Ancient Sparta inspires many films and books. Highly disciplined and trained to be warriors from a young age, Spartans were one of the most feared military forces in the Greek world. At the height of Sparta’s power, it was commonly accepted that “one Spartan was worth several men of any other state.”
Between the 6th and 4th centuries BC, at the height of Sparta’s power, they were one of the most feared military forces in the Greek world. Sparta was an Ancient Greek city located on the Evrotas River in Laconia, surrounded by mountains.
Sparta was made up of three types of people – those who paid taxes, served in the Sparta army, and were protected by the laws of Sparta (Homoioi), free, non-citizens who worked in the trades in the region surrounding Sparta (Perioeci), and those who were from places that had been conquered by Sparta’s army and had no rights under Sparta law (Helots). The biggest problem about Sparta, from a historical point of view at least, is that they left very few written records, and didn’t build grand architecture that we could then analyze.
Lycurgus – The Legendary Lawgiver Of Sparta
Athens had its Solon, the law-giver, and Sparta, its Lycurgus — at least that’s what we like to believe. By the middle of the 4th century bc, it was generally accepted that Lycurgus had belonged to the Eurypontid house and had been regent for the Eurypontid king Charillus. Lycurgus lived at some time between 800 BC to 630 BC, and he was a leader of the military Greek city-state of Sparta, situated in the southern part of Greece, at about 730BC, with the exact date a matter of controversy amongst historians.
The Spartans were unique in Greece as they made a point of not keeping historical records or issuing written laws.
Spartans Brutal Training Begins At Age 7
First Female Olympic Champion Was Spartan Woman
Cynisca is someone more people should know about. She was the first woman to win at the Olympic games. Cynisca (also known as Kyneska) was not just a female athlete; she was a princess of Sparta. However, her passions were not typical for the princesses we imagine. She was most excited when she could work with horses.
Cynisca was born around 440 BC in the Greek city of Sparta, daughter of King Archidamus II, and sister of the future king Agesilaus II. Her name meant ‘female puppy’, a variation of her grandfather’s name, perhaps referring to the female bloodhounds renowned for tracing game by scent. Her chariot won in the four-horse chariot race, not once but twice, in the 96th and 97th Olympiads, (396 B.C. and 392 B.C. respectively). Not only did Kyniska push the envelope by being a woman to participate in the events, she was honored with the same pomp and circumstance as all other Olympians were.
Sparta Had Two Kings
Two kings ruled the city, but a 28-member ‘council of elders’ limited their powers. These kings working in partnership would share their duties, and by the nature of the dual leadership would keep the other king honest. Both kings would ensure that one king would not abuse or obtain to much power, that they could cause hard to the state.
The duties of the kings were mainly religious, judicial and military. They were the chief priests of the state, and had to perform certain sacrifices and to maintain communication with the Delphian sanctuary, which always exercised great authority in Spartan politia.
Shortly After Birth, Spartan Babies Were Bathed In Wine
When a Spartan boy was born, he was bathed in wine because the tribe believed it would make him strong. The baby would then be examined by a group of elders, and if he did not pass the examination, would be left to either die of exposure or be rescued by strangers.
After Getting Married Spartans Were Not Sllowed To Live With Their Wives Until They Were At Least 30 Years Old
Battle of Thermopylae
At Thermopylae in the late summer of 480 the Spartan king Leonidas held out for three days with a mere 300 hoplites against thousands upon thousands of the best of the Great King’s troops. It has also been the site of several battles in antiquity besides this most famous one.
The battle of Thermopylae was the first between the Persians and Greeks during the Persian invasion of 480-479 BC.
A victory for the Persian Empire, the battle cost Leonidas his life but paved the way for an eventual Greek victory over the invaders. This, in turn, gave birth to the legend of Leonidas.
The Ancient Spartans Had A Strict Moral Code
The Women Of Sparta
Spartan women were strong, both physically and mentally. The Spartan woman was educated, with knowledge of the arts, music, war, philosophy and much more, she was allowed rights that no other woman of Greece was afforded. While the Spartan woman was much more free than Greek women, she still had a regiment to conform too, just as a Spartan man did.
Spartan girls did not marry until they were eighteen.