ANCIENT HISTORY ASSESMENT: SPARTA By Jorge T What are the main features of Spartan government in the period to 500BC? : HOW SPARTAN CONSTITUTION/GOVERNMENT CAME TO BE: Throughout the Greek world at this time, a great period of expansion and colonization took place, chiefly due to land hunger. Sparta attacked neighboring Messenia and engaged in a series of wars, reducing the population to serfdom. The success in these wars enabled Sparta to double the agricultural resources.
At some point after the Messenia wars, the Spartans undertook a drastic and revolutionary reorganization of their social and political systems. The whole state became geared to a militaristic way of life; a new system of law and order, or eunomia was established. Plutarch tells us that the new state that emerged at this point was due to the lawgiver Lycurgus who had sought the help of the Delphic oracle. He was instructed to “establish a sanctuary to Zeus and Athena; divide the people into tribes and obai; appoint the two kings and a Gerousia of 28 men.
Although there are some issues on the reliability of sources on Lycurgus, conflicting accounts had been given to most aspects of the life of Lycurgus particularly those relating to his initiatives as a lawmaker. The changes or reforms allegedly introduced Lycurgus were in the form of a great Rhetra and most probably date from the 7th century BC. Rhetra is the oral tradition of the Spartans and their laws, often based in oracles. Plutarch believed that the Great Rhetra was an statement from the Delphic oracle brought back by the lawgiver, Lycurgus, and presented to the Spartans.
The great Rhetra is significant because it was the foundation of the Spartan constitution. It appears to limit the powers of the two kings and wit was particularly concerned with the establishment of the Gerousia. DUAL KINGSHIP Sparta’s government was primarily an oligarchy, but it included democratic elements. Sparta had two kings, who came from two different families According to legend, Eurysthenes and Prokles were the twin sons of Aristodemus, a descendent of Herakles, These two were supposedly the first kings of Sparta.
Sparta’s militarism required that the kings assert strong generalship. As kingship was hereditary in Sparta – Aristotle, refers to the Spartan kings as “hereditary generals’, there was no retirement age, and the kings often brought the troops into battle and lead them into war even as elderly men. In early times both kings lead the armies to war but at some point there was a problem that resulted in a change of policy. Herodotus (7, 75) tells us that in the time of Kleomenes and Demaratus it was decided that only one king would go to war and the other shall remain in Sparta.
Spartan kings were expected to undertake many roles. He was chief priest, commander-in-chief of the army, judge and lawgiver. He also performed various social duties EPHORES In the Spartan political system, power was divided among the kings, ephors, the Gerousia and the ekklesia. There were five magistrates called ephores, once from each oba or territorial region. It is believed that the ephors were instituted as part of the political system very early in Spartan history. Their establishment has been attributed to Lycurgus.
Another possibility is that king Theompompus introduced them some time in the 7th century BC. The five Ephors were elected annually among the Spartans, although the ephors could not be re-elected, they withheld significant power and enforced control over most aspects of Spartan life. They were: * Executives of the states and chief administrators. * Advised the king and kept a check on royal powers * Decided which units would be mobilized in times of war * Received foreign ambassadors * Had charge of the training and education system- the agoge. Controlled other Spartan magistrates * Were responsible for most civil and criminal cases * Could arrest and imprison a king * Could banish foreigners from the state. “ The ephors have the power to fine anyone they wish, the right to secure payment on the spot, the right also to dismiss office holders and actually to imprison and put them on trial for their lives with the power of this degree they do not always permit elected officials to exercise their authority just as they please for a full year” Xenophon, Cited Plutarch On Sparta, p. 175 THE GEROUSIA:
The Gerousia was a body of older aged men of Sparta from noble families who were appointed because of their virtue by the Ecclesia (the Spartan Assembly) for life. The Gerousia formed aristocratic elite. Supposedly any male citizen could be considered for the role, if he was over age of sixty, but in practice, those chosen came from a small circle of wealthy aristocratic families. This council was composed of the two kings plus 28 Spartan citizens aged at least 60. The Gerousia prepared motions or “Rhetra” for the wider citizen assembly, to vote on.
