Estimates for the total number of troops the Greeks brought to the Battle of Plataea come in around 80,000, as compared to the 110,000. Leotychidas II (c. 491 -469 BCE) – helped lead Sparta during the Greco-Persian War, taking over for Leonidas I when he died at the Battle of Thermopylae. This is Sparta: Fierce warriors of the ancient world - Craig Zimmer, Spartan forces under Cleomenes I attack the, A force of Athenian peltasts defeat Spartan hoplites on Sphaktria in the, Spartan soldiers return from campaigning Thrace, some as, Athenian leader Iphikrates employs peltasts to defeat Spartan hoplites at Lechaion near, Amazons of Black Sparta, 2nd Edition: The Women Warriors of Dahomey, The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. In 2015, a 10-room palace complex containing ancient records written in a script that archaeologists call \"linear B\" was discovered just 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) from where the city of Sparta was built. He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the Publishing Director at AHE. Spartan leadership made changes to the policy that helots had to return to harvest each year, and they also established a base at Decelea, in Attica. It is not merely that communism in Sparta was a communism in use, others having produced. In this theory, the Dorians rose to prominence taking advantage of turmoil amongst the Achaean-led Mycenaeans. The era of classical Sparta had ended. The armies of Sparta have gone down as some of the most impressive of all time. Last modified May 28, 2013. Furthermore, he fought in a phalanx, which is an array of soldiers designed to create a strong line of defense by having each soldier protect not only himself but the soldier sitting next to him using a shield. While Sparta was technically a monarchy governed by two kings, one each from the Agiad and Eurypontid families, these kings were relegated over time to positions that most closely resembled generals. Some theories suggest the Dorians were nomadic pastoralists who gradually made their way south as the land changed and resource needs shifted, whereas others believe the Dorians had always existed in the Peloponnese but were oppressed by the ruling Achaeans. Sparta grew to rival the size of the city-states Athens and Thebes by subjugating its neighboring region of Messenia. Athens also lent support to Argos, but then the Corinthians withdrew. Sparta grew to rival the size of the city-states Athens and Thebes by subjugating its neighboring region of Messenia. Sparta in located in the region of Laconia, referred to in ancient times as Lacedaemon, which makes up most of the southwestern Peloponnese, the largest and southernmost peninsula of the Greek mainland. However, he failed, and knowing he would face punishment from the Persians, he called on his fellow Greeks to revolt against the Persians, which they did, and which the Athenians and the Eritreans, and to a lesser extent Spartan citizens, supported. It was founded by the Dorian tribes living in the region, but interestingly, Sparta came into existence not as a new city but rather as an agreement between four villages in the Eurotas Valley, Limnai, Kynosoura, Meso, and Pitana, to merge into one entity and combine forces. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. Before the Persian King Darius I could launch a second invasion of Greece, he died, and his son, Xerxes, took over as the Persian sovereign in c. 486 BCE. However, by 387 BCE, it was clear that no side would be able to gain an advantage, so the Persians were once again called in to help negotiate peace. This evidence is mostly from the classical period and later, but many of the laws and customs we know of probably date back to the archaic period. It offered support to Corinth and Elis by helping remove a tyrant from the Corinthian throne, and this formed the basis of an alliance that would eventually be known as The Peloponnesian League,  a loose, Spartan-led alliance between the various Greek city states on the Peloponnese that was intended to provide for mutual defense. This history, plus the poor treatment the Spartans gave to the helots, made them a frequent problem in Spartan society. Whether or not the Dorians who later founded Sparta truly came from northern Greece as part of an invasion or if they simply migrated for survival reasons, Dorian pastoralist culture is ingrained into the early moments of Spartan history. However, unlike their neighbors to the north, Athens, Sparta was hardly a cultural epicenter. Specifically, the treaty stated that if there was a conflict between the two, either one had the right to demand it be settled over arbitration, and if this happened, the other would have to agree too. Revolts broke out frequently, and this is what eventually led to the next round of conflict between Sparta and Messenia. In addition to local politics, from the 6th century BCE Sparta began to broaden