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Age of sparta

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In BC, a small force of Spartans, Thespians, and Thebans led by King Leonidas approximately were full Spartiates, were Thespians, and were Thebans; these numbers do not reflect casualties incurred prior to the final battle , made a legendary last stand at the Battle of Thermopylae against the massive Persian army, inflicting very high casualties on the Persian forces before finally being encircled.

Ideally, they would wish to fight at the Isthmus where they would avoid the risk of their infantry being caught in the open by the Persian cavalry.

However, in BC, the remaining Persian forces under Mardonius devastated Attica, Athenian pressure forced Sparta to lead an advance. In the resulting Battle of Plataea the Greeks under the generalship of the Spartan Pausanias overthrew the lightly armed Persian infantry, killing Mardonius.

The superior weaponry, strategy, and bronze armour of the Greek hoplites and their phalanx again proved their worth one year later when Sparta assembled at full strength and led a Greek alliance against the Persians at the battle of Plataea.

Even though this war was won by a pan-Greek army, credit was given to Sparta, who besides being the protagonist at Thermopylae and Plataea, had been the de facto leader of the entire Greek expedition.

When this victory led to a revolt of the Ionian Greeks it was Sparta that rejected their admission to the Hellenic alliance.

Sparta proposed that they should abandon their homes in Anatolia and settle in the cities that had supported the Persians.

However, his arrogant behavior forced his recall. Pausanias had so alienated the Ionians that they refused to accept the successor, Dorcis , that Sparta sent to replace him.

Instead those newly liberated from Persia turned to Athens. In later Classical times, Sparta along with Athens , Thebes , and Persia had been the main powers fighting for supremacy against each other.

As a result of the Peloponnesian War , Sparta, a traditionally continental culture, became a naval power. At the peak of its power Sparta subdued many of the key Greek states and even managed to overpower the elite Athenian navy.

By the end of the 5th century BC, it stood out as a state which had defeated the Athenian Empire and had invaded the Persian provinces in Anatolia, a period which marks the Spartan Hegemony.

The Sparta earthquake of BC destroyed much of Sparta. Historical sources suggest that the death toll may have been as high as 20,, although modern scholars suggest that this figure is likely an exaggeration.

The earthquake sparked a revolt of the helots, the slave class of Spartan society. Events surrounding this revolt led to an increase in tension between Sparta and their rival Athens and the cancellation of a treaty between them.

After the troops of a relief expedition dispatched by conservative Athenians were sent back with cold thanks, Athenian democracy itself fell into the hands of reformers and moved toward a more populist and anti-Spartan policy.

Therefore, this earthquake is cited by historical sources as one of the key events that led up to the First Peloponnesian War.

In the immediate aftermath, the helots saw an opportunity to rebel. This was followed by the siege of Ithome which the rebel helots had fortified.

Sparta began to fear that the Athenian troops might make common cause with the rebels. Providing the official justification that since the initial assault on Ithome had failed, what was now required was a blockade, a task the Spartans did not need Athenian help with.

In Athens, this snub resulted in Athens breaking off its alliance with Sparta and allying with its enemy, Argos. Paul Cartledge hazards that the revolt of helots and perioeci led the Spartans to reorganize their army and integrate the perioeci into the citizen hoplite regiments.

Certainly a system where citizens and non citizens fought together in the same regiments was unusual for Greece.

The Spartans had been using non-citizens as hoplites well before that and the proportion did not change.

He doubts that the Spartans ever subscribed to the citizen only hoplite force ideal, so beloved by writers such as Aristotle.

The Peloponnesian Wars were the protracted armed conflicts, waged on sea and land, of the last half of the 5th century BC between the Delian League controlled by Athens and the Peloponnesian League dominated by Sparta over control of the other Greek city-states.

The Delian League is often called "the Athenian Empire" by scholars. The Peloponnesian League believed it was defending itself against Athenian aggrandizement.

The war had ethnic overtones that generally but not always applied: They were never fully trusted by the Spartans. Ethnic animosity was fueled by the forced incorporation of small Dorian states into the Delian League, who appealed to Sparta.