The Gerousia could also veto motions passed by the Apella and was consulted by the ephors in matters of interpretation of the law. Additionally, the Gerousia filled the role of a Supreme Court. It could try murder cases — and had the power to condemn, fine, or banish. It could even try the kings for any alleged crime. As a Supreme Court, it had the ultimate say in what was or was not lawful. In effect, it was the supreme institution in the Spartan constitution, and could override any decision by any other part in the Spartan political system. THE EKKLESIA
The Spartan Assembly or Ecclesia was restricted to Spartiate men of at least 30 years of age, who met when summoned by the Ephors or Gerousia. Their place of meeting, called the skias, refers to a canopy, and possibly the name of a building. The ecclesia was a place where the citizens could speak their minds and try to influence one another in the political process. The ekklesia opened the doors for all citizens, regardless of class, to nominate and vote for magistrates, have the final decision on legislation, war and peace, and have the right to call magistrates to account after their year of office.
In the 5th century BC their numbers amounted to about 43,000 people. However, only those wealthy enough to spend much of their time away from home would have been able to participate until Pericles’ reforms in early 451-2 BCE allowing payment for jurors. The assembly was responsible for declaring war, military strategy, and electing strategoi (army leader) and other officials. It originally met once every month, but later it met three or four times per month. “This was because he wanted to make them show their opinions openly and so make them all the more enthusiastic for war.
He therefore said, Spartans those of you who think that the treaty has been broken and that the Athenians are aggressors, get up and stand on one side. Those who do not think so stand on the other side. And he pointed out to them where they were to stand, they hen rose to their feet and separated into two divisions” Thucydides, history of the Peloponesian war. 1. 87 Why did Sparta develop along different lines from other Greek city states? Sparta which had already existed in the Mycenaean Age and is seen as one of the most important cities of that period was a very different kind of city-state.
The people of Sparta were descendants of the Dorian’s. Sparta gradually transformed itself from a “normal polis” to a military system of elite warriors who subjugated the rest of the population. Unlike other greek city states Sparta set up a society of tough institutions in order to create discipline and to militarise individuals. The geographical setting of Sparta gave it a huge advantage in the isolation and protection from a lot of areas in the Peloponnese. This also stopped any outside influence affecting the Spartans warlike way of life and their unique constitutional, state run system.
After all, the laws and aspects of Spartan life set it aside from the rest. Sparta was entrusted to five men called ephores and a council of 28 elders as well as the two kings, this oligarchy was elected by males over the age of 30, in Athens it was said to be the birth place of democracy, which is broken down into divisions of upper class, male population. Fifty people were randomly chosen from each unit to form the council of 500. This council would meet to decide the laws which contrasted the Spartan way of life where only the leaders would decide the punishment.
Sparta was situated in the heart of Laconia, in the Peloponnese. It was on one of the most fertile plains in Greece. Compared with other Greek city states which comprised of a single city. Sparta was unusual in that it consisted of five villages and a large area of rural land. Four of Sparta’s villages were situated on the Eurotas River, which provided Sparta’s water supply. The fifth village, Amyclae was five kilometers south. The fertile plains were good for growing crops and grazing horses. Sparta had also taken over the rich Thyreatis plain in the east.
Having an advantage of the geographical setting in Sparta helped them advance their agricultural and farming methods, further expanding their abilities to supply their people with food and vegetation prolonging the life and expanding the population of the people. The life of the people of Sparta was not for the faint hearted, it was very strict and focused on the upbringing of warriors, a military way of life. Young boys would be taken from their homes at an early age to begin military training and young girls were forced to maintain a healthy way of life in order to produce healthy children.
This was not so in other city states in Athens for example an Athenian citizen could pursue any of several kinds of paths in life, arts sciences, carpentry etc you had a choice to serve in the army and navy, it was not compulsory. There was a drastic difference in the cultures of the two cities. Sparta became a military stronghold by emphasizing only on expanding their power and gaining control over other kingdoms. This was different in other city states, for example in Athens the focused on growing their fields of infrastructure and culture.
The Spartan belief of total loyalty to the states was the main reason for their existence. All in all the way of life in Sparta was much different and highly diverse compared to the rest of the Greek city states surrounding it. Consisting of Spartiates (the originals) helots and Periokoi Sparta is a land of serfs under the control of the Spartan state, forced to assist in helping to power this war like machine. Outline the main duties of Spartan women, the Periocoi and the Helots. SPARTAN WOMEN:
Spartan women played a very important role in their society, they were the bearers of children, the mothers of the Spartan warriors, and heiresses and managers of estates. Helot women took part in vital domestic and agricultural functions. Women’s place was in the home and her most important role was to look after it, and the children. Their fathers chose their husbands for them, and they were honored most for producing sons. The main function for upper class Spartan women was similar to that of their Athenian sisters- to be wives and mothers of citizens.