her horizons by, for example, creating an alliance with Croesus of Lydia and sending an expedition against Polycrates of Samos in c. 525 BCE. The Spartan political system was unusual in that it had two hereditary kings from two separate families. Before the Persians were defeated, the Spartans had to kill a lot of Persians. Bar-Hen, E., "Le parti de la paix à Sparte à la veille de la guerre du Péloponnese," Ancient Society … This made it difficult to replace fallen Spartan soldiers, and by the Battle of Leuctra, the Spartan force was smaller than it had ever been. 1.1 The geographical setting, natural features and resources of ancient Sparta 1.2 Significant sites: Sparta 2. The Spartan phalanxes were unstoppable on land and known for their professionalism and discipline. He had fought with the Spartans in the Battle of Coronea in 394 BC. These women were allowed to learn reading and writing. Facts about Ancient Sparta 4: Sparta and Athens. In antiquity, time periods were recorded by the names of the ephors on a list that dated back to 754 bc. The kings were also priests of Zeus and they sat on the council of elders known as the gerousia. They began to form alliances with other cities in Greece in preparation for what they feared was an imminent attack by the Spartans. The legacy of Sparta and her impact on Western civilization is perhaps less obvious than that of Athens. One of the Spartan kings, Lysander, saw this opportunity and decided to exploit it. Sparta was a city-state located in the southeastern Peloponnese region of ancient Greece. Ancient authors, such as Herodotus and Aristotle, wrote of Lycurgus as a historical figure who handed down the laws of Sparta after consulting the will of Gods. The leading theory about why this was the case deals with the founding of Sparta. Spartan boys were also instructed in academics, warfare, stealth, hunting and athletics. Athens and Argos also decided to join the fight, pitting Sparta up against almost the entire Greek world. He knew most of the Athenian grain passed through this stretch of water, and that taking it would devastate Athens. The gerousia led the citizen assembly, probably proposing issues on which to vote and it was also the highest court in Sparta. The narrow Pass of Thermopylae is guarded by the sea to one side and tall mountains to another, leaving a space of just 15m (~50ft) of passable territory. The Spartan people or the Lacedaemonians as they would also be known divided their social structure into three basic classes. The Lacedaemon Valley, Sparta. Reputedly founded in the 9th century bce with a rigid oligarchic constitution, the state of Sparta for centuries retained as lifetime corulers two kings who arbitrated in time of war. This type of government is called an oligarchy. Four years later, in 427 BCE, they finally broke through, but the war had changed considerably by then. The city of Sparta was founded by Dorians, and they worked to construct a myth that credited this demographic change with an orchestrated invasion of the Peloponnese by Dorians from the north of Greece, the region where it is believed the Doric dialect first developed. Some records indicate Spartan leaders pointed to a long-standing rivalry between the two cultures, which may have existed considered most Spartan citizens were Dorian and the Messenians were Aeolians. Bradford, Alfred S. Leonidas and the Kings of Sparta: Mightiest Warriors, Fairest Kingdom. Some artisanry did exist, but we see nothing in terms of philosophic or scientific advancements like those that came out of Athens in the final century B.C. With Athens surrendering, Sparta was free to do as it wished with the city. While the city of Sparta wasn't constructed until the first millennium B.C., recent archaeological discoveries show that Sparta was an important site at least as far back as 3,500 years ago. This became obvious in the first decade of the 5th century B.C, a period known as the Ionian Revolt, which was put into motion by a man named Aristagoras. First, population growth resulting from the fertile land of the Eurotas Valley meant that Sparta was growing too big and needed to expand, and second, Messenia was perhaps the only region in ancient Greece with land that was more fertile and productive than that in Laconia. This outraged Thebes and the Theban envoy left the conference, leaving all parties unsure if the war was still on. Routledge, 2004. Agis I (c. 930 BCE-900 BCE) – known for leading the Spartans in subjugating the territories of Laconia. However, seeing the fighting was likely going nowhere, both sides agreed to a peace treaty, known as The Thirty Years’ Peace, in c. 446 BCE. Sparta functioned under an oligarchy of two hereditary kings. Those Messenians who had not been executed as a result of their insurrection were once again forced to become helots, ending the Second Messenian War and giving Sparta near total control over the southern half of the Peloponnese. There were foreigners (xenoi) in Spartan society but these were not as welcome as in other city-states, and those that did live in Sparta were sometimes forcibly expelled by their overly suspicious and at times positively paranoid hosts. However, people had been living in the area where Sparta would be founded starting in the Neolithic Era, which dates back some 6,000 years. