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Sparta, without any exaggeration, was the most powerful state of Ancient Greece. According to historical documents, all other Greeks admired the strength of the Spartan warriors – it seemed that they could defeat anyone. All their strength was the result of a harsh upbringing and an extremely unusual structure of the capital. But the rest of the Greeks did not want to adopt their traditions, because even in those days Spartan customs seemed too cruel both to the inhabitants of Sparta themselves and to their opponents.
In this article, we will talk about exactly how Spartan children were brought up and became fearless warriors, about the importance of Spartan women and other features of the ancient state. Believe me, you will probably hear about some facts for the first time.
How Sparta became the most powerful state
The ancient state of Sparta appeared in the 11th century BC and at first was very weak and poor. However, everything changed after the appearance of the legislator Lycurgus – he came up with such harsh rules that the state simply could not help but become strong. Thanks to innovations, the once weak Sparta was able to defeat neighboring Messinia and become the owner of its fertile lands.
All the power of Sparta was the result of her special internal structure. During his travels, the legislator Lycurgus of Sparta noticed that the strength of the state is mainly determined by the cohesion of the people and the willingness of citizens to sacrifice themselves for its well-being. Realizing this, the legislator turned Sparta into a huge military camp, in the heart of which a small number of ordinary people lived. Free artisans were called perieks, and peasants were called helots.
How did the Spartans live?
The inhabitants of Sparta were limited in everything – such measures were needed so that they would not be spoiled by the money and influence of other peoples. In order for the people to be united, they were forbidden to travel. The Spartans could only see other states during military attacks on foreign lands. Also, Sparta did not like guests – strangers were not allowed into the city because they could impose their “destructive” traditions on the inhabitants. Dramaturgy, science and art were banned, with the exception of music. However, it also represented only military marches.
Instead of the small and light coins used in the rest of Greece, the Spartans used heavy pieces of iron. Thus, the state did not allow residents to experience luxury. Under the ban were even inscriptions on tombstones. The honor of being buried with a personalized plate was given only to the strongest warriors and rulers. Also in Sparta there was a ban on the use of alcohol. So that children from an early age knew about the destructive effect of alcohol, the owners gave the slaves wine to drink and showed what a terrible state drunkenness leads to.
What were Spartan women like?
Spartan women were the freest in all of ancient Greece. Their main goal was the birth of healthy children, so they carefully monitored their health and actively went in for sports. The size of the Spartan army and the health of the men included in it directly depended on women. Therefore, Spartan women were treated with great respect. The women of Sparta were brash in communication, highly developed physically, and could even command their husbands.
How were Spartan children raised?
Spartan male children went to the army at the age of 7. In the military camps, they were not given clothes and were forced to sleep on vines they collected with their own hands. They were also hardly fed – they had to get food by stealing. It was believed that this teaches children cunning and dexterity. On the one hand, stealing was encouraged, but on the other hand, if a boy was caught doing it, he was severely punished. In general, in order to survive, children had to willy-nilly become cunning.
The education of Spartan children included lessons in handling weapons like swords and spears. They were also taught to run as fast as possible and fight with bare hands. So that the boys were not afraid of blood, they were sent to cryptia – the so-called night raids on the villages of slaves, during which it was allowed to commit murders. Now you understand why the Spartans, even in those days, were considered unnecessarily cruel?
As you can see, the Spartans were really harsh warriors. There is a myth that weak children in ancient Greece were thrown off a cliff – it’s just a myth.