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Chapter 4

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University of Guelph
Classical Studies
CLAS 1000
John Walsh

Sparta/ Lacedaemon -Sparta was most powerful city state in Greece during the Archaic and Classical periods -Similar to other Greek poleis- patriarchal, agricultural economy, law revered, and the involvement of the state. Sparta went way beyond in the involvement of the state- very much defined by patriotism and a denial of selflessness - surrounding territory Laconia and Sparta difficult to talk about- many historians only write about Sparta as its ideal, “Spartan Ideal” THE DARK AGE AND THE ARCHAIC PERIOD -Laconia important center in Bronze Age- experienced pop. decline after Mycenaean period, after 10 century BC Dorian settlers came, by 8 century BC four new villages united to become Sparta -Resources became hard to come by, because of Sparta’s placement inland, only had one colony- Taras in southern Italy. Sparta solved their resource problems by conquest HELOTS AND THE SOCIAL HIERARCHY -When Spartans took over the Laconian plain, they made the people living their “helots”- hereditary subjects of the Spartan state, basically slaves -People surrounding the Laconian plain became “perioikoi” – neighbours, who had to serve in the army but couldn’t participate in government, but essential part of Spartan economic system st -1 Messenian War: Spartans invaded Messenia, lasted 20 years, ended 720 BC, becomes subject to Sparta, most helots- no consolation except they won’t be sold out of Messenia -conquests of Laconia and Messenia made Sparta biggest Greek city state, and one of the richest, beauty of Spartan women was celebrated -Spartan prosperity was unstable, Messenians greatly outnumbered Spartans, and they rebelled st against Spartans after their defeat at the Battle of Hysiae in 669 BC. Little is known of the 1 and 2 Messenian wars, in the end Sparta won, and the Messenians turned back to helots. This showed the risk of the helot system- they changed their institutions towards creating huge military advantage over helots by training to the highest degree of skill, and then always had military forces ready to deploy THE SPARTAN SYSTEM th th -Lycurgus started Spartan tradition, in place by the end of the 7 – beginning of 6 century BC. The Spartan system could be called totalitarian because it touched every aspect of life THE EDUCATION AND UPBRINGING OF BOYS -Trained to conform- be courageous and never surrender and sacrifice them for the state -Hoplite/Spartan liable for military service till 60 years old -Educational system received legitimacy because it was created by Lycurgus -A birth, state determined baby’s viability- decided whether to be raised/abandoned (only boys). All children received the same education- divided by age groups. By 7 years old, boys left home to train in “herds”. Boy’s education focused on enduring hardships- had to walk barefoot/naked and only given one cloak for all weather. They were examined naked by ephors (overseers) every ten days. They were encouraged to steal to develop cunning/ self-reliance, but would get whipped if caught. -By 20 they could marry but had to live with military group until they were 30. Syssition or dining groups with members of the military groups was mandatory and important to develop loyalty within the men. During syssition they would make the helots get wasted to show the youth moderation and to be disgusted by drunkards. -Anyone who couldn’t become the ideal Spartan was identified as a “trembler” and was publically humiliated (beard cut, coloured cloak) and wouldn’t marry, nor any of his sisters so that the line would die out BECOMING A SPARTAN WOMAN -Girls raised to bear strong soldiers-to-be, education payed for by the state -unlike other Greek women, they trained/exercised outside, were well nourished, and drank wine. Child bearing= social obligation. Divided by age for education, hairstyles divided them as well. -Greek woman: “You Spartan women are the only women who rule men” Leonidas wife: “That is because we are the only ones who give birth to men.” -because men were perpetually gone, women took care of domestic affairs. Aristotle complained this is why Spartan women had too much freedom, prestige, and power. Flawed because women escaped Lycurgus’s regulations. Spartans decided own dowries, soon women owned 2\5ths of the land, though they had no share of the government. SEX AND MARRIAGE -Young couples never lived together -Marry by capture, bridesmaid would shave brides head, dress her like a man, then lay in the dark bedroom. Bridegroom would come in, they would be together. They would do this in secret for a
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