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. The First Peloponnesian War was more of a series of skirmishes and battles than an outright war. Sparta was the only ancient Greek polis where girls were allowed to receive a full-scale education. Because of their history and significance to society, Sparta’s two kings still played an important role in helping Sparta rise to power and become the significant city state it was, despite their role being limited by the formation of the gerousia. Here, Sparta lost the Battle of Tangara, which meant Athens was able to take control over much of Boeotia. The Spartan phalanxes were unstoppable on land and known for their professionalism and discipline. But it also had its dark side. Power was held onto by an oligarchic faction, and individual freedoms for non-Spartans were severely restricted, although Spartan women may have had much better conditions than women living in other parts of the ancient Greek world. To demonstrate to the youth how not to act and to give a lesson of self-control, the Spartans would … In total, the Greek city states amassed an army of about 30,000 hoplites, 10,000 of whom were Spartan citizens. Spartan society was separated into social classes, and conquered people were not given political rights or citizenship. But again, there is not enough evidence to fully prove or disprove this theory, yet no one can deny that Dorian influence in the region greatly intensified during the early centuries of the last millennium BCE, and these Dorian roots would help set the stage for the founding of the city of Sparta and the development of a highly-militaristic culture that would eventually become a major player in the ancient world. To become a Spartan soldier, Spartan men had to undergo training at the agoge, a specialized military school designed to train the Spartan army. To give you an idea of how important this was to early-Dorian culture, consider that the names of the first few recorded Spartan kings translate from Greek into: “Strong Everywhere, “(Eurysthenes), “Leader” (Agis), and “Heard Afar” (Eurypon). Ancient Sparta was a society of contrasts, one in which the qualities of loyalty and equality among the few were heavily dependent on the enslavement of the many. While the city was founded in the 8th or 9th century B.C, the golden age of Sparta lasted roughly from the end of the 5th century – the first Persian invasion of ancient Greece – until the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BCE. By defeating Athens, Sparta took control of many of the territories previously controlled by Athenians, giving birth to the first ever Spartan empire. In the end, he was right, and Athens knew it. Young and old, male or female, athletics would be something that everyone in Sparta would be involved in. Sparta was one of the most important Greek city-states throughout the Archaic and Classical periods and was famous for its military prowess. This finally became apparent during the Battle of Leuctra, which we now see as the beginning of the end for Sparta. Routledge, 2002. Athenian leadership had been following a policy for many years that it was better to be the ruler than the ruled, which provided justification for sustained imperial expansion. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. The ancient culture of Greece had enriched the world civilisation. They also helped advice the kings in various m… Continued Spartan ambitions in central and northern Greece, Asia Minor, and Sicily once again dragged the city into another protracted conflict, the Corinthian Wars with Athens, Thebes, Corinth, and Persia from 396 to 387 BCE. The Persians, who replaced the Assyrians as the Mesopotamian hegemon in the 7th century B.C, spent most of the 6th century BCE campaigning throughout western Asia and northern Africa and had built an empire that was at the time one of the largest in the entire world, and their presence would change the course of Spartan history forever. This means that Sparta was free to ransack Attica, but their largely-helot armies never made it to the city of Athens since they were required to periodically return home to tend to their crops. According to Aristotle, they killed some 5 percent of the city’s population, dramatically changing the course of history and earning Sparta the reputation of being undemocratic. There was also a council of five men called the ephors who watched over the kings. A massive earthquake struck the city state in c. 464 BCE, devastating the population. The Spartans killed weak children. He