Xenophon noted that for a free woman, child bearing was the most important function, the woman was to be educated on how to be the proper mother of a son to be warrior. Children in Sparta did not belong to their families but were possessions of the state. Women did not have the right to vote but in saying this they weren’t expected to spend forty years in the army either, they also could not be elected to public office. Nevertheless, they enjoyed status and rights that were exceptional in ancient Greece and the scandal of the ancient world. The greater freedom and status of Spartan women began at birth.
Sparta’s laws required female infants and children to be given the same care and food as their brothers – in contrast to other Greek cities, where girls were more likely to be exposed rejected and killed at birth, were fed on a less nutritious diet than their brothers, and were prevented from getting exercise or even fresh air. Sparta’s male citizens were required to devote their lives to the military and other forms of public service, Sparta’s women ran the estates of their husbands. This meant that Spartan wives controlled the family wealth – and in effect, the entire Spartan agricultural economy.
A Spartan citizen was dependent on his wife’s efficiency to pay his dues to his dining club and his son’s agoge fees. This economic power is in particularly sharp contrast to cities such as Athens, where it was illegal for a woman to control more money than she needed to buy a bushel of grain. Spartan education system was controlled by the state. Spartan girls remained at home with their mothers, but were still expected to be educate and taught the basics, physical training was practiced in public, Spartan women were criticized by other Greeks as being immodest.
But the Spartans believed that training and educating Spartan women will positively affect the children to come. It is assumed that like the Spartan boys, girls were taught the basics of reading and writing. They were organized into bands for team games and choral singing. Xenephon explains that it was Lycurgus who was supposed to have introduced this practice. “How can one expect girls brought up like this to give birth to healthy babies? Lycurgus considered slave girls quite adequate to produce clothing, and thought that for free women the most important job was to bear children.
In the first place, therefore, he prescribed physical training for the female sex no less than for the male; next, just as for men, he arranged competitions of racing and strength for women, thinking that if both parents were strong their children would be more robust” Xenephon, cited in Dillon ; Garland, Ancient Greece, p 383 PERIOKOI PERIOKOI means the “dwellers around” and refers to the free inhabitants of the many communities scattered through Lakonia and Messenia and along the coastline of Sparta. Although autonomous these communities were answerable to the greater state of Sparta.
The periokoi controlled their own communities but they had no voice in government or foreign policy of Sparta. Often in texts the term “lakedamonian” refers to both Spartans and periokoi. The Athenian orator Isocrates noted that the land of Sparta had been divided among the three tribes, but that this was followed by fighting and disagreement. The victors (the nobles) kept the richest land and sent the defeated to outlying districts, they were stripped of their rights to take part in government; this is the periokoi.
They lived in perhaps 80 or 100 towns and villages, which were called poleis (the plural of polis), in the less fertile land of the hills and coasts most of the periokoi were farmers and merchants. Spartan hierarchy such as judges and governors were placed in periokoic towns. The Ephors were responsible for supervising the periokoi and had the authority to put periokoi to death without trial. Usually if a crime was committed in periokoic community it was dealt with at a local level ephors became involved only if Spartan interests were at stake.
When a Spartan king died it was expected that representatives of the periokoic communities be sent to pay their respects. However the major obligation for the periokoi was military service. Thhey did no undergo the same training system as the spartiates, yet they were expected to provide hoplites for the army. Until about 265 BC Spartans and periokoi served separately. But later on they served together; at sphacteria for example there were 170 periokoi in the contingent. As well as their expectations in participating in the army they were expected to procure metals and provide weapons that they manufactured.
The periokoi seemed to have remained faithfully to service for the Spartans throughout the history, the only hint of retaliation or disagreement can be observed after the earthquake in 460’s while the Spartans were recovering from this disaster the helots raised a revolt and Thucydides tells us that periokoi joined. HELOTS Theopompus tells that the helots were the enslaved group of people of Messenia and Lakonia who were owned by the state of Sparta. The big difference between the Spartan helots and slaves in other Greek societies was that the helots were owned by the state, not by the individual.
