Spartan Social Structure- Importance

Topics: Sparta, Army, Military Pages: 3 (1205 words) Published: December 15, 2010
Explain the Social Structure of Sparta and its Significance in Spartan Society Good morning
According to historical accounts, the Spartan constitution was created around the 750th C BC, by the great lawgiver, Lycurgus. The new system established a social structure that maintained a military power of Sparta and kept the conquered Messenians in cheque. Xenophon, writing 4th Century BC, recognised Lycurgus as the Spartan lawgiver. At the bottom of the social ladder were the helots. The Helots were state owned serfs from conquered Greek states, who would work on Spartan kleros. Their duty was to supply a fixed annual produce to their Spartan masters. The Helots were believed to have outnumbered their Spartan masters by at least 10 to 1. This placed great fear on the Spartans who controlled the Helots under a strict regime. Relations between the helots and Spartans were hostile. Thucydides remarked that "Spartan policy is always mainly governed by the necessity of taking precautions against the helots.” According to Myron of Priene of the middle 3rd century BC,

They “receive a stipulated number of beatings every year regardless of any wrongdoing, so that they would never forget they were slaves.” Each year, the Ephors declared war on the helots and the Krypteia slaughtered many. The Spartan Military system depended on the helots to cultivate and maintain the Spartan Kleros. The helots were the property of the state and could thus be called upon for services as light armed troops during a war. The helots were enlisted to add numbers to the Spartan army.

They were significant in the fact that they were the foundations of Spartan society. They supplied the whole Spartan society with food and assisted in conflicts and wars. Spartan men had to make a monthly contribution to the syssition. This came from the produce taken from the helot workers. The contribution allowed the Spartans to stay in the military mess, tying the functions of the helots into the maintenance...
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