worked to get 30 aristocrats with Spartan ties elected in Athens, and then he oversaw a harsh rule meant to punish the Athenians. It may also explain Sparta’s reputation as being a conservative state slow to make decisions in foreign policy. While riding through the Northern Aegean, Brasidas managed to convince the Greek cities previously loyal to Athens to defect to the Spartans by speaking of the corrupt imperial ambitions of the Athenian-led city states of the Delian League. Spartan citizens were also considered to be at the top of the Spartan social order, and below them were helots and other non-citizens. He amassed an army of nearly 180,000 men, a massive force for the time, and gather ships from all over the empire, mainly Egypt and Phoenicia, to build an equally impressive fleet. In the years after the Battle of Pylos, it looked like Sparta may have fallen, but two things changed. For now their lives were dedicated to the military. New York: Viking, 2003. Facts about Ancient Sparta 3: the Greco-Persian Wars. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. However, shortly after the beginning of the final millennium BCE, civilization once again began to flourish, and the city of Sparta was to play a pivotal role in the ancient history of the region and the world. However, this decision to enslave the population meant that Spartan control in the region was loose at best. There has been some recent historical debate about the distortion of Spartan society in the ancient sources. However, thinking their fearless leader had won, the Messenian helots launched a full-scale revolt, and Aristomenes managed to lead a short campaign into Laconia. Sparta’s position as the number one city-state in Greece, though, was to be short-lived. Reduced by constant wars in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, the Spartan hoplites (homoioi) became dangerously small in number (8,000 in 490 BCE to 700 in 371 BCE), so much so, that non-Spartiate soldiers had to be enlisted and their loyalty and interest in Sparta’s ambitions was questionable. On the top of the pyramid of the Spartan hierarchy came the two kings who ruled the city together.Besides the 2 main kinds, there were 28 other members who were known as the council of elders. However, in doing this, they escalated tensions even further. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. Get facts about ancient Persia here. And while these may be exaggerations of what life was really like in Spartan history, it’s difficult to overstate Spartan significance in ancient history as well as the development of world culture. During this time of Persian expansion, ancient Greece had also risen in power, but in a different way. Sparta. Archaeological evidence, however, suggests that Sparta itself was a new settlement created from the 10th century BCE. They failed, and thanks to the support of the Spartans and the Corinthians, Syracuse remained independent. To be a member of these already exclusive leading parties, one had to be a Spartan citizen, and only Spartan citizens could vote for the gerousia. This is because the city was really governed by the ephors and gerousia. Though Sparta absorbed this population, it did not integrate the conquered people into society. But is this the case or is this a force-fed misconception due to centuries of misrepresentation? The lands it controlled were called Laconia and Messenia. The raids into Attica had rendered the territory surrounding Athens almost entirely unproductive, and this meant they were entirely dependent on their trade network in the Aegean to get them the basic supplies for life. The gerousia was a council of 28 men over the age of 60. First, Corinth, one of Sparta’s closest allies, but a city that frequently felt disrespected by having to adhere to terms imposed by Sparta, formed an alliance with Argos, one of Sparta’s biggest rivals next to Athens. Agesilaus II (c. 401-360 BCE) – Commanded the Spartan army during the period of the Spartan empire. Alcamenes (c. 758-741 BCE) – Spartan king during the First Messenian War, Cleomenes I (c. 520-490 BCE) – Spartan king who oversaw the beginning of the Greco-Persian Wars, Leonidas I (c. 490-480 BCE) – Spartan king who led Sparta, and died fighting, during the Battle of Thermopylae, Agesipolis I (395-380 BCE) – Agiad king during the Corinthian War, Agesipolis III (c. 219-215 BCE) – the last Spartan king from the Agiad dynasty. The fight lasted three years and ended with an Argive/Athenian victory at the Battle of Lechaeum in 391 BCE. These women were allowed to learn reading and writing. However, some of the cities that had pledged to Brasidas were able to achieve more autonomy than they had before, a concession for the Spartans. Ancient Sparta is a legitimate source of fascination: it was a society almost exclusively dedicated to producing the best warriors the world had ever seen. During Mycenaean times, the Achaeans were