To simply say Ancient Greece had a diverse culture would not give justice to the truly rich and even contrasting societies that developed in the classical city-state. One of the most unique civilizations to prosper in the ancient time period were the Spartans. The Spartans held customs, beliefs, and traditions unlike any other Greek city-state. These uncommon practices and philosophies largely governed the lifestyle of a Spartan citizen from birth until death. Spartan culture was considerably a militaristic one, and great emphasis was placed on the lifelong dedication of training to be a Spartan soldier. It is arguable that this Spartan way of life was the key to Sparta’s powerful and victorious civilization in ancient times.
To understand the Spartans’ culture and way of life, it is important to first understand the history of Sparta. Geographically speaking, Sparta is of prime location on the Peloponnese peninsula, with both natural resources and natural defense present. To the East of Sparta lies Mt. Parnon and to the West, Mt. Taygete, surrounding the city-state in a natural fortress. Sparta was founded on the Evrotas River, which provided fresh water. Sparta also had access to the Laconian Gulf via a harbor Gytheio. This geographic location substantially contributed to the Spartans defense against invading enemies.
The founding of Sparta varies by sources, from the mythical to historical stories. Tradition believes that the son of Zeus, Lacedaemon, established the city-state, naming Sparta after his wife. Historians believe the factual beginning of Sparta was after the land was invaded and conquered by the Dorians. This invasion is believed to have taken place around 10,000 B.C., although the Spartans reached their prime much later around the 6th-4th century (Halsall). The Spartans in their prime were a much different culture from the other ancient Greeks. Some unique differences can be examined as the reasons behind the Spartans power and dominance of the classical times.
The Spartans lived a very meager life in comparison to the other Greek cultures. The Spartans were not concerned with luxurious items and trivial possessions. A man’s wealth was in the land he owned. However, the typical Spartan male was dedicated to life of a soldier and therefore could not be bothered with the manual labor of tending to his fields. The land was worked by the Helots, or slaves, the Spartans captured in battle. Helots were required to work in the field and return the productions to the owner of the land. This enabled the Spartan male to remain focused and dedicated to his true profession of a soldier.
Spartan children lived an extremely different lifestyle, if they were even allowed to live at all. When a new child is born, they are judged by the elders council of the city, called the Gerousia. The Gerousia would decide if the newborn was fit and strong enough to be granted the right to live. If a baby was deemed weak or deformed,...