Plutarch, Lycurgus and Spartan Militarist Values
The University of Southern Queensland
PLUTARCH, LYCURGUS AND SPARTAN MILITARIST VALUES
Militarist systems of government have been instituted in many nations around the world; however one of the earliest and most extreme examples of this system is that of Sparta.The Spartan State was a militaristic force to be reckoned with, and is famous for the values that were expected of their people. These Spartan values and militaristic system of government is described in a document by Plutarch (45-125 CE) regarding Sparta after the Lycurgian reforms, specifically after 650 BCE. This essay will critically examine what this document tells us about Spartan values, why Spartan life was modelled on these values, before finally analysing the integrity and possible biases of Plutarch’s writings on Sparta.
Plutarch’s writings on Sparta provide great insight into the traits and values that were esteemed in Spartan society, during and after the time of Lycurgus. These values were not only prized in the Spartan people, but were expected and were a reflection of the militaristic style of government. Plutarch informs the reader that health and fitness were essential qualities for the people to possess: to this extent, great importance was placed on creating healthy and fit women so that they might bear healthy, fit offspring. Lycurgian Sparta truly emphasised the importance of healthy children, which were to be curbed and shaped into dedicated soldiers willing to lay down their life at the word of their leaders. Because of this, individualism was not tolerated; all personal fancies of an individual or his family were disregarded. All children were to be raised and taught only what the State deemed valuable. The document repeatedly asserts that uniformity was key and even leadership roles were espoused...