Sparta

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The ancient city of Sparta was known for their dedication to religion and obedience to the gods in everyday life. The main features of their religion consisted of deities, festivals, their practices, the king’s role, funerary customs, and roles in religion and Lycurgus’ influence, which aided this great city to become known not just for their military skills. Herodotus tells us from his work, “The Histories” that Sparta was also mocked by other Greek States for their strict obedience to the religious rituals their religion obtained. Herodotus informs us of Athens requesting for Sparta’s assistance at the battle of Marathon, and Sparta relaying “It was the ninth day of the month...and they could not take the field until the moon was full”. Sparta had many deities who were important to the state, imperative to their religion. Particularly important were the mythical Spartan heroes such as Dios, Castor and Pollux, thousands of votive offering have been found, mostly at Amyclae. The Dios was associated with young men and their pursuits. Other gods included Apollo Karneios, Apollo of Amyclae, Artemis Orthia, Athena Chalkiokis, Helen, Leucippes, and Lycurgus. At Amyclae, a statue of Apollo with a spear and bow was uncovered and a statue of an armed Aphrodite suggesting that most gods were armed, in compliance with the militaristic state. Shrines dedicated to Dios were also found at Sparta. Festivals in Sparta were communal, and honoured a young Apollo, sourcing the Spartan obsession with youth. The Karneia was a major festival celebrated in Karneios (August/September) derived from Apollo Karneios. Archaeologists have found coins depicting Karneios as a horned god, and horns have been found carved on stone with the inscription “To the Karneios”. Written evidence also suggests a cult of Karneios, and Theokritos tells of a shepherd fattening a ram to be sacrificed to Apollo at the Karneia. Two rituals were held at this festival, with a procession of model rafts and a...
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