Although this is the case the helots still worked for individual people on their estates. The Spartans thought of themselves to be superior to the helots and showed no hesitation in exploiting them as best they can in order to maintain their lifestyle. The Spartan population was less than the helots population therefore Sparta was outnumbered by the helots to a degree that caused them considerable concern and anxiety, they took active measures to terrorise their slaves in order to prevent revolt or uproar.
Tyrtaeus compared helots to “asses exhausted under great loads: under painful necessity to bring their masters full half the fruit their ploughed land produced. ” Tyrataeus, Fragment 6, in Cartledge, Sparta and Lakonia, p 352. “… Stipulated a number of beatings every year regardless of any wrongdoing, so that they would never forget they were slaves…” Myron, cited in Cartledge, Sparta and Lakonia, p 354. The tasks of helots were mainly agricultural and were required to hand over half of their produce to the Spartiate masters.
The remaining half was theirs to use. As well as restricted property rights the helots also had a few marriage rights, but in general they had no political or legal standing in the community. When spartiates went to war the helots usually followed along and most probably acted as aides or servants. Units of helots, such as lightly armed slingers took part in skirmishes. But regardless of what deeds are performed during military service, the helots were not rewarded with citizenship.
Although in saying this, there was also a more kind policy towards the helots, as if to appease them. Helots always could dream of being emancipated, and the Spartan government did indeed sometimes liberate groups of helots. They were known as neodamodeis and had the right to serve in the Spartan army, which also meant that they shared in the spoils. Former helots are also recorded as rowers. The helots did revolt following an earthquake in 460’s BC which had Sparta swallowing their pride and asking for assistance from the Athenian military. it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Spartans did, rightly or wrongly, genuinely fear helot revolt- and with reason, in the light of the actual revolt of the mid- 460’s/ Nor is it easy to avoid the expectation that this fear would have expressed itself nearer to home and in other ways than by stipulating allied foreign aid in case of helot revolt” Talbert, ‘ The role of the helots in the class struggle at sparta’ pp. 30-1 DESCRIBE THE TRAINING EQUIPMENT AND ORGANISATION OF THE SPARTAN ARMY: TRAINING OF SPARTAN ARMY: Spartan citizens devoted most of their time in military training and believed that their army was the best in Greece.
They were respected by their enemies and their bravery was legendary. The Athenian Pericles believed that their laborious training really only produce a “state induced courage” meaning that the hard ships, blood, sweat and tears they put into their training is just “practicing to meet their sufferings” “so it is with the Spartans, fighting singly, they are as good as any, but fighting together they are the best soldiers in the world. They are free-yes-but not entirely free, For they have a master, and that master is the law, Which they fear much more than your subjects fear you.
Whatever this master commands, they do, and his command never varies; it is never to retreat in battle, however great the odds, but always to stand firm, to conquer or die. ” Herodotus, the histories, Book VII, 107. In the case of “only the strong survive” this society makes that clear putting every single Spartan male baby/child through a process of testing and training for many years. This process is called the agoge, it is all in order to become highly trained warriors. The submission into the agoge leads to participating in a rigorous education system and discipline code of Sparta.
In 669 BC the Spartans suffered a humiliating defeat by the Argives, and it may have been this humiliation that caused the military changes in Sparta. The agoge was designed to make the Spartans fierce warriors and instill in them patriotism, loyalty, obedience and comradeship. In saying this, the war machine ethos has been hammered into the Spartan society right from their birth; Spartan boys were inspected by a government official when they were born. There was no place in Spartan society for the weak and the deformed, so any child that failed this inspection was killed at Apothetae on the slopes of Mt.
Taygetus. As mentioned before the idea of Spartan procreation is to bear the healthiest babies and to train them into fearless killing machines, thus the total disregard or sympathy for a mother’s baby if it is weak or deformed. Up until the age of 7 a child was raised by his mother at home, and then the lifelong service to the state began. When first taken from his mother at age seven the boy was placed in a communal barracks with others his age in a troop or Ageles, supervised by an older boy referred to as a Eirena.
