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Spartans were the full citizens of Sparta . They called themselves Ὅμοιοι (Homoioi), which means as much as the same is .

During the heyday of Sparta in the 6th century BC They numbered about 8,000 men in BC, but this number decreased after the Persian Wars . They were a ruling minority with a population of the Lacedaemonian state of around 50,000 (excluding slaves). It was therefore a catastrophe if several hundred Spartians perished in a single battle, as in the Battle of Thermopylae or the Battle of Leuktra, or were captured, as on Sphakteria in the Peloponnesian War . In the 3rd century BC The number was barely 1000 men.

Education of the Spartans

The Spartan upbringing ( agoge ) was characterized by hardening, martial arts, discipline and the prohibition of all comforts that make life easier. The upbringing was strict. However, only a few specific details are known, as only later sources report on them and these probably in some cases quite deliberately represented an “ideal” and thus distorted reality. The girls were also brought up to be tough and to have control over their bodies, because it was believed that only strong women would give birth to strong children.

A newborn Spartiat was subjected to a strict selection before the Gerusia , the Spartan council of elders. The Gerusia decided whether he had the qualities of a future full citizen and whether he could stay alive. If the child was found to be unable to survive, they were abandoned or plunged off a cliff into the sea.

Up to the age of 7 or 8, boys and girls lived with their parents, then the boys were taken into a "flock", a group of their own age who had to unconditionally obey their commander.

Everyday life in such a community was marked by brutal hardening, while they also learned to read and write at the same time, but (very hard) physical training was preferred. At the age of 14, the "basic training" was over, but the physical drill continued. The goal was to maintain the military capability of the community, so the men were in almost permanent military training.

One form of training consisted of young Spartians stealing food in a competition. Anyone caught doing this was beaten for being too clumsy and for getting caught. Disobedience and offenses were also punished with beatings. They were also taught the art of debate. Your speeches should be as factual and short as possible. The expression “ laconic speech” is still used today .

The youth education lasted until the age of 18, even if the men were barracked until they were 30 and only then received full citizenship. The agoge supposedly ended with a ritual whereby the young men had their first real serious combat experience by attacking the helots . However, reports of this kind are only passed on from a later time, so that their truthfulness cannot be clarified without any problems.

Now the Spartians were accepted into so-called dining societies, the Syssitien (but there were similar dining communities in other parts of Greece). A food community, from which one could also be expelled if one was unable to raise one's contributions (in kind and probably also money) to the community, usually consisted of 15 men. The Syssitia also played an important social role, because in them the Spartians could debate current issues. Military service in the Spartan army was required up to the age of 60.

The girls also trained at an early age, because their task should be to bear as many children as possible who conform to the Spartan guidelines. However, they were also carefully instructed by their mother, who played a special role in the household due to the husband's long absence. The men, in turn, were encouraged to marry and have children, but the birth rate dropped dramatically over time.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. Thucydides : The Peloponnesian War. Reclam, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-15-001808-0 , p. 850 (translated and edited by Helmut Vretska and Werner Rinner).
  2. ^ Ernst Baltrusch: Sparta. Munich 1998, p. 30.
  3. ^ Ernst Baltrusch: Sparta. Munich 1998, pp. 15 and 31.
  4. Donald Kagan : The Peloponnesian War. Athens and Sparta in Savage Conflict 431-404 BC. HarperCollins, London 2003, ISBN 0-00-711505-9 , p. 4 (first published in the USA by Penguin Putnam 2003).