Ancient Sparta Essay

1664 words - 7 pages

History books have always said that the Spartans were "an armed camp," "brutal," "culturally stagnant," "economically stagnant," and "politically stagnant," ( This, of course is not necessarily the truth. Most of our written history about this time period comes from ancient Athens, which was dramatically opposed to Sparta's way of life. The two city-states were bitter enemies and history, because it is written by humans, can be very different from the truth. The Spartans, although a militaristic city-state, was not started out that way and was not totally bent on taking over the world.Lycurgos, the man given credit for the militarizing of the state of Sparta was not even born until 776 BC, and was not even the first man in his family to rule the great state of Sparta. Not only did Lycurgos' father, Eumenos, and brother, Polydektes, rule before him but so did his nephew, Charilaos. Lycurgos returned to Sparta to retake the throne from Charilaos, after having fled Polydektes' (and Charilaos' mother) widow in order to save his own life. He used a pair of dogs that he had bred: one indoors, with a variety of food; the other was bred outdoors and taught to hunt. He did this to prove that the indoor-bred dog was useless. This convinced the poor Spartan people to accept his laws, although it took the rich much more time to accept them. When these laws were finally accepted fully, the Spartans vowed never to change them until Lycurgos left and returned. On this note Lycurgos left and made certain that not even his dead body would return ( believed that one's life should be like that of the outdoor-bred dog. One should not live a life of luxury or they would wind up being useless, just like the indoor-bred dog. He felt that education should start at a young age and extend throughout a person's life. This education should not only be an academic one, but one mostly filled with physical training and self-discipline. "In Sparta modesty and obedience ever go hand in hand, nor is there a lack of either," ( males had a far different education than that the Spartan women, this is not to say that it was any simpler or any more difficult. They were subject to an inspection upon birth. If he is deemed in good condition and thought to be capable of living a good life and being able to serve the state he was allowed to live, if not he was left in the hills to die of exposure. Once a child was deemed acceptable, he would be given back to his mother. At the age of seven the Spartan male would be taken from his mother and lived in the barracks with the rest of the boys, under the supervision of the paidonomos who was elected by the children's parents. Here he would live for twenty-three years, enduring many different forms of education, the least of which was academic. At this point a boys life became one of discipline, self-denial, and simplicity. It was thought that luxuries, expensive food and leisure would...

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