Classical Sparta

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In the 7th century BC Sparta had became a quite rich state after that nobility had demanded many taxes and services from their serves the Heloten. The organization of the state and the economy in Sparta followed the guides of Lykurgos, a mythological figure that focuses life on the enlargement and training of the army at the expense of a considerably limited individual and familiar life.

Sparta was created with the union of various Dorian villages. During the 8th century it  expanded its influence on the Dentheliatis, in the east of the Messenian Gulf and, during the approximately 20 years that lasted the first Messenian war, also on the Messenian. After, the losers of the war were burdened with taxes and services, and die Messeinan were reduced to slavery as a punishment for causing the the second Messenian war with their revolt. Around middle of the 6th century, Sparta worked hard to build a wide alliance under its leadership, the so-called Peloponnesian Alliance.

The education in Sparta was focused in the art of fighting since the early years of the students. Children were taken away from their parents at the age of seven and started  training in physical performance and hardening of themselves. At the age of 20 they were highly-trained warriors that would work daily in the army till they became 30. The Hopliten (warriors) were provided with a big round shield, a plastron, a helmet, leg trims and a spear or a sword. There were different battle formations; in the Phalanx, for instance, each one used his big shield to protect the left part of his body and the right part of the neighbors' body.

Of course, this kind of education left no space for private life, and Spartan women enjoyed more privileges than women in other cities. They too had to go through a physical training, and they responsible for some official posts regarding economy and administration. Sparta was ruled by two kings, a council of 30 members (Gerusia) and five Ephoren that were elected every year out of the 8000 Spartans.

The Peloponnesian Alliance, together with the Attic Alliance, achieved a great power over the Greek states under the guidance of Athens. However, often they had to fight against revolts in their own files, as for instance in 464 with the third Messenian War or against other dangers coming from the Persian or other city-states and interests. For a while, Sparta took the leadership of the Ancient world after the complete defeat of the Athenians in the Peloponnesian war in 404 BC, but the new leader could not take advantage of the victory and soon lost its power in 371 BC against the Theban in the battle in Leuktra.

In 369 BC the Messenian definitively left Sparta and founded an own state. Finally, the old powerful state fell under the rule of Philip II and joined the Corinthian Alliance under the guidance of Macedonia. Sparta would finally see its end with the Macedonian Empire, to whom it was added as a simple province.  

 

Early History / Archaic Age / Classical Age / Hellenic Age / The Army / Timeline

 
 

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