the most likely the dominant group. Each class will be explained below. It’s one of ancient Sparta’s defining points that women would partake in sports too, which was not typical in the ancient world. All citizens in ancient … However, in 431 BCE, full-scale fighting would resume between Sparta and Athens, and it would last for nearly 30 years. Indeed, the Spartan king Menelaus instigated the war after the Trojan prince Paris abducted his wife Helen, offered to Paris by the goddess Aphrodite as a prize for choosing her in a beauty contest with fellow goddesses Athena and Hera. At the peace conference, however., Sparta refused to sign the treaty if Thebes insisted on signing it in Boeotia. Athens continued to wage war against the Persians until c. 450 BCE, and during these 30 years, it also considerably expanded its own sphere of influence, leading many scholars to use the term Athenian Empire instead of Delian League. Sparta was unique in ancient Greece for its social system and constitution, which were supposedly introduced by the semi-mythical legislator Lycurgus. They appealed to Corinth and Thebes for support but did not receive it. Lysander was not a basileus of Sparta. From this point on, military tradition becomes front and center in Sparta, as will the concept of isolationism, which will help to write the next few hundred years of Spartan history. Another important event, or series of events, that took place in the years leading up to the final stage of the war was Athens attempts to expand. Sparta is located on the sweeping Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece in the Laconian region. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2021) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. At the top of society were Spartiate. The expected length of response will be around eight pages of an examination writing booklet (approximately 1000 words) in total. - Excessive praise of Sparta and neglect of negative aspects of Spartan society affect the reliability of … The region plummeted into turmoil, and Darius I had to campaign for nearly ten years to quell the insurrection. Typically, members of the gerousia were related to one of the two royal familes, which helped to keep power consolidated in the hands of the few. THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN SPARTAN SOCIETY The women of ancient Sparta, those who were born to Spartan parents, had many roles. The Peloponnesian War. However, while the city state of Sparta was a significant player both in Greece and the rest of the ancient world starting in the mid 7th century BCE, Sparta’s story ends abruptly. Unfortunately, there is little reliable historical evidence to document the events of The First Messenian War, but it is believed to have taken place between c. 743-725 BCE. But Sparta was very different from the other Greek city-states. Athens called all the remaining free Greeks together to devise a defense strategy, and they decided to fight the Persians at Thermopylae and Artemisium. This decision gave birth to the city state of Sparta, and it laid the foundation for one of the world’s greatest civilizations. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. But considering the context, one in which women were typically seen as second-class citizens, this relatively equal treatment of Spartan women set this city apart from the rest of the Greek world. If they believed that a baby was too weak, they left it out to die of exposure beside a slope on Mount Taygetus. Spartan women were seen as the vehicle by which the city of Sparta constantly advanced. Laws were made by a council of 30 elders which included the two kings. If your web page requires an HTML link, please insert this code: Ancient Sparta: The History of the Spartans. This took place in 405 BCE, and in 404 BCE Athens agreed to surrender. "Sparta." However, what set the Spartan soldier apart was his loyalty to his fellow soldier. In ancient Sparta, reading and writing were not very important, so they were taught as a secondary skill for both boys and girls. The society of Ancient Sparta was divided into three main classes. Since the time of Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver, the women of Sparta were very much aware of their role in society. Sparta and Lakonia: a regional history 1300-362 BC. Another important thing to consider about Sparta at this time is its growing rivalry with the city state of Athens. Trade amongst the various Greek city states helped ensure mutual prosperity, and alliances helped to establish a balance of power that kept the Greeks from fighting too much amongst themselves, although there were conflicts. To link to this article in the text of an online publication, please use this URL: https://historycooperative.org/ancient-sparta-the-history-of-the-spartans/. The origins of the ephorate are uncertain, The term has two origins. They were eventually slaughtered, and Xerxes and