A Brief History of the Ins and Outs of Sparta
By Nick

“This is Sparta!” Sparta was one of the most powerful Greek city-stats because of their strong army, which consisted of most of the Sparta male population. Spartans would rather die in battle than come home defeated. Their government was an usual structure and has not been seen really anywhere else, but this contributed to the strength of Sparta. Although Sparta had a great run being the top of their class, they were defeated in 371 B.C. The surrounding area was “koili
Lacedaemon” were King Menelaos and the husband of Helen of troy ruled. Because of Homer, we know that this nearby land was between Sparta and Argos. Sparta was a very powerful ancient Greek city sate, with the superior army of its time, intense training for men, and different morals for life and government than normal.

Sparta was an ancient Greek city-state that was founded around 1,200 B.C. by the Dorians. Legend is our best resource for information of Sparta’s founding though. We think that Lacedaemon and Taygete were the founders Sparta, but there is no way of knowing this for sure. Lacedaemon was the son of Zeus and Thygete was the man who married Sparta, the women. Sparta was located in the southern part of Greece and was a peninsula. When the Dorians conquered Sparta, they divided it into four towns; Cynosura, Myesoa, Limnae, and Pitana. In 950 BC Sparta became the powerful city-state that we think of today, because the army became stronger and had more confidence than before. During this time the Dorinas became strong enough to expand, because of their strong army. Thus, Sparta became the most powerful city-state in Greece of its time and this resulted many enemies. Sparta’s greatest rival was Athens, and
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Sparta will prove to be more powerful than them. Furthermore, in the end this will come at a steep price to Sparta ( Garland p. 9, history-world.org/sparta, sikyon.com/index, h2g2.com, aroundgreece.com).

The life of male Spartans belonged to the government from the time when they were born to the time they died. This was one of the views of the Spartan Government, that all life belonged to them. Life was not as intense for females as it was for males though. When a baby boy was born the town elders would inspect that child and the weak or unhealthy ones would be tossed of a cliff to their death. This was done because they wanted the strongest males for their army because all Spartan menwent into the army. Once a boy turned seven, he would be taken from his mom and be placed into military training. In the training camps the boys would focused on military skills and gymnastics. Boys were also taught to steal food fore themselves. Stealing food for themselves was done to teach them discipline and so that they could fight for themselves when they became older. If a child was caught while stealing food, it resulted in harsh punishment and whippings. At the age of twenty men would be put into more vigorous training, and soon they would be ready for the real army. Spartan men were able to marry, but they could not live with their wife of family. They did not have much time to be with their family because of there training. The life of males would finally become less vigorous when they turned 60,because they could retire but living to 60 back then was unusual. Male Spartan’s were basically slaves to their government ( h2g2.com, sikyon.com, history-world.org, sparta.net).

Sparta prided themselves in their army. This was because the life of men was almost forever part of the army, making it the strongest component of Sparta. Sparta was the only ancient greek city state that did not have a city wall, this was because the men were to protect the citizens. Defeat was not tolerable to the Spartan army. Loosing was a huge disgrace to Spartans to extent that they would rather be killed in battle than come home defeated. The Spartan warfare was superior to many armies of its time. They were able to defeat much larger armies than themselves. The most famous battle that Sparta fought was the battle of Thermopylae, where 300 spartans fought an defeated an entire persian army. Other than the training that they used, Spartans used a specific combination of weapons, they carried an eight foot spear called a doru, a short sword for hacking and stabbing and, their iconic bronze helmet. The Spartan army is
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undoubtably the most recognized aspect of Sparta ( history-world.org/sparta, Boardman p.123-4, sikyon.com, ancientmilitary.com/sparta, plaza.ufl.edu,).

The Spartan government had a very unusual structure. They originally had five Ephors that had divided powers, and one king. The Ephors had enough power to veto the kings decisions and even remove the king from power. This was more like having five dictators, so it eventually fell and the new government was born. The new structure of government had two kings with equal power. This was though to have started because there were originally two brother, Eurysthenes and Euryphon, and they were both twins. The legend goes that the mother did not know which brother was older, thus they would not know who was next in line for the throne. The council of Sparta was not able to see who was more fit for the throne, so they both became kings with equal power. Underneath the two kings was a council of 28 noble men. The noble men were all over 60, and retired military. The council made laws, acted as the supreme court, and governed foreign policy. This was a very strange combination of power, but lasted until the end of Sparta. Although it was an interesting type of government it was able to pull Sparta through about 800 years of victorious moments ( h2g2.com, pbs.org/empires).

The fall of Sparta came quickly after a great victory of Sparta. From 431-404 B.C. Sparta was at war with it greatest rival Athens. Not only was Sparta fighting Athens, they were fighting Athens alliances, which was most of Greece. In 404 B.C. Sparta was victorious, but after the long war Sparta was down many men, and they were much weaker than normal. In 371 BC Sparta had only 1,000 soldiers left, as opposed to their 9,000 a couple hundred years previous. Sparta went into war with Thebes, called the battle of Leucra. In the end Sparta lost, and many citizens fled and were not stopped due to the lack of authority. Macedonia was now in charge of Sparta, and in 206 B.C. Sparta was once again invaded. This time it was by the Romans ( historynet.com, h2g2.com).
The long legacy of Sparta was because of its difference from many other counties and government types. They were able to last almost 1,000 years which is already lots longer than U.S. Their interesting way of life, firm military persistence, and morals, is what pushed them so far. Although Sparta looked like they had a fascinating life, it would have been a horrible lifestyle and would be completely frowned upon in todays society.

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