" The Histories, however, women are mentioned from time to time, and the reader can grasp many of their daily activities and responsibilities. As depicted by Herodotus, most women in the ancient world were of little importance. Most women had little say in family decisions and political and economic affairs. The only women he treats as autonomous, self-directed historical characters are Spartan women. Herodotus is more deferential in his descriptions of Spartan women, giving the reader a sense of their importance to the Spartan community.
             In The Histories, Spartan women act as mothers, daughters, wives and queens and they participate in the political and social arenas. One of the most notable of Spartan women was Gorgo. She was the daughter of Cleomenes and wife of Leonidas. The reader can tell that Gorgo, though just a small child, is intelligent and diplomatic, possessing a keen ability to assess one's character (Herodotus 5.51). Aristagoras asked the King to send away the child so they could speak, but: "Cleomenes told him to say what he wished and not to mind the child." (5.51) The mere fact that a young girl was allowed to overhear and participate in an important conversation of the King is unparalleled in The Histories. When Aristagoras continued to raise his offer for Cleomenes" support in the war, Gorgo speaks out to her father: "Father, you had better go away, or the stranger will corrupt you." Aristagoras left for good, and Cleomenes appreciated his daughter's warning. Gorgo's powerful statement stopped the Spartans from participating with Aristagoras in Ionia. .
             Gorgo's next appearance was more impressive. In book seven of The Histories, Demaratos, an exile from Sparta, tries to pass on the news of Xerxes" invasion of Sparta (7.239). He sends a cryptic message to Sparta to make sure it wasn't noticed on its way.

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