Cultral Life in Ancient Greece

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With reference to sources, what does the evidence reveal about Spartan cultural life? There were many different aspects to the Spartan cultural life which ancient sources and evidence have provided insight and knowledge for our modern societies. These features include art, architecture, writing and literature, and Greek writer’s views of Sparta. The Spartan cultural life also gives us knowledge into other aspects of Spartan life and the society in which they lived. Architecture was one of the essential parts of the Spartan cultural life. The main sites for Spartan architecture were Amyklaios, the Menelaion and the sanctuary of Artimis Orthia. The sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios, five kilometres south of Sparta was populated from prehistoric times. It was until the roman period was the second most important political and religious centre of Sparta. One of the most important Spartan festivals, the Hyakinthia which took place at the Amyklaion, It symbolizes the political reconciliation of Doric Sparta (Apollo) with the Achaian population of Amyklai (Hyakinthos). It was first excavated by archaeologist Chr.tsountas, in 1890. The Menelaion was a shrine to Helen and Menelaos, the legendary figures of the Trojan War. It was located 5 kilometres out of Sparta, on top of a hill. The remain of an early Mycenaean palace have been found only a few meters from the site, There is also evidence leading to believe that it was destroyed by earthquakes and fire at least twice during the bronze age. At the site of the shrine there has been Votive offerings found to Helen and Menelaos, they date back to the late eight century. When Pausanius himself visited Greece, the Menelaion was in ruins. The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia is located along the bank of the Eurotas River on the outskirts of Sparta. It had a temple and an altar. Finds from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia have been used by historians to disprove the traditional picture of Spartan austerity before the late sixth century BC. They include many hoplites and women, many lead figurines as well as other votive offerings made of clay, bronze, silver, gold and ivory. During the roman times a theatre was built for tourists who came to watch re-enactments of flogging rituals. The Sanctuary dates from the tenth century BC but was rebuilt in the second century AD, and was renovated in the following century. The site of The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia was first excavated by archaeologists from the British school at Athens between 1906 and 1910. R.M.Dawkins tells us, ‘’The sanctuary of (Artemis) Orthia at Sparta underwent many changes in the long period from the beginning of the cult in perhaps the tenth century BC down to its final abandonment at some quite uncertain date… [As] digging proceeds from the surface downwards, to reach what is early it must first pass through what is late: the order of discovery is, in fact, precisely opposite to the order of time.’’ This tells us that the site went under many changes in the long period from the begging to the end of its life. The Architecture in the Spartan cultural life is significantly important, in the role of history. Writing and literature actually written by Spartans is hard to come by for this period. For this significant period of time in which Sparta was at high power in the Greek world, the only two remaining Spartan literacy sources are fragments of the poetry of Alcman (Alkman) and a few complete poems and some fragments of works by Tyrtaeus (Tyrtaios). Tyrtaios and Alcman both lived and wrote in Sparta around the end of the seventh century BC, in which followed the Second of the Messenian War. There are some clues in some fragments, of his poetry that he might have been from Sardis, the capital of the kingdom of Lydia in Asia Minor. His poetry reflects a cultured, prosperous society that was open to foreign influences. ‘’ Sparta was not yet the military state it later became but a home of music and poetry. Spartan literature began in...
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