Historical Sources for Sparta

Topics: Sparta, Battle of Thermopylae, Apollo Pages: 5 (1165 words) Published: May 28, 2014

Geographical Setting:
Written Sources:
“whose fertility is greater than words can express” (Strabo)

Archaeological Sources:
They had access to marble, iron and bronze, this can be seen in the votive offerings left at the temple of Artemis Orthia that are made out of these items. They could hunt animals, this is supported by a depiction of Spartiates hunting a boar on Lakonian pottery.

Social Structure and political organisation:
Written sources:
The Issue of Lycurgus and the Great Rhetra
“By these changes they became a well ordered state” (Herodotus) (on Lycurgus and the Great Rhetra)

The Role of the Kings
“…kings received a whole catalog of honors and privileges…spanned the domestic and military spheres…included priesthoods…” (M Kennell)

Government – The Ephorate, The Gerousia, and the Ekklesia
“…kept things in a just equilibrium… to resist democracy, and… supporting the people against the establishment of absolute monarchy.” (Plutarch) (Gerousia) “The Assembly included everyone, but it seemed to have been a rather passive role…It could only approve or reject...” (Finlay) (Ekklesia)

Archaeological Sources: N/A

Social Structure: Spartiates, Periokoi, “inferiors”, and Helots Written Sources:
“Since the Spartans…were legally banned from engaging in any craft or trade activities…apart from war-making… the periokoi filled the gap as traders and craftsmen.” (Cartledge) “It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Spartans did, rightly or wrongly, genuinely fear helot revolt…” (Paul Cartledge)

Archaeological Sources:
Gravestones for Spartiates whom had died in battle
Lakonian Pottery and art, this shows that the Periokoi identified themselves and were loyal to the Spartan culture. Rural Shrine in Aegiae – Religion of the periokoi was different to Sparta because it was a cult of a local hero called Tigamenes. Excavations at Geronthae have uncovered an iron anvil – proof of industrial activity in manufacturing weapons and arms for Sparta.

The Role of the Spartan Army
Written Sources:
“So it is with the Spartans; fighting singly, they are as good as any, but fighting together they are the best soldiers in the world.” (Herodotus)

Control of the Helots – The Military, The Syssitia, The Kryptaeia Written Sources:
“…At night they made their way to the roads and murdered any helot whom they caught. Frequently too, they made their way through the fields, killing helots who stood out for their physique and strength.” (Plutarch) (Krypteia) “At Sparta every individual has to contribute, and as some of them are quite poor and unable to meet the heavy expenditure, the result is the opposite of what the legislator intended.” (Aristotle) (syssitia) (Spartan mirage)

Archaeological Sources:
Statuettes of hoplite soldiers
Statues and busts of Leonidas (indicate to an extent the armour that the Spartans wore)

The educational system: Agoge
Written Sources:
“…their whole education was aimed at developing smart obedience, perseverance under stress and victory in battle.” (Plutarch) “It is a fine thing for a brave man to die when he has fallen among the front ranks while fighting for his homeland…” (Tyrtaeus)

Archaeological evidence:
The site of the altar of the temple of Artemis Orthia, it was where the cheese stealing ritual occurred as a rite of passage for the boys in the agoge.

The Role and Status of Women: Land ownership, inheritance, education Written Sources:
“[Lycurgus] prescribed physical training for the female sex no less than for the male… thinking that if both parents were strong their children would be more robust.” (Xenophon) “…many things were managed by their women… And nearly two fifths of the whole country are held by women; this owing to the number of heiresses and to the large dowries which are customary…” (Aristotle) “Spartan women could read, if not also write…” (Cartledge)

Archaeological Sources:
A series of...
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