Motivations, however, were complex, including local politics and considerations of wealth. In the end Sparta won, but it declined soon enough and was soon embroiled with wars with Boeotia and Persia, until being overcome finally by Macedon.

When the First Peloponnesian War broke out, Sparta was still preoccupied suppressing the helot revolt, [50] hence its involvement was somewhat desultory.

However they then returned home giving the Athenians an opportunity to defeat the Boeotians at the battle of Oenophyta and so overthowing Boeotia.

By contrast, however, Sparta sought a thirty-year peace with Argos to ensure that they could strike Athens unencumbered.

Thus Sparta was fully able to exploit the situation when Megara , Boeotia and Euboea revolted, sending an army into Attica. The war ended with Athens deprived of its mainland possessions but keeping its vast Aegean Empire intact.

But the treaty was broken when Sparta warred with Euboea. Within six years, Sparta was proposing to its allies to go to war with Athens in support of the rebellion in Samos.

On that occasion Corinth successfully opposed Sparta and they were voted down. Sparta entered with the proclaimed goal of the "liberation of the Greeks" — an aim that required a total defeat of Athens.

Their method was to invade Attica in the hope of provoking Athens to give battle. Athens, meanwhile, planned a defensive war.

The Athenians would remain in their city, behind their impenetrable walls, and use their naval superiority to harass the Spartan coastline.

The war resumed in BC and lasted until BC. The arguments advanced in the assembly were that it would be a profitable possession and an enhancement of the empire.

They invested a large portion of the state resources in a military expedition, but recalled one of its commanders, Alcibiades , on a trumped-up charge of impiety some religious statues had been mutilated for which he faced the death penalty.

Escaping in his ship he deserted to Sparta. Having defaulted on the inquiry he was convicted in absentia and sentenced to death.

At first Sparta hesitated to resume military operations. The success of Sparta and the eventual capture of Athens in BC were aided partly by that advice.

He induced Sparta to send Gylippus to conduct the defence of Syracuse , to fortify Decelea in northern Attica, and to adopt a vigorous policy of aiding Athenian allies to revolt.

Athens was now totally dependent on its fleet, then materially superior to the Spartan navy. Gylippus did not arrive alone at Syracuse. Collecting a significant force from Sicily and Spartan hoplites serving overseas he took command of the defense.

The initial Athenian force under Nicias had sailed boldly into the Great Harbor of Syracuse to set up camp at the foot of the city, which was on a headland.

Gylippus collected an international army of pro-Spartan elements from many parts of the eastern Mediterranean on the platform of liberation of Greece from the tyranny of Athens.

Ultimately the Athenian force was not large enough to conduct an effective siege. They attempted to wall in the city but were prevented by a counter-wall.

A second army under Demosthenes arrived. Finally the Athenian commanders staked everything on a single assault against a weak point on the headland, Epipolae, but were thrown back with great losses.

They were about to depart for Athens when an eclipse of the full moon moved the soothsayers to insist they remain for another nine days, just the time needed for the Syracusians to prepare a fleet to block the mouth of the harbor.

Events moved rapidly toward disaster for the Athenians. Attempting to break out of the harbor they were defeated in a naval battle. The admiral, Eurymedon , was killed.

Losing confidence in their ability to win, they abandoned the remaining ships and the wounded and attempted to march out by land.

The route was blocked at every crossing by Syracusians, who anticipated this move. The Athenian army marched under a rain of missiles. When Nicias inadvertently marched ahead of Demosthenes the Syracusians surrounded the latter and forced a surrender, to which that of Nicias was soon added.

Both leaders were executed, despite the protests of Gylippus, who wanted to take them back to Sparta. Several thousand prisoners were penned up in the quarries without the necessities of life or the removal of the dead.

After several months the remaining Athenians were ransomed. The failure of the expedition in was a material loss the Athenians could hardly bear, but the war continued for another ten years.

