The awesomeness of…the Spartans

Statue of Leonidas

Statue of Leonidas

Pretty much everyone knows the movie 300, which glorifies the Spartans as crazy death-bound warriors who were fearless and just plain bonkers on the battlefield. But who were they really?

The Spartans formed part of the city-states of Greece, although they had they’re own King and ruling party. In fact two Kings ruled Sparta, one from the Agiad family, and the other from the Eurypontid family.

They were known as Lacedaemians, and were focussed on their military training and achievements, which is why they were some of the best foot soldiers of the time.

The Spartans were ruthless in attack, and solid as a rock in defence. These early military traits were learnt from a young age as boys were sent to training at the age of 7, and were taught to survive in the wild, read and write.

soldiers

This next fact makes me think the Spartans weren’t so awesome or shy to express their disgust at anything that wasn’t perfect – when a baby was born it was looked over by one of the leading elders. If the baby had a deformity it would be thrown off Mount Taygetos. (Geez, talk about discrimination).

Anyway, the women of Sparta were well educated and highly regarded and well educated. They also had a higher status in Sparta than in the Greek mainland, where women didn’t have much freedom at all.

sparta

The Battle of Thermopylae is the famous war against the Persians and the 300 Spartans. King Leonidas and his men managed to kill so many of the Persians until they were eventually overthrown by Xerxes and his men. This battle took place in 480 BC, and it wasn’t long after that when Sparta took control of Athens in the Peloponnesian War.

The decline of the Spartans was dealt at the hands of the Thebans who conquered Sparta in the 4th century BC and freed their Messenian slaves. This had such a catastrophic effect of the Spartans, that they never really bounced back from it all, and became a second-rate city after Greece.

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