Life in Sparta
Life is Sparta was heavily focused on their military and the hoplite warriors, but the Spartans had plenty of other pursuits. Hobbies and interests were important to the Spartans also which they engaged with the same voracity and passion they would their fighting. Whether the Spartan citizen was involved in dancing, athletics, hunting or attending a festival or banquets, the Spartan people would give one hundred percent.
Athletics in ancient Sparta
In ancient Sparta, athletics was a massive part of life. Young and old, male or female, athletics would be something that everyone in Sparta would be involved in. It’s one of ancient Sparta’s defining points that women would partake in sports too, which was not typical in the ancient world. Not only was it recommended it was actually considered crucial, the Spartans believed that a fit woman was more healthy and better prepared for childbirth, and the Spartan women not only got involved in athletics, just like the Spartan men they excelled at it.
The Spartans would spend much of their free time when not at war training athletics. Not only would they train in many events and disciplines, they would also compete at the Olympic Games of the Ancient Greek city states, where many a Spartan athlete would have success in front of the adoring crowds.
Dancing in Sparta
The ancient Spartans loved to dance, it was a good fit with their athletic persuasions and also allowed them to celebrate and show off their physical skills. The Spartans would dance for fun, to show their skills and to highlight the beauty of the body, the Spartans were not shy about showing off their hard earned skills. The Spartans would celebrate and dance at various festivals including the Gymnopaedia which was celebrated yearly.
Hunting in Sparta
Hunting was another activity the Spartans enjoyed. Hunting would provide competition in the absence of battle and the Olympics, and would also provide food and material for using in clothing or decoration, although the Spartans would more than likely pass the task of actually turning the animal skin into clothing to their helot slaves.
Spartan hunting would typically require everyone to hand, from horses to make the hunt easier, to the lakonian hounds and helots in the party should any animal require carrying or capturing. The Spartans liked to ensure they made the kill up close, and they made it personal, it was them against the animal a true competition and approach that fully embodied the Spartan ethos.
While the Spartans rarely over indulged in food or wine, they would celebrate certain key events. The Spartans celebrated Hyacinthia which was a celebration of Hyacinthus and on the second day of the festival a large banquet would be held, songs would be sung, horses would be raced and the Spartans would celebrate with friends, families and their helot slaves.
Life in Sparta in summary
Just as with war, the Spartans were excellent at most things they really enjoyed, and their passions were often just as physical as fighting. The life of a Spartan citizen would be built around a life of physical activity, whether it was hunting, athletics or dancing. The ancient Spartans were either blessed with natural athletic skill or their hard work allowed them to excel, I guess we will never know which is true.
‘With the Olympics coming soon we wondered whether this year 656 BC would be as successful for Chionis as the last two games. Previously Chionis had won both the Diaulos and the Stadion events and in both of the previous games, and if he were to win again it would be a proud moment for Chionis and Sparta.’