Sparta is a town located south of the Arcadian highlands in Greece. One of a number of townships that arose on the Laconia plain was Sparta, which consisted of Pitane, Mesoa, Limnae, and Conoura, all small villages. Sparta then conquered other nearby villages and took over the plain of Laconia. Sparta, which may mean scattered, was made up of homes and estates spread around an area centering on a small hill that came to be named Acropolis.
Sparta was unwalled, unlike other ancient cities, until after 200 B. C. The Messenian Wars The continuing expansion led Sparta to Northeast of Mt. Parnon to defeat the plain of Thyrea, but the Argives defeated the Spartans at the Battle of Hysiae. Sparta lost interest in that area for more than 100 years. The expansion led toward the west into Messenia a plain which was settled by the Dorians. A nineteen year war began and the Spartans won. Then Messenia gave Sparta their extensive land, and when Messenia combined with Laconia, the area was appropriately called Lacedaemon. Boys Trained as Fighters Sparta was run like an army camp, life was very competitive, and the people lived like savages.
This way of iving was extremely different than the lives of the people that lived in other Greek communities because they feared that the helots, or their slaves, would revolt as well as other enemies. Spartans were tough people who raised their children to be tough as well. The boys had to walk around barefoot, and in cold weather they were allowed to wear only one cloak. They were starved and told to steal food, but if they got caught they were beaten. This was to teach them to steal more efficiently in the future.
The whip was part of the upbringing in Sparta, and it was used on younger oys by the older ones during stealing competitions. Helots were slaves that greatly outnumbered the Spartans, and the teaching the children to received was teach the boys to hunt runaway helots. This involves staying in the countryside undetected for days and stealing food to survive. Strength and courage are necessary traits for the boys to possess in battles against enemies from other states. They learn to fear authority and do what they are told so that when they are in battle they will not argue commands.
In other Greek cities, the elderly were not given as much power and respect as in Sparta. Spartan girls also trained in athletics. They were involved in running, jumping, wrestling, and throwing the discus and the javelin. This was so that they could raise strong healthy children. Why Spartans despised Family Life Boys do not always go home to their families at night, and young married couples were not allowed to be seen with one another in public. Wife and husband were not meant to become close. Men of all ages ate in military messes and woman were not around.
That was because the differences created from being raised in separate families can make people dislike one another. Families tend to be loyal to themselves, and this can lead to fighting with other families. If that happened, Sparta would become vulnerable to the helots and their other enemies. Encouraging Bravery by Scorning Weakness Spartans were banned from heavy drinking because this would allow the helots a chance to revolt. All other Greek cities had relaxed and happy times because they did not have the Spartan s worries, and they had religious festivals with mass drunkenness.
Humiliation was a common practice to teach younger citizens. A man who failed to go into battle and fight bravely as made to shave only one side of his face and grow a beard on the other so he could be laughed at and scorned. The Peloponnesian War Athens wanted to create one state of all the city-states and make Athens the capital of all of Greece. Their navy started to attack cities to force them to join Athenian empire. Sparta refused to join the Delian League, and Sparta, with the help of other supporters, formed the Peloponnesian League. The Peloponnesian War lasted for twenty-seven years.
Finally, a Spartan general, Lysander, defeated the Athenian fleet by a surprise attack in the arbor at Aegospotami on the Hellespont. Lysander then sailed to Piraeus, a place where strong city walls linked the city with the harbor, and his ships stopped food from getting to Athens. The starvation caused by this action forced Athens to surrender in 404 B. C. When the war was over, the city-states were happy to be free of the harsh rule of the Athenian empire, until they realized that they were in a far worse situation then before. Spartan were harsh rulers who were not believers in democracy.
The city-states rebelled and the powerful Spartans were defeated for the very first ime by a smaller army in the year 371 B. C. The Three Classes of the Spartan State The three classes were the Spartiatai, or true Spartans, the perioikoi, made up of the inhabitants of federated towns that surrounded the city of Sparta, and the Helots. Only the Spartiatai had voting privileges and a say in the government. The perioikoi carried on the necessary trade and industry of the country. They were not involved in the government, but did have certain rights. The Helots carried on all the daily work and Sparta was able to concentrate on military training.