Sparta - Ancient Sparta
Ancient Sparta, famous for its mighty warriors, its dominance around 650 BC and its unique social hierarchy and system. Sparta itself was a city state in Greece throughout ancient times, and moved through various levels of success, failure, dominance, kings and eventually destruction.
Sparta is located in Laconia which which is a regional unit of Greece, and is where the term 'laconic' was derived from, which interesting comes from the way the Spartans would communicate, concise and to the point. The natural location of Sparta was a defensive one due to the position of the state which would come in useful during the many battles that Sparta would be involved in.
Sparta and its Spartan warriors are famous for their bravery, battle skills and advanced battle formations and tactics. Considered second to none the warriors of Sparta were legendary, but this was not all that Sparta was about, and out of all the Greek states Sparta was in many ways a trendsetting forerunner of the time. Sparta was forward thinking in many ways, its political, education system and physical training regimes were considered advanced for their time. Men were trained to be warriors, but not just physical warriors, they would be mentally sharp too, laconic, sharp and educated. Spartan women were not ignored either and were also educated to a high level, a rarity of the time, and all citizens, man or woman should they make it past birth would be treated to one of the most organised city states of the time.
The Spartan diet and food choice was very representative of the state, simple and functional just like the citizens. Read more about the Ancient Spartan Food and Diet >>
Spartan children had it rough from the start, hand picked, only the strong would survive, then training would start and they would start on their path to becoming a full citizen. Read more about the Children of Sparta >>
Sparta was home to many famous warriors, kings, queens and women, from the mighty Leonidas to Cynisca and Arachidamia. Read more about the Famous Spartans >>
The unique kings of Sparta shared ruler-ship of the throne between the two royal bloodlines, the Eurypontids and the Agiads. Read more about the Kings of Sparta >>
Spartan life was strict and regimented, but also valued physical exercise and even education and philosophy. Read more about the Life in Sparta >>
The Spartan architecture and buildings were in many ways reflective of the Spartan people, functional and unfussy. Read more about the Spartan Architecture >>
The battles of ancient Sparta were the stuff of legend, from the Messian Wars to the famous Persian wars. Read more about the Spartan Battles >>
Sparta like much of ancient Greece had a class structure from the Helot to the Perioeci to the full citizens, the Spartiates Proper. Read more about the Spartan Classes >>
Spartan clothing was thought to be incredibly similar to the Greek clothing of the time, although the Spartans were well known for wearing less than their Greek counterparts. Read more about the Spartan Clothing and Dress >>
Spartan culture revolved around the military, with a respect for their elders and a moral code that would guide their state. Read more about the Spartan Culture >>
The Spartan helots would serve the state of Sparta for whatever it required, farming, manual labour and assisting in war. Read more about the Spartan Helots >>
Spartan men were strong and well trained, the perfect fighting machine built to protect the state of Sparta. Read more about the Spartan Men >>
The fearsome Spartan military was one of the most fearsome fighting machines of the ancient world. Read more about the Spartan Military >>
Religion was another part of Spartan lift that was treated very seriously, their love for the gods was as much as any state in ancient Greece. Read more about the Spartan Religion >>
Spartan women had privileges the other Greek women could only dream off, allowed to exercise and socialise the Spartan woman was a rare breed. Read more about the Spartan Women >>
The Peloponnesian League was the Spartan alternative to the Athenian powered Delian league and brought together many states as one. Read more about the The Peloponnesian League >>
A quick history of Sparta
The foundation of Sparta was set back around the late 10th century or early 9th century BC after the first signs of settlements and villages in the area formed together for their own strength and security. This is where the start of the two kings of Sparta lineage was thought to have started what would long continue as a unique theme of ancient Sparta.
This at the time fledging Sparta, would continue to grow over time till their first battle with the Messenians. The ongoing battle which occurred in the mid 8th century BC and lasted around 20 years would be long standing feud where the Spartans would emerge victorious, partly due to their desire to never back down. The Spartans, as in much of ancient Greece would take the losers in war as slaves, or what the Spartans termed as Helots. The Messenian people however were not the kind to embrace slavery forever, and subsequently revolved back against the Spartans around 650 BC but were handily dismantled by the far superior Spartan warriors, who were not only better equipped, but better trained, better disciplined and overall the superior fighting unit. This would be the time when Sparta would become a powerful and dominant force in what was ancient Greece, leading to many a renowned battle or conflict for the Spartans and their neighbours and enemies from foreign lands.
Later at the start of the 5th Century Sparta would play an important role in the Persian wars, where the states of Greece would go to war against an invading and powerful Persian army. This would be the time of the famous battle of Thermopylae, where the legendary Spartan King Leonidas would lead only 300 Spartan warriors to defend a small impasse against a huge Persian force, eventually losing the battle, but not without great renown and honour.
From 431 BC Sparta and the Peloponnesian League of which it was the dominant leader, would be involved in the Peloponnesian war, where Athens and its empire at the time would go to war with Sparta and its allies. This conflict between two dominant forces in ancient Greece would last over 30 years and of course the mighty Spartans would emerge as the victors in a fierce battle. This would be the final high point in the existence of ancient Sparta, but the years of battle had taken their toll on the state. With more battles ahead, the Spartans would be at war with a unified alliance and eventually would be defeated by Thebes, effectively marking the end of one of the most respected warrior states that ever existed.
The structure of ancient Sparta
One interesting aspect of ancient Sparta is the social structure and hierarchy. The Spartan social structure had three classes, with the full citizens, the Spartiates Proper sitting atop the food chain. Even though the Spartiates were the upper class, Compared to Athens, the gap between upper, middle and lower classes was much less defined, the Spartans, while owners of slaves and aware of classes put much less emphasis on living up the high life. Many consider their military way of life was the reason for them to share the wealth, their power and their confidence, allowing them to treat their classes in a different way, marking Sparta out as something of a visionary.
The men and women of ancient Sparta
The men and women of the ancient state of Sparta were athletic, strong, and well prepared, the men were willing to fight to the death and the women expected them too. As children they would be evaluated from birth and this would continue throughout their life, they were expected to perform and to excel, failure was not an option for a Spartan born man or woman.
Summary of Sparta
Known as the birthplace of the greatest warriors of all time, the mighty Spartans were silent killers on the battlefield and athletes off it. The Spartans lived a simple life, their state was governed by regimented rules and orders, every Spartan would have to earn their place whether they were a man, women or child.
Known for their good treatment of their helots, their ahead of its time equality towards women, and of course for the famous battle of Thermoplylae, the Spartans would not back down to any man or ruler, they would fight for their state, and they did on many occasion with skill and controlled violence.