Spartan shortcomings at sea were by this time manifest to them, especially under the tuteledge of Alcibiades. The lack of funds which could have proved fatal to Spartan naval warfare, was remedied by the intervention of Persia, which supplied large subsidies.

The Great King would supply funds for the Spartan fleet if the Spartans would guarantee to the king his ancestral lands; to wit, the coast of Asia Minor with the Ionian cities it was not really Persian ancestral land.

An agreement was reached. A Spartan fleet and negotiator was sent to Asia Minor. The negotiator was Alcibiades, now persona non grata in Sparta because of his new mistress, the wife of King Agis, then away commanding the garrison at Deceleia.

After befriending Tissaphernes Alcibiades was secretly offered an honorable return to Athens if he would influence the latter on their behalf.

He was a double agent, The Spartans received little money or expert advice. By the Great King had perceived that the agreement with the Spartans was not being implemented.

He sent his brother, Cyrus the younger , to relieve Tissaphernes of his command of Lydia. Tissaphernes was pushed aside to the governorship of Caria.

Exposed, Alcibiades departed for Athens in In his place Sparta sent an agent of similar capabilities, a friend of King Agis, Lysander , who as "a diplomat and organizer Upgrade of the Spartan fleet proceeded rapidly.

In Alcibiades returned as the commander of an Athenian squadron with the intent of destroying the new Spartan fleet, but it was too late.

He was defeated by Lysander at the Battle of Notium. The suspicious Athenian government repudiated its arrangement with Alcibiades. He went into exile a second time, to take up residence in a remote villa in the Aegean, now a man without a country.

He was replaced by Callicratidas but Cyrus now stinted his payments for the Spartan fleet. The funds allocated by the Great King had been used up.

The Delian League would be left in place. Athens would still be allowed to collect tribute for its defense. The war party at Athens, however, mistrusted Sparta.

One of its leaders, Cleophon , addressed the assembly wearing his armor, drunk. He demanded the Spartans withdraw from all cites they then held as a precondition of peace.

The assembly rejected the Spartan offer. It undertook a new offensive against Spartan allies in the Aegean. Together they formulated an appeal to Sparta that Lysander be sent out for a second term.

Both Spartan political norms and the Spartan constitution should have prevented his second term, but in the wake of the new Spartan defeat a circumvention was found.

Lysander would be the secretary of a nominal navarch, Aracus , with the rank of vice-admiral. Lysander was again entrusted with all the resources needed to maintain and operate the Spartan fleet.

Cyrus supplied the funds from his own resources. The Great King now recalled Cyrus to answer for the execution of certain members of the royal family.

Cyrus appointed Lysander governor in his place, giving him the right to collect taxes. Lysander then sailed at his leisure for Athens to impose a blockade.

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The gerousia consisted of 28 elders over the age of 60, elected for life and usually part of the royal households, and the two kings.

The royal prerogatives were curtailed over time. Dating from the period of the Persian wars, the king lost the right to declare war and was accompanied in the field by two ephors.

He was supplanted also by the ephors in the control of foreign policy. Over time, the kings became mere figureheads except in their capacity as generals.

Real power was transferred to the ephors and to the gerousia. The origins of the powers exercised by the assembly of the citizens called the Apella are virtually unknown because of the lack of historical documentation [25] and Spartan state secrecy.

Not all inhabitants of the Spartan state were considered to be citizens. Only those who had undertaken the Spartan education process known as the agoge were eligible.

However, usually the only people eligible to receive the agoge were Spartiates , or people who could trace their ancestry to the original inhabitants of the city.

There were two exceptions. Trophimoi or "foster sons" were foreign students invited to study. The Athenian general Xenophon , for example, sent his two sons to Sparta as trophimoi.

The other exception was that the son of a helot could be enrolled as a syntrophos [55] if a Spartiate formally adopted him and paid his way. If a syntrophos did exceptionally well in training, he might be sponsored to become a Spartiate.

These laws meant that Sparta could not readily replace citizens lost in battle or otherwise and eventually proved near fatal to the continuance of the state as the number of citizens became greatly outnumbered by the non-citizens and, even more dangerously, the helots.

