Constructions of Spartan masculinity in Classical Athenian prose

Heydon, Kendell A. (2018) Constructions of Spartan masculinity in Classical Athenian prose. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Employing a methodological approach informed by sociological social constructionist theories of gender, I endeavour to explore representations of Spartan masculinity in the works of Xenophon Thucydides and Plato, to gain better understanding of portrayals and usages of ideologies of Spartan masculinity in Classical Athenian philosophical and historical works. I structure my project by focusing on seven categories which constructionists believe to be important to the formation of masculinity. My aim is to demonstrate the utility of this methodological framework for exploring historical masculinities and to contend that there is no singular representation of Spartan masculinity within Classical Athenian prose. Rather, representations of Spartan masculinity are complex and multifaceted, with authors constructing and employing different ideologies of Spartan masculinity situationally and for a variety of purposes, both internal and external to the texts.

In chapter one, I examine Xenophon’s Spartan Constitution, demonstrating the role of masculine ideals in the “Lycurgan” system and suggesting Xenophon depicts Spartan masculinity as highly competitive and performative in nature. In chapter two, I examine Plato’s Laws and Republic, to demonstrate that Plato portrays Spartan masculine ideals as playing a prominent role in the imbalanced development of Spartan character. I also analyse Plato’s depiction of the auxiliary guardians to suggest that problematic elements he associates with Spartan men are unresolved, even within his idealised polis. In chapter three, I explore Thucydides’ History. I elucidate the role of masculine ideals in characterisations of Spartan individuals and the Spartan polis and argue that characters’ redefinition of Spartan masculine ideals is portrayed as politically useful in the text. Finally, in chapter four, I examine Xenophon’s historical works, focusing primarily on the Hellenica. I explore a number of episodes to demonstrate characters’ employment of masculine ideals for political purposes, to demonstrate correspondences between masculine ideals identified in the Lac. and Xenophon’s characterisations of Spartan individuals in the Hellenica and argue that hegemonic masculinity is observable in depictions of of Spartan societal processes and mechanisms.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hodkinson, Stephen
Buckland, Carl
Keywords: Classics, Sparta, Gender, Masculinity, Sociology, Social Constructionism, Xenophon, Thucydides, Plato
Subjects: H Social sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
P Language and literature > PA Classical philology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 52181
Depositing User: Heydon, Kendell
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2018 14:32
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 16:46

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