The "Spartans," who were they, where did they come from and what did
they accomplish for Greece and, in time modern society. All these
questions I hope to answer in my investigation. I found the Spartan,
very interesting when I first encountered them in "The Odyssey" by
Homer, where we hear of "Helen of Sparta," the partner of both "Paris
of Troy" and his enemy and his city's enemy "Menelaus of Sparta."
The entire war in fact broke out because Helen ran away with Paris and
the whole of Greece was dragged into what at first was a personal
feud. Had this not happened none of the Odyssey would have taken place
and the old fable like story, as it seems to have developed, of the
giant wooden horse outside the city walls of Troy at the end of Trojan
war. Therefore, in only looking at one person in Spartan history we
can see how much the city affected our modern society.
Although Athens is one of the most interesting and exciting ancient
cities according to some modern scholars, interest in Sparta is
becoming greater and greater and this is clear by looking at such
recent TV series as Channel Four's "Sparta," researched and presented
by Bethany Hughes. In addition, I must add that it is not all of a
sudden this interest has occurred but it has gradually grown and more
and more books are being published all the time, debating the ways of
life in Sparta.
Where is Sparta?
Sparta is in the southern, mountainous regions of Greece. In addition,
as you can see from the diagram, it was, and still is, fairly close to
its neighbouring cities Mystras especially. [IMAGE]
In fact the word "Sparta" is actually often used to refer to the whole
of the southern half of the Pepoponnese, (the whole peninsula of
Southern Greece) but this is politically incorrect.
And the name "Spartans" is sometimes used to refer to "all" the people
who lived in this area. Why, you may ask. Well this is because this
whole area, which contains Laconia and Messenia, was in truth ruled by
the Spartans. But strictly speaking the name "Sparta" refers only to
the city situated by the river Eurotas, which flows through Laconia,
and the term "Spartans" refers solely to the people who belonged to
that city (It was also known as 'Lacedaemon').
Sparta was not built around a high and defensible hill or citadel, as
most Greek cities were; and the Spartans never built walls around
their city, as the Athenians had done, for example. The reasoning for
this was the fact the Spartans would have originally have relied on
their natural surroundings. Although the city itself is in the river
valley where crops could be raised successfully on the plains, between
this valley and the rest of Greece is a line of rocky and mountainous
land. The Spartans, then, were less worried than the...