For the next five years these Spartan boys were conditioned physically and mentally. They were educated enough to count soldiers in a formation, read war sagas and sing and recite war poetry. The agoge in Sparta was a state responsibility and a government official; the paidonomos had to administer severe whippings to the disobedient. Plato believed that they were not taught by ‘persuasion but by violence’. They were given rigorous strength and endurance training and physical conditioning through endless field and track events.
They were taught wrestling, were drilled in gymnastics, running, jumping, throwing of spear and discus, taught to endure pain and hardship, hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue and lack of sleep. They were also taught the art of combat and formation “phalanx” fighting to make them lethal in battle through their ability to hold, maintain and change formation as required. Discipline was strict, with punishments if caught performing the most minor infraction, and the boys were encouraged to fight amongst themselves in order to determine who was the strongest in the group.
They were fed a weak broth, the famous “melanas zomos” (black broth) just once a day and in quantities only enough to survive. It was expected that the young starving boys would go out at night to steal or otherwise find food to compensate for the meager rations they were given. Regular patrols of boys in their final year of training tried to prevent the younger boys from stealing or finding food at night. If they were caught by the patrols, they were punished – not for stealing, but for stealing with poor skill and being caught.
The lesson learned from this was how to forage for food when none was available, a skill that would be needed in the future when campaigning far from home. The life and training of Spartan boys: Birth – examination of health, live or to be exposed. 0-7 —live with mother 7-12 — military barracks, taught military skills as well as fending for themselves, obeying orders and sharing responsibilities, age 10 learnt music dance and athletics. 12-18— continued to live in barracks and undergo training, learnt games of endurance and skill, taught how to steal, also disciplined and restricted living qualities e. training naked, short hair, beds of hay, one piece of clothing for hole year. 18-23—Enrolled as eiren, or prefect/overseer – this was stage similar to cadet corps, able to serve in the army, able to marry 23-30 —full time soldier 30—citizen and soldier, ale to live at home although had meals in the barracks At the age of 18 Spartan youths entered the stage of their training as cadets, or eirene’s. It is likely that they could fight, but not as front line soldiers. As an eiren, the Spartan acted as a leader and role model for the younger boys.
He had the responsibility of the whip and could dispense punishments. At 23 he was a frontline soldier and ready for the battle field a full trained war machine ready to advance or die for his country. If the soldier survived till the age of 30 he entered full citizenship, if a Spartan youth did not progress through each stage of training he did not have the option to claim full citizenship This very long process of training and preparation for war is what makes the Spartan soldiers set aside from the rest, fearless, courageous, tactical, powerful, and unstoppable!
EQUIPMENT OF SPARTAN ARMY: The Spartan army was tactically advance for its time, unlike other societies who send slaves to war or working men, all Sparta’s soldier’s know is to fight; being a warrior is the only thing they will ever know along with this warrior like ethos is the equipment that help make it happen. The Spartan’s Primary Weapon: The Dory The Spartan warriors primary weapon was a spear called a dory. Accounts of its length vary but it is typically believed to have been between 7 to 9 feet (2. 1 – 2. 7 meters) in length.
The spear was held one handed, perhaps depending on the situation, while the other arm was used to hold up the shield. At the business end there was a bronze or iron curved leaf shaped spearhead with a long, cylindrical socket in which the shaft was placed. Whether iron or bronze was more typical for a Spartan spear point remains an open question. The shaft itself was of cornel wood, selected due to the strength of this wood. Interestingly the wood from this tree is so dense that it actually sinks in water and the name of the tree became synonyms with spears in Greek poetry.
Leather would then be wrapped tightly around were the Spartan gripped the spear, obviously for a better grip. The butt of the spear was capped with a butt spike called a sauroter, Greek for ’lizard killer’. This spike had several uses. It could be used to stand the spear up or used as a secondary weapon if the spearhead was broke off. Additionally, any enemies that had fallen could be dispatched by the warriors marching over them in the back ranks of the phalanx who were holding there spears in a vertical position. Spartan Swords – Short ;Deadly Spartan hoplite warriors also carried a short sword called a xiphos.
This secondary weapon would have been employed if the crush of battle made a hoplites spear useless or if it was broken. Among most Greek warriors this weapon had an iron blade of about two feet (0. 6 m), however the Spartan version was typically only 12-18 inches. The Spartans shorter weapon proved deadly in the crush caused by colliding phalanxes formations where it was capable of being thrust through gaps in the enemies shield walls and armor were there was no room for longer weapons. The groin and throat were favorite targets of the tenacious Spartans.
