Daily Life in Ancient Sparta
Sparta, also called Lacedaemon, was a city in ancient Greece, and one of the most famous ancient Greek cities of the Peloponnesus. Found in the hills of Mount Taygetus many would consider was a brutal group of militaristic people. Although, this to some extent may be true most of the written information was derived from the ancient city-state of Athens, who were great enemies of the Spartan society.
After the Messenian war the Spartan people moved into the Taygetus mountains and there they would set up what would eventually become the military government of Sparta. Almost defeated, but maintaining the control of the territory the Spartans invented a new political system by turning their state into a military state. By making this dramatic change it in essence changed the everyday living styles of each individual living in the Spartan society.
There were three classes of people in Sparta. Spartan citizens or Spartiate, or Native Spartan, who could trace is ancestry back to the original inhabitants of the city. Who lived in the city-state itself and, who alone had full political and legal rights and also having a voice in government, devoted their entire time to the military training.
The peroikoi, or "dwellers-round," who lived in the surrounding village, were free but had no political rights. These were foreign people who served as a kind of buffer population between the Spartans and the helots. They were tradesmen and mechanics because occupations of the Spartans were forbidden. Because of their vital function in society, they were allotted a great deal of freedom. Most of the trade and commerce carried out in Sparta were preformed by the Perioeci.
At the bottom was the lowest class that they called the helots. They were agricultural serfs not much better than slaves. They worked small plots of land on estates owned by the Spartans, part of their produce went to the master of the estate, and the remainder was to the helot and his family. The helots lived a miserable life for they were laboring hard and treated poorly. The helots, whose marriages and children were not so strictly controlled by the state, were the largest class and hated their masters. The only reason that the helots stayed under the control of the Spartans was due to their strong military government that discouraged any rebellion.
The Spartan government was an odd type of government, but it overwhelmingly was one of stability. The Spartans, in fact, had the most stable government in the history of ancient Greece. Two kings who ruled jointly as a dual monarchy headed the Spartan government. They serve as high priests and leaders in war. Each king acted as a check on the other. There was something comparable to a cabinet composed of five Ephors, or overseers, who exercised general guardianship over law and custom and in later times came to have an even greater power. The legislative power was established in the...