Battle of Thermopylae and Spartan Army

Topics: Sparta, Battle of Thermopylae, Spartan Army Pages: 6 (1920 words) Published: February 11, 2008
The Fall Spartan Military Power

A garrison society along with built up tension will result in the inevitable fall of one of the most notorious nations of all time. Sparta was a place, a people like no other. The way in which they managed their daily affairs lead to restriction of rights. The Spartan Idealism and Spartan Law aided in the collapse of Sparta. " Sparta stood for the complete antithesis to Athens, with here brilliant culture, freedom-loving but fickle democracy and cult of the individual. Sparta was a model of stability, order and discipline or of reaction, regimentation and repression. ‘ The organization of your state is that of an army camp, not of people who live in a town' Plato"#. Sparta

Growing up in Sparta was a much different experience than their neighboring States. A Spartan was brought up in a very regimented lifestyle taught that the greatest glory was death in battle#. The life of a Spartan from birth until death is an intriguing story filled with excitement, danger, and pride. Spartan citizens would participate in mock battles, deal with the political matter of the state, and training young Spartan boys into Soldiers#.

Every infant was examined shortly after birth by the elders do the tribesman who either passed it or, if the baby was weakly or deformed, ordered it to be thrown over a special cliff. At the age of eight the boy would be enrolled in a ‘herd' under supervision of a senior Spartiate. When the boy reached the age of thirteen he would move on to another ‘herd'#. The training was mainly centered around athletics and military. Sparta was not known for their arts but the young men would study literature learning how to read. The boys lived a very hard regimented lifestyle living in dormitories, only receiving one garment a year, and where not aloud to bathe. They where fed meager rations and where encouraged to steal yet punished if they where careless and got caught.# The boys would be put through relentless tests to prove themselves. One of the most famous games was the game of stealing the cheese from the altar. The boy would have to run through a gauntlet of flogging which would take victim to many young Spartans. After the boys have proven themselves they would move onto their arranged marriages typically around the age of 20.#

There was not only Spartan citizens living in Sparta at this time though. The rest of the population consisted of Helots and Perioeci. These people would be either farm the land or have the life of slavery. This was all the luck of birth. The Perioeci would pay rent to the Spartan Kings. The Perioeci where in between the Helots and Spartans, but the Perioeci would tend favour the Spartans. The Helots where at the bottom of the food chain to say the least. The word Helots itself means captives. And that they where, slaves and training aids to the Spartan army. The Spartan government had no trust for the Helots and formally declare war on the Helots every year so that no Spartan would be subjected to the law for killing a Helot out of hand. This would cause a lot of civil unrest due to the consequences of status differentiation. This constant conflict would be considered as the disease of Spartans military rule. Spartans where ever-ready to crush the Helot insurrection which would be inevitable. Spartans where taught to rule over their slaves ruthlessly#.

The Spartan government went as far as instituting the Krypteia which was when young Spartan warriors where sent out into the country and killed the most active helots by night time and would hide in the day. At times of crisis the Spartan government was extremely ruthless

" They proclaimed that those of them [Helots] who claimed to be the best in military affairs should be picked, so that they could be freed, making a test and thinking that those who first claimed to be freed would be the most likely to attack them from pride. So they picked about 2,000 [Helots] and...
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