The Kopis – The Nasty Spartan Weapon As an alternative to the xiphos some Spartans selected the dreaded Kopis as their secondary weapon. This was a vicious hacking weapon in the form of a thick, curved iron sword. Warriors would use this weapon more as an axe then a sword, inflicting nasty wounds compared to the cleaner holes made by the spear and xiphos. The Old Bashing Shield The main purpose of the Spartan shield was defensive; however Spartans also used it to bash their opponents. This could be to stun them, knock them down or get some room to use another weapon.
The shield could also be used as a killing weapon outright, its weight and thin edge making it a superb blunt weapon. The hoplite shield was very heavy. They were constructed out of wood with an outer layer of bronze. Due to its defensive nature, Spartans using it as a weapon could gain the advantage of surprise. HELMET: Bronze war helmet often decorated with a crest of a horsehair, covering the face just leaving a little gap for the eyes to see out of, the Spartan helmet also did not have any holes for the ears, so the hoplite army would have had trouble hearing on the battle field
ORGANISATION OF SPARTAN ARMY During the Persian wars the Persian wars, the exiled Spartan king. Demaratus warned the Persian king Xerxes of the type of opposition he could expect from the Spartans. The whole Spartan society organized and aimed at producing a strong fighting force of great warriors who were willing to die for their country. In 669 BC the humiliating loss to the argives caused Sparta to develop their militaristic state, thus changing their whole way of life.
The army in Sparta, underwent changes in their organizational aspects of war and society, from the 7th to the 4th century throughout the 6th century into the beginning of the 5th century, the Spartan army was composed of all spartiate citizens, towards the end of the 5th century non spartiates began to perform military duties. The Spartan army was organized according to age divisions specified in the agoge. Originally there were five divisions called morai drawn from five tribal regions (obai) or Sparta. Later this was increased to six morai. DIVISION OF SPARTAN ARMY: DIVISION| MADE UP OF| MODERN EQUIVALENT|
Mora| 4 lochoi| regiment| Lochos| 2 pentekostyes| battalion| Pentekostys| 4 enomatiai| company| Enomotia| 4 files of 8 ment| platoon| Source from, Antiquity 2, interpreting the past, third edition, pg 134. Another group of soldiers within the Spartan army was composed of “hippeis” (knights). This group’s purpose seemed to have been to guard the kings; it was a picked group of 300 men. Thucydides V, 72. 4 and Herodotus VIII, 124. 3 The Spartan armies also relied on hoplite armies. A hoplite was a heavily armed infantryman named after the shield he carried – the hoplon.
The success of the Spartan army depended on its military tactics, also largely on the discipline of the troops, the massed hoplite formation, or “phalanx” which large group of soliders formed in a tight “scrum” like formation, Regardless of the precise composition of the phalanx, in battle the drill was the same. The enomotiai marched behind each other in a large row. Before the battle the last troops of each enemotia positioned themselves on the left behind their leader to form a phalanx of four columns, in total 16 rows wide and 8 rows deep.
A space of two metres was maintained between the columns, but on the order “close ranks” the last troops walked to the left front to close gaps in the front row. The phalanx was in a closed formation and ready for the battle. The phalanx was an offensive infantry formation for hand-to- hand shock combat. It usually fought without light troop or cavalry support, which should have been an important disadvantage, but the Spartans largely ignored these auxiliary troops. As long as they fought among themselves, lack of troops and cavalry was not a problem. IN SPARTAN SOCIETY THE STATE WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE INDIVIDUAL, DISSCUSS.
The focus of the lives of Sparta’s citizens was on the service to the state and the building of its military ethos. This came to be after Lycurgus sought the help of the Delphic oracle. He was instructed to establish a sanctuary to Zeus and Athena, divide the people into tribes and obai; appoint the two kings and the Gerousia etc. All the changes or reforms supposedly introduced by Lycurgus were in the form of a great Rhetra (oral tradition of the Spartans and their laws, often based on oracles). This is significant because it is the foundation document of the Spartan constitution.