Others in the state were the perioikoi , who were free inhabitants of Spartan territory but were non-citizens, and the helots , [57] the state-owned serfs.

Descendants of non-Spartan citizens were not able to follow the agoge. The Spartans were a minority of the Lakonian population. The helots were originally free Greeks from the areas of Messenia and Lakonia whom the Spartans had defeated in battle and subsequently enslaved.

In contrast to populations conquered by other Greek cities e. Instead, the helots were given a subordinate position in society more comparable to serfs in medieval Europe than chattel slaves in the rest of Greece.

Helots did not have voting rights, although compared to non-Greek chattel slaves in other parts of Greece they were relatively privileged.

In other Greek city-states, free citizens were part-time soldiers who, when not at war, carried on other trades. Since Spartan men were full-time soldiers, they were not available to carry out manual labour.

Helot women were often used as wet nurses. Helots also travelled with the Spartan army as non-combatant serfs.

At the last stand of the Battle of Thermopylae , the Greek dead included not just the legendary three hundred Spartan soldiers but also several hundred Thespian and Theban troops and a number of helots.

Relations between the helots and their Spartan masters were sometimes strained. There was at least one helot revolt ca.

Slave revolts occurred elsewhere in the Greek world, and in BC 20, Athenian slaves ran away to join the Spartan forces occupying Attica.

As the Spartiate population declined and the helot population continued to grow, the imbalance of power caused increasing tension.

According to Myron of Priene [67] of the middle 3rd century BC:. Plutarch also states that Spartans treated the Helots "harshly and cruelly": Each year when the Ephors took office they ritually declared war on the helots, thereby allowing Spartans to kill them without the risk of ritual pollution.

As many as two thousand were selected accordingly, who crowned themselves and went round the temples, rejoicing in their new freedom. The Spartans, however, soon afterwards did away with them, and no one ever knew how each of them perished.

The Perioikoi came from similar origins as the helots but occupied a significantly different position in Spartan society.

Although they did not enjoy full citizen-rights, they were free and not subjected to the same restrictions as the helots. The exact nature of their subjection to the Spartans is not clear, but they seem to have served partly as a kind of military reserve, partly as skilled craftsmen and partly as agents of foreign trade.

Spartan citizens were debarred by law from trade or manufacture, which consequently rested in the hands of the Perioikoi. Lacedaemon was rich in natural resources, fertile and blessed with a number of good natural harbors.

The periokoi could exploit these resources for their own enrichment, and did. Spartiates, on the other hand, were forbidden in theory from engaging in menial labor or trade, although there is evidence of Spartan sculptors, [78] and Spartans were certainly poets, magistrates, ambassadors, and governors as well as soldiers.

Allegedly, Spartans were prohibited from possessing gold and silver coins, and according to legend Spartan currency consisted of iron bars to discourage hoarding.

The conspicuous display of wealth appears to have been discouraged, although this did not preclude the production of very fine, highly decorated bronze, ivory and wooden works of art and the production of jewellery.

Archeology has produced many examples of all these objects, some of which are exquisite. Allegedly in connection with the Lycurgan Reforms e.

Each citizen received one estate, a kleros, and thereafter was expected to derive his wealth from it. From the other half, the Spartiate was expected to pay his mess syssitia fees, and the agoge fees for his children.

However, we know nothing about whether land could be bought and sold, whether it could be inherited, if so by what system primogeniture or equally divided among heirs , whether daughters received dowries and much more.

Attempts were made to remedy this situation by creating new laws. Certain penalties were imposed upon those who remained unmarried or who married too late in life.

Sparta was above all a militarist state, and emphasis on military fitness began virtually at birth. Shortly after birth, a mother would bathe her child in wine to see whether the child was strong.

The Gerousia then decided whether it was to be reared or not. When Spartans died, marked headstones would only be granted to soldiers who died in combat during a victorious campaign or women who died either in service of a divine office or in childbirth.

