Sparta, an ancient city-state in Greece, was once a dominant force in the region. Today, it is a small town with a population of around 16,700 people. Let’s explore 20 interesting facts about Sparta, its culture, and history.
Education for Spartan Girls
1. Spartan girls went to school at the age of seven. While their school wasn’t as rigorous as the boys’, they still did athletics and exercise to maintain good health. It was crucial for the women to stay in shape to have strong sons who could fight for Sparta.
Army Life for Young Spartans
2. At the age of seven, young Spartans were taken from their homes to start living in the army. They received rigorous training to prepare them for a life of war.
Women’s Rights in Sparta
3. Women in Sparta had more freedom and education than most of the Greek city-states of that time. They were allowed to own property, run businesses, and participate in athletic events.
Harsh Living Conditions
4. The Spartans lived in harsh conditions without luxuries to make them tough warriors. They were trained to live off the land and survive in challenging environments.
Formation of Sparta
5. Sparta was formed around the 9th century BC. Its power peaked in the 5th century BC but quickly declined. In 272 BC, Sparta was weak and under the control of other world powers.
6. After the Persian Wars, Sparta went to war with Athens in the Peloponnesian War. The two city-states fought from 431 BC to 404 BC, and Sparta was eventually victorious over Athens. Sparta began to decline in the following years and lost the Battle of Leuctra with Thebes in 371 BC but remained an independent city-state until Greece was conquered by the Roman Empire in 146 BC.
Military Training for Spartan Citizens
7. Spartans became soldiers at age 20, citizens at age 30, and retired at age 60. They trained hard to become warriors of the Spartan army.
Unique Government System
8. Sparta had its own system of government, which was very different from other city-states. The government was divided between two kings, the Gerousia, and the Congregation.
Physical Fitness for Spartans
9. Spartans had to be in shape and ready to fight until the age of 60. Their training focused on physical fitness and strength.
Fearless and Efficient Warriors
10. The Spartans were known for being fearless, strong, and efficient warriors. They built their society around military power and domination. The citizens of Athens both feared and praised the strength and military power of the Spartans.
11. The term “Spartan” is often used to describe something simple or without convenience. This stems from the lifestyle of the ancient Spartans, who valued discipline and self-control over luxury.
12. Most Spartan citizens were either perioci, who paid taxes, served in the army, and were protected by Spartan laws, or Iloks, people from the lands conquered and ruled by Sparta, who had no rights.
Direct Descendants of Hercules
13. The Spartans considered themselves direct descendants of the Greek hero Hercules, a source of great pride and inspiration for their military prowess.
14. In military art, the Spartans were known for their Spartan shield, which had small holes in the sides through which spears could be hoarded.
15. Laconophilia is love or affection for Spartan and Spartan culture. Sparta was often admired, and many of the
Spartan Land and Helots
16. Spartan society was based on a class system, with the Spartans at the top and the helots at the bottom. The helots were a group of enslaved people who farmed the land for the Spartans. They had to give half of their crops to their Spartan masters.
The Phalanx Formation
17. The Spartans were famous for their military tactics, particularly their use of the phalanx formation during battles. In this formation, the front row of soldiers would combine their shields to form a wall of armor and shield. They would then move together in unison on command, while the second row used spears.
18. The Spartan government was unique in that it was ruled by two kings who had equal power. There was also a council of five called the Ephors who guarded the kings. Laws were created by a council of 30 elders, which included two kings.
The Battle of Thermopylae
19. Perhaps the most famous battle involving the Spartans was the Battle of Thermopylae. This battle was fought between the Spartan King Leonidas and the Persian army of Xerxes I during the second Persian invasion. The Persians marched towards Sparta, but Leonidas and his army met them at the pass of Thermopylae. The Spartans held their ground and repelled the Persians for two days. However, on the third day, the Spartans were betrayed by another Greek who informed Xerxes about a route around the pass.
The Spartan Diet
20. The Spartan diet was simple and consisted mainly of barley, wine, and black broth. The black broth was made from boiled pigs’ legs, blood, and vinegar. The Spartans believed that a simple diet would make them stronger and healthier.