Sparta: why was the more famous warrior people in history?

2 Replies
19 May, 2016, 11:37 PM UTC

Sparta was one of the most famous ancient Greek polis (next to Athens and Thebes), located on the Peloponnese peninsula, along the river Eurotas. It emerged as a political entity of importance after the Dorians, an Indo-European people who shared language and customs with the ancient Ionians and Achaeans invaded the region of Laconia and subjugate the local population.

Spartan helmet 

  • Around the year 650 a. C. Sparta was already a military power in the whole of ancient Greece and, thanks to its enormous military power, was one of the cities that led to the Greek allies during the famous Persian Wars against the Persians in the first half of the V century A. C, which would take place the famous battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartan soldiers, led by their king Leonidas, defended valiantly for several days the gorge of the same name with an army of nearly 200,000 men, markedly slowing progress Persians, and allowing the Athenian fleet at Salamis retreat, where it would obtain a decisive naval victory. This victory would be followed by the decisive victory of Plataea, where Spartan troops and Athenians finally managed to expel the invader.

Sparta 300 

  • After the victory of the Greeks over the Persians, between 431 and 404, Sparta became the direct rival of Athens, its former ally, in the Peloponnesian War, from which he emerged victorious paying a high cost. Sparta had allegedly launched this internal conflagration waving the flags of freedom and autonomy of cities, threatened by the Athenian imperialism, but, having beaten, behave the same or worse than their former ally, imposed abusive taxes, rulers puppets and even bet garrisons in the cities that threatened to rebel. From the year 413 BC the Greek historian Thucydides describe Sparta as the power "exercises alone now hegemony over all Greece".

A class society 

  • Sparta was a unique city in ancient Greece for its social system and constitution, which were completely focused on military training and excellence. Its inhabitants were classified into several status: The only ones who possessed political rights were "espartiatas" called, they had consanguineous offspring with the Indo-European people of the Dorians. also called "ASTOI" ( "citizens") or "Homoioi" ( "Couple" or "Equal"), formed a privileged minority, because at birth received a plot of land along with some helots or serfs, who retained all his lifetime. A real espartiata should be espartiatas son of parents, having received the "agogé" or Spartan education, eating with other citizens in public canteens and have sufficient property to enable it meet the costs of their citizenship. They formed a privileged minority who owned the land, occupied public offices and focused exclusively military power. Manuals and earth works were considered demeaning tasks for them, which were made by the helots, serfs descendants of peasant communities subjected to force by the Spartans.
  • Perioeci the periphery, meanwhile, were descendants of members of peasant communities subjected. They did not enjoy any political rights, but had a trade monopoly and shared the industry and crafts with the helots.


Soldiers trained from the cradle

  • Sparta became the greatest military power of the entire Greek territory thanks to the famous Spartan education or "agogé" a mandatory, collective and public education system and introduced from the reforms of Lycurgus (a legendary lawmaker who was attributed the drafting of the Constitution of ancient Sparta) focused mainly transform its citizens ferrous and unforgiving soldiers, preparing for war and to defend the honor of his country.
  • Future Spartan soldiers were prepared practically from the cradle, because a rigid Sparta practiced eugenics. After birth, every Spartan child was examined by a committee of state inspectors to determine whether it was healthy and well formed. If the child had any physical defect was considered a useless mouth and a burden to the city and took him to the foot of Mount Taygetos, where he was thrown into a ravine. The lucky babies who passed the inspection began their long journey to become obedient and brave citizens and ruthless warriors. It is said that to prove their strength, the babies were bathed entirely in undiluted wine to see their reaction, they were ignored when they cried and they were trained not to fear the dark.


  • Spartan education was based on strict and stringent rules of discipline, obedience and submission to authority. Parents did not educate their children because, after seven years, children depend on the state passed a very severe and received instruction. At that age, lest they became weak, they were separated from their mothers and placed in communal barracks. There were learning to read and write, but also to survive in a hostile world, learning sophisticated management techniques weapons, hunting techniques and fighting and giving great importance to physical exercise, and freedom from childhood fears, darkness, loneliness and superstitions. To begin to experience the rigor and harshness of military life also they were forced to go barefoot and wear the same clothes throughout the year.
  • From then until seventeen or eighteen, education is characterized by its extreme hardness, designed to create obedient, effective soldiers and attached to the good of the polis, rather than his own or his personal glory. A male masquerading them gradually through a series of trials and sufferings that were intended to harden. Sometimes, educators promoted fights between them in order to study their qualities and their individual value. They were starving and cold, running barefoot through rocky places and sleep on reeds cut themselves with their hands. As the Spartans hated speeches, they learned to speak little and to say things in the most accurate way and with the least possible number of words (called "laconic"). They demanded blind obedience and punishment in case of disobedience ranged from thumb bite them to whip them. They were allowed to steal food, but if they were caught were punished. Not for stealing, but for being surprised. They ate frugal but nutritious meals, and therefore saw almost malnourished, but agile and alert. Those who failed to finish the "agogé", incidentally, were not considered spartan rights.
  • Between 18 and 20 young people were left in the field to learn how to survive on their own. Pass this test initiation, called "criptia" boys gave citizenship and the possibility of joining the army. In case of failure, they were in danger of becoming periecos. Girls, meanwhile, also went to school at age seven. There, besides education, they received the same physical training than their siblings. So it is trying to ensure that, in future, have healthier children. 
  • Young Spartans under military tutelage, before reaching adulthood, had to go through a hard ritual known as the "diamastigosis" a practice where they were beaten brutally before the altar of the Temple of Artemis Orthia to test their physical endurance. The level of violence was so extreme, that cases of death during the ritual were few.
  • At twenty, the Spartan warrior received weapons and the first political rights of citizens. Even 30 years was not only a soldier, and although he could marry before that age, must live in the barracks. After 30 years, it was a citizen with full enjoyment of their rights and had a little more independence. The commitment to arms was so absolute that warriors had remained on active duty until reaching 60 years. Vital tasks, such as agriculture or manufacturing products, as mentioned above, the lower classes, which were formed by the helots and free citizens in outlying areas to the region of Laconia was occupied.