When male Spartans began military training at age seven, they would enter the agoge system. The agoge was designed to encourage discipline and physical toughness and to emphasize the importance of the Spartan state.

Boys lived in communal messes and, according to Xenophon, whose sons attended the agoge , the boys were fed "just the right amount for them never to become sluggish through being too full, while also giving them a taste of what it is not to have enough.

There is some evidence that in late-Classical and Hellenistic Sparta boys were expected to take an older male mentor, usually an unmarried young man.

However, there is no evidence of this in archaic Sparta. According to some sources, the older man was expected to function as a kind of substitute father and role model to his junior partner; however, others believe it was reasonably certain that they had sexual relations the exact nature of Spartan pederasty is not entirely clear.

Post BC, some Spartan youth apparently became members of an irregular unit known as the Krypteia. The immediate objective of this unit was to seek out and kill vulnerable helot Laconians as part of the larger program of terrorising and intimidating the helot population.

Less information is available about the education of Spartan girls, but they seem to have gone through a fairly extensive formal educational cycle, broadly similar to that of the boys but with less emphasis on military training.

In this respect, classical Sparta was unique in ancient Greece. In no other city-state did women receive any kind of formal education. At age 20, the Spartan citizen began his membership in one of the syssitia dining messes or clubs , composed of about fifteen members each, of which every citizen was required to be a member.

The Spartans were not eligible for election for public office until the age of Only native Spartans were considered full citizens and were obliged to undergo the training as prescribed by law, as well as participate in and contribute financially to one of the syssitia.

Sparta is thought to be the first city to practice athletic nudity, and some scholars claim that it was also the first to formalize pederasty.

However, other scholars question this interpretation. Xenophon explicitly denies it, [91] but not Plutarch. Spartan men remained in the active reserve until age Men were encouraged to marry at age 20 but could not live with their families until they left their active military service at age They called themselves " homoioi " equals , pointing to their common lifestyle and the discipline of the phalanx , which demanded that no soldier be superior to his comrades.

Thucydides reports that when a Spartan man went to war, his wife or another woman of some significance would customarily present him with his hoplon shield and say: Spartans buried their battle dead on or near the battle field; corpses were not brought back on their hoplons.

According to Aristotle, the Spartan military culture was actually short-sighted and ineffective. It is the standards of civilized men not of beasts that must be kept in mind, for it is good men not beasts who are capable of real courage.

Aristotle was a harsh critic of the Spartan constitution and way of life. There is considerable evidence that the Spartans, certainly in the archaic period, were not educated as one-sidedly as Aristotle asserts.

In fact, the Spartans were also rigorously trained in logic and philosophy. One of the most persistent myths about Sparta that has no basis in fact is the notion that Spartan mothers were without feelings toward their off-spring and helped enforce a militaristic lifestyle on their sons and husbands.

In some of these sayings, mothers revile their sons in insulting language merely for surviving a battle. These sayings purporting to be from Spartan women were far more likely to be of Athenian origin and designed to portray Spartan women as unnatural and so undeserving of pity.

These items were grown locally on each Spartan citizens kleros and were tended to by helots. Spartan citizens were required to donate a certain amount of what they yielded from their kleros to their syssitia, or mess.

These donations to the syssitia were a requirement for every Spartan citizen. All the donated food was then redistributed to feed the Spartan population of that syssitia.

The custom was to capture women for marriage The bridegroom — who was not drunk and thus not impotent, but was sober as always — first had dinner in the messes, then would slip in, undo her belt, lift her and carry her to the bed.

The husband continued to visit his wife in secret for some time after the marriage. These customs, unique to the Spartans, have been interpreted in various ways.

Spartan women, of the citizenry class, enjoyed a status, power, and respect that was unknown in the rest of the classical world. The higher status of females in Spartan society started at birth; unlike Athens, Spartan girls were fed the same food as their brothers.

The reasons for delaying marriage were to ensure the birth of healthy children, but the effect was to spare Spartan women the hazards and lasting health damage associated with pregnancy among adolescents.