This is the reason why Spartan state had so much power and control over its people. The reforms attributed to Lycurgus encompassed all aspects of the Spartan life: economic, political and social. The idea of all these reforms was the Greek concept of “eunomia” which represented good order and good government emphasized by the importance of duty and obedience to the laws of the Spartan state. All aspects of the Spartan life are usually controlled by the state, even the “kleros” the Spartan citizen’s land. The Spartiates each held a portion of land and each had an equal vote in the assembly.
But in saying this Spartan citizens were obliged to devote their whole life to the state and were not allowed by law to engage in public activities such as trade. A Spartan could gain estate by either being given an allotment from the state or by receiving an inheritance from his father. Spartans did not have to worry themselves with earning a living, but could concentrate their efforts on warfare and the welfare of the state. The state even expected a monthly contribution from the produce of a citizens “kleros”, to the military organization of Sparta.
Failure to do so would result in loss of citizenship, without question. Sparta did not just consist of Spartiates; it was also in conjunction with the periokoi and the helots, all of which fall under the control of the Spartan state. The periokoi, although controlled their own communities, had no voice in the government of Sparta and were treated as if they were slaves, Spartan officials were responsible for supervising the periokoi and had the authority to put them to death without trial. They were basically a community of people living on their own grounds yet forced to bow down to the royalty of Sparta.
The Spartan state enforced the periokoi with their major obligation; to serve in the military. Although they did not undergo the same military training as the Spartiates, they were expected to provide hoplites for the army. As well as their military contributions the periokoi were expected to procure metals and provide weapons to the army, seeing that their main goal in life was not to become a highly trained warrior, the Periokoi had many skilled craftsmen amongst their population which was a useful asset to the Spartan state.
Along with this group of people were the helot serfs, an enslaved population who were also owned by the state. The Spartan’s thought of themselves as far more superior than the helots and showed no hesitation in barbarically punishing them just in order to maintain their lifestyle. The use of the helots to Sparta was mainly agricultural and they were required to give the state half of their produce. Generally the Helots had no legal or political standing in the community. When the Spartans went to war the Helots would accompany them and as act their slaves completing any tastes the soldiers may need.
In Spartan society failure to comply with the states rules and ethos resulted in loss of citizenship, outcasts who are frowned upon and disregarded in all aspects of society, how these outcasts survived is still unclear today. These people were deprived of their rights to vote and hold office. They had to sit alone at festivals, were unable to marry and forced to wear special dress and go unshaven. Everyone in Sparta avoided them in their efforts to not fall into the same category! The Spartan women to the Spartan state were means of producing healthy babies and in result, strong warriors!
Although not participating in the agoge and 30 years of service, spartan society expected women to support the military ethos as much as anyone else The mothers were educated to properly raise warriors. Children did not belong to their families but were possessions of the state, Mothers were forced to sacrifice their love for their sons and let them go to train and live in the agoge lifestyle in order to help expand and grow the military giant. The Agoge is most probably the best suited example to support the statement “state being more important than the individual”.
This complicated system of training and way of life is not an optional thing; it is forced upon the spartiate people. From birth you are born into a systematic way of life, after the age of 7 you are forced to live under the conditions and endure the suffering and pain of many years of training, then after fighting multiple battles and serving for 30 years in the army you are granted citizenship that is if you survive of course. Any attempt to rebel, escape, or succeed the laws of the Spartan constitution will result in being stripped of citizenship and left become an outcast.
These previous examples are proof of the importance and power of the spartan state over the spartan individual. It had the ability to manipulate the society and culture into living a systematic lifestyle which resulted in the creation of war machines and a population based on military expansion and obedience to the state, which was in order to grant the progression and build the stability of the spartan society. BIBLIOGRAPHY: 1. Xenophon constitution of the Spartans’ in Lewis, Naphtali, Greek Historical Documents. The fifth Century BC. , A.
M Hakkert Ltd, Toronto 1971 2. Herodotus’, the histories, tr. Aubrey de Selincourt, Penguin Classics 1972 3. Notes from notebook 4. Notes from ex-students ancient history notebook (2011) 5. http://www. ancientgreekbattles. net/Pages/9007_PhalanxHistory. htm 6. http://hsc. csu. edu. au/ancient_history/societies/greece/spartan_society/sparta_lycurgus/ancient_sparta_lycurgus. htm 7. http://www. spartan-world. g/agoge_text. html Jorge T ancient history – sparta mr wheatley ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Plutarch, Lycurgus 6, 1-9