  • The Spartan soldiers, ready at all times for possible war scenario, followed a strict diet. Devotees worship the physical, ate, but almost insufficient light and nutritious rations. The most essential dish was his famous "black soup" made of blood, wine and viscera. Overweight citizens were fiercely ridiculed in public and risked being expelled from their city. Although consuming wine, the Spartans were careful drinking it in excess, and even came to force the drunkenness of slaves to show the younger how dangerous its consequences. Another institution instituted by Lycurgus was the food in public: all men were required to belong to a kind of gastronomic society formed by 15 members, to which contributed with products such as flour, wine, cheese, figs and some money meat. These clubs also evoke the concepts of saving and friendship, they were an effective way to maintain cohesion and coexistence, as well as a school for the younger ones. Also served to keep remote control gluttony and obesity, two detested vices in Sparta.

Sparta 300 

  • Men usually married recently at 30 years of age, while women could do before. The Spartans saw marriage as a means to conceive more warriors, to the point where citizens were instructed to consider the health and fitness of your partner when choosing it. Singles were not well regarded for not fulfilling their duty and were often mocked and humiliated in religious festivals. The education of girls was heading to create strong and healthy, suitable for children engender vigorous mothers. Since the state took care of their children and husbands spent long periods participating in wars, women were plying and managed the estate and held the reins of the household. They were so little contingent upon the man to realize that once an Athenian woman came to ask Gorgo, wife of Spartan king Leonidas, why, among all women, only Spartan dominated his men, to which she responded: " It will be because we give birth only real men. "

"Win or die," the slogan of Sparta 

  • The Spartans were training to fight fiercely and without fear, until the last soldier will remain standing, then surrender was not an option on the battlefield. Those who for any reason surrendered their weapons ended up committing suicide, driven by extreme embarrassment. Spartan necropolis in graves only bore the inscription of the name of the deceased in two cases: the dead in childbirth and the female soldiers fallen in battle.
  • Spartan education was oriented so much to the art of war that two of the top best known were "win or die" and "The Spartans do not ask how many enemies, but where they are". Besides, it was proverbial advice that Spartan mothers used to tell his children when they were leaving for a battle: "Come back with the shield or on it", referring to that would maintain the honor and never surrender although it lost life .

leonidas in battle 

  • Before the famous battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartan warriors forever wrote his name in history, it is said that the Persian invaders before entering battle sent an emissary to King Leonidas asking him to depose their weapons. The Spartan general, with the proverbial terseness of his country, only answered "ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ" ( "Come and take them"). And the same Leonids, when some Greek spies told him that the Persians were so numerous that when they cast their arrows into the air obscured the sunlight, said: "Better, so we will fight in the shade". 
  • Trained from childhood to endure pain, agitated by a fervent patriotic impulse and avid students of the strategy, the Spartans held the preponderance in Greece during the V century. C thanks to the development of military technique, which was basically the front push their hoplites, a mass of warriors equipped with heavy armor. But these very successes would end a society drowning in a blind militarism annulling all its other capabilities, to the point that cultural activity in the polis almost ceased completely. The defeat of the Spartans before the city of Thebes in the Battle of Leuctra, fought in 371 a. C. marked the end of its hegemony in Greece, although it maintained its political independence until the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC. During the Roman domination, and without military or political ambitions, Sparta concentrated on the most striking of its traditions: the Spartan education, which hardened, attracting "tourists" eager for violent and strange rites.

Spartan phalanx 

  • Sparta, during the Decline of the Roman Empire, live the beginning of the end. He was sacked by the Heruli in the year 267, and finally devastated by Alaric I, king of the Visigoths in 395. His particular bellicose idiosyncrasy not only fascinated his contemporaries, but that over the centuries, its exacerbated militarism it would be vindicated by various dictators of the twentieth century,

note: my English is not perfect, if there are errors I apologize, Greetings

UTC -5:00
20 May, 2016, 6:56 PM UTC
nice post and pretty accurate too :)
History is written by the victors
UTC +1:00
23 May, 2016, 1:23 PM UTC

Thank you Archon for your insights! It's good to write the historical facts so people can never forget!

UTC +4:00
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