Spartan women, better fed from childhood and fit from exercise, stood a far better chance of reaching old age than their sisters in other Greek cities, where the median age for death was Unlike Athenian women who wore heavy, concealing clothes and were rarely seen outside the house, Spartan women wore dresses peplos slit up the side to allow freer movement and moved freely about the city, either walking or driving chariots.

Girls as well as boys exercised, possibly in the nude, and young women as well as young men may have participated in the Gymnopaedia "Festival of Nude Youths".

In accordance with the Spartan belief that breeding should be between the most physically fit parents, many older men allowed younger, more fit men, to impregnate their wives.

The Spartan population was hard to maintain due to the constant absence and loss of the men in battle and the intense physical inspection of newborns.

Spartan women were also literate and numerate, a rarity in the ancient world. Furthermore, as a result of their education and the fact that they moved freely in society engaging with their fellow male citizens, they were notorious for speaking their minds even in public.

Most importantly, Spartan women had economic power because they controlled their own properties, and those of their husbands.

Unlike women in Athens, if a Spartan woman became the heiress of her father because she had no living brothers to inherit an epikleros , the woman was not required to divorce her current spouse in order to marry her nearest paternal relative.

These tendencies became worse after the huge influx of wealth following the Spartan victory of the Peloponnesian War, leading to the eventual downfall of Sparta.

Many women played a significant role in the history of Sparta. Herodotus records that as a small girl she advised her father Cleomenes to resist a bribe.

She was later said to be responsible for decoding a warning that the Persian forces were about to invade Greece; after Spartan generals could not decode a wooden tablet covered in wax, she ordered them to clear the wax, revealing the warning.

Laconophilia is love or admiration of Sparta and of the Spartan culture or constitution. Sparta was subject of considerable admiration in its day, even in its rival, Athens.

In ancient times "Many of the noblest and best of the Athenians always considered the Spartan state nearly as an ideal theory realised in practice.

With the revival of classical learning in Renaissance Europe , Laconophilia re-appears, for examples in the writings of Machiavelli. The Elizabethan English constitutionalist John Aylmer compared the mixed government of Tudor England to the Spartan republic, stating that "Lacedemonia [meaning Sparta], [was] the noblest and best city governed that ever was".

He commended it as a model for England. The Swiss-French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau contrasted Sparta favourably with Athens in his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences , arguing that its austere constitution was preferable to the more cultured nature of Athenian life.

Sparta was also used as a model of social purity by Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Certain early Zionists, and particularly the founders of Kibbutz movement in Israel, had been influenced by Spartan ideals, particularly as a model for education.

Tabenkin, for example, a founding father of the Kibbutz and the Palmach , was influenced by Spartan education. He prescribed that education for warfare "should begin from the nursery", that children should from kindergarten age be taken to "spend nights in the mountains and valleys".

Adolf Hitler praised the Spartans, recommending in that Germany should imitate them by limiting "the number allowed to live".

He added that "The Spartans were once capable of such a wise measure The subjugation of , Helots by 6, Spartans was only possible because of the racial superiority of the Spartans.

In the modern times, the adjective "spartan" is used to imply simplicity, frugality, or avoidance of luxury and comfort.

Sparta also features prominently in modern popular culture see Sparta in popular culture , particularly the Battle of Thermopylae see Battle of Thermopylae in popular culture.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the ancient Greek city-state. For modern-day Sparta, see Sparta, Peloponnese.

For other uses, see Sparta disambiguation. For other uses, see Spartan disambiguation. The Lambda was used by the Spartan army as a symbol of Lacedaemon.

Spartan army and Spartiate. Women in ancient Sparta. There an amphitheatre was built in the 3rd century CE to observe the ritual whipping of Spartan youths.

Studies in the Ancient Greek Polis". Franz Steiner Verlag — via Google Books. Encyclopedia Of Ancient Greece. Danske Videnskabernes Selskab, p.

Word study tool of Ancient languages. In Bakker, Egbert J. A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language. Search by forum name.

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