his armies advanced. However, by the 12th century BCE, civilization across all of Europe and Asia was descending into collapse. Ancient Sparta is one of the most well-known cities in Classical Greece. First, it directly translates to “captive,’ and second, it’s believed to be closely linked to the city of Helos, the citizens of which were made into the first helots in Spartan society. It is famous for its powerful army as well as its battles with the city-state of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. In the period following Sparta’s exit from the pan-Hellenic alliance until the outbreak of war with Athens, several major events took place: The Athenians did not like the way they had been treated by the Spartans after offering their support in the helot rebellion. Yet, as is often the case, many of the perceptions we have In comparison to other women of the times, like for example, the women of Athens, the women of Sparta were much better off; while … This led to the first pan-Hellenic alliance in Greek history, but tensions within that alliance helped contribute to the growing conflict between Athens and Sparta, which ended in the Peloponnesian War, the largest civil war in Greek history. The boys learnt survival skills and other skills vital to … There are few historical records from this time, and archaeological evidence also indicates a significant slowdown, leading this period to be referred to as the Late Bronze Age Collapse. All spoke Greek, but each had its own dialect, which was the primary means of distinguishing each one. The laws of Sparta were developed and written by Lycurgus, a legendary lawmaker who, in the 7th century BCE reorganized the political and social structure of the polis, transforming it into a strictly disciplined and collective society.He also developed the stringent military academy of the agoge, where Spartan boys were trained from childhood to adulthood. Sparta was the only city-state where women received formal education in ancient Greece. Spartiates were the descendants of Dorian invaders and Perioikoi and Helots were representatives of the diverse populations found, conquered by Dorians and gave them a different … These youths pursued rigorous athletic and military training which became even more demanding from the age of 20, when they joined common mess halls (syssition) where they often formed homoerotic relations with older, more experienced citizens. - An Athenian at a time when Sparta was at the peak of its power in the beginning of the 4th C. BC, Xenophon wrote in praise of Sparta. Then, Athens to Chalcis, which gave them prime access to the Peloponnese. The Spartans chronicles the rise and fall of one of the most extreme civilisations the world has ever witnessed. The society of Ancient Sparta was divided into three main classes. Fighting didn’t restart until c. 415 BCE. On the first day of fighting, the Greeks, led by Leonidas and his 300, beat back wave after wave of Persian soldiers, including several attempts by Xerxes’ elite fighting force, the Immortals. We do not have an exact date for the founding of the city state of Sparta, but most historians place it sometime around 950-900 BCE. However, the larger, more powerful city states, such as Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Corinth, Argos, etc., refused, choosing instead to try to fight the Persians despite their massive numerical disadvantage. 1. They were also trained in sports, gymnastics, music, poetry, and war-education. The word Spartan has … Athens won a few surprising victories over the much more powerful Spartan army, the most significant of which was the Battle of Pylos in 425 BCE. Instead, Spartan society was based around the military. Furthermore, Spartan women were not allowed to participate in politics, but they did have the right to own property. https://www.ancient.eu/sparta/. Sparta was located in a valley on the banks of the Eurotas River in … Here is a map of Sparta as it relates to the relevant geographical points in the region: Before delving into the ancient history of the city of Sparta, here is a snapshot of the important events in Spartan history: The story of Sparta typically begins in the 8th or 9th century B.C with the founding of the city of Sparta and the emergence of a unified Greek language. It was the famous series of wars between the Persians and Greeks. They invaded the island of Melos, and then they sent a massive expedition to Sicily in an attempt to subjugate the city of Syracuse. Many within the Spartan leadership, including Lysander, argued for burning it to the ground to ensure there would be no more war. Dent, 1903. Two of the ephors also accompanied one of the kings when on campaign. This stipulation effectively made Athens and Sparta equals, a move that would have angered both, particularly the Athenians, and it was a major reason why this peace treaty lasted far less than the 30 years for which it is named.