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This is Sparta

This is Sparta

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Published by Lachlan Brown
2009 HSC Ancient History notes on Sparta

N.B.
No notes for dot point 6 - Everyday Life
2009 HSC Ancient History notes on Sparta

N.B.
No notes for dot point 6 - Everyday Life

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Published by: Lachlan Brown on Oct 10, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/25/2013

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This Is Sparta
The Geographical Setting 
End of a small but very fertile river plain about 14km long
River Eurotas – fresh water supply
Spartan territory ran to the sea at Gytheon, 46km away on the Lakonian gulf 
Impressive mountain ranges to the east (Mt. Parnon) and west (Mt. Taygetos), providingSparta with a natural defensive barrier 
Various natural resources including limestone, marble, wood, iron, barley, olive trees,grapes, cheese from goats, wool from sheep, meat from pigs, honey from bees, leather itemsfrom animal hides, horses, wild animals such as boars, seafood, murex mollusc gave purple-red dye
Three tribes
Four villages (komai): Limnai, Pitana, Kynosoura, Mesoa – joined together into one citystate in 9
th
Century BC
Polis grew over a number of small hills, one ridge developed as akropolis
 No fortifications until 4
th
Century BC... completed in 2
nd
Century BC
Temples, shrines, theatre, agora
Social Structure and Political Organisation
Plato could not decide if the Spartan government was a democracy or a tyranny, Aristotledescribed it as a happy mix of democracy and oligarchy, while Cicero called it a mixedconstitition
Lykourgos and the Great Rhetra
Lykourgos traditionally seen as the one who introduced the constitution – Plutarch
Historians such as H. Michel and A, Andrewes strongly doubt his exitance
Travelled to Apollo's shrine at Delphi and received a prose poem known as the GreatRhetra which gave abstract advice on what the constitution should be – Plutarch
Mentions Kings and gerousia but not ephors – Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle suggest theywere put into place later to curb the unfettered power of the kings and the gerousia
Plutarch quotes the Rider, and additional clause to be added to the Great Rhetra whichlimits the power of the ekklesia so that they cannot propose new motions or change thewording of others
Historian David Ogden suggests that the Rider is actually the first document and theGreat Rhetra is a more developed form of that
The two Kings (Herodotus lists their rights and privileges)
One came from the Agiad family
One came from the Eurypontid fanily
They were the chief priests of the state and kept oracles from Delphi
They were war leaders but only one at a time led the army on campaign
They were given special meats from the sacrifices and double rations in mess
They had limited judicial powers
They were members of the gerousia
They had a voice in foreign affairs debates
They were supervised by the ephors
They swore an oath to the ephors that they would uphold the law
They could be put on trial and deposed
Their political power appears limited
The gerousia (Council of Elders)
 
Comprised the twenty-eight gerontes and the two Kings
The gerontes had to be “the best and most deserving men past 60 years old” – Plutarch
Elected for life by the ekklesia via acclamation – Plutarch
Aristotle says the method of election is childish and also that it is unwise to have senileold men in such positions of power 
Wide judicial power in serious criminal cases involving death, exile or disgrace
They could put the kings on trial
They proposed laws and framed the wording of legislation to be approved or rejected bythe ekklesia
Oligarchic element in constitution
Lykourgos' attempt to limit power of Kings – Plutarch
The five ephors – Aristotle
Democratically elected by the citizens in the ekklesia
Supervised the kings on campaign during war and often appear to have been more powerful than the king
Chief officials of the state
Influential in deciding foreign policy and met foreign envoys
Wide-ranging police powers over the daily lives of citizens and helots
Presided over meetings of the ekklesia
Worked closely with the gerousia and attended court cases
Swore an oath each month to uphold the powers of the Kings provided the Kings actedlawfully
Seen as effectively a tyranny by Aristotle and Xenophon because of their near unlimited power 
The ekklesia
Comprised all males over 30 years old who were citizens
Met once a month, outdoors
Usually voted by acclamation but could also physically divide into different groupsaccording to Thucydides
Could not debate issues, change the wording of motions, start consideration of newissues or propose new laws or policies
Elected 5 ephors each year and elected men to fill vacancies in the gerousia
Appointed generals and admirals
If the ephors disapproved of a motion passed by the ekklesia they could refuse to proclaim it
Spartiates
Males over the age of 30 years who had completed their education and training andenjoyed citizenship of the polis of Sparta
They had to have legitimate membership of one of the three Spartan tribes
Citizenship was only achieved after successful completion of a training regime, and itwas conditional on acceptance as a member of a military mess
Citizenship could be lost because of cowardice or dishonourable actions
Perioikoi
Were neither Spartan citizens nor slaves
“men who live in houses around”
Generally assumed to be a remnant of the pre-Dorian population that was not enslaved atthe time of the Spartan conquest of the land.
Described as 'half-citizens' because they served as hoplites and were considered to be part of the Lakedaimonian army but did not have the same level of training
 
They were subject to taxation and were supervised by the ephors
Were presumably the only ones involved in craftwork by the 5
th
Century BC due to thelaws of Lykourgos
Inferiors
A number of different terms to indicate inferiors
Mothakes were playmate of Spartan children in the agoge who did not go on to becomecitizens
Parthenai means children of maidens and it has been speculated that they may be theoffspring of illegitimate unions between Spartan women and helots
Xenophon uses the term hypomeiones but does not define it
Tresentes were soldiers who had shown cowardice in battle
 Neodamodeis were former helots whose military service had been rewarded withfreedom but not citizenship
Helots
Generally thought to be serfs, descendants of the original enslaved populations of Lakonia and Messenia
Paul Cartledge describes them as “an unfree people not a random collection of individually owned slaves”
Clear distinction between helots which were owned by the State and douloi who could be bought and sold on the market
Sparta was based on a state-run serfdom — helots worked the agricultural land
It is unknown how many there were, but they outnumbered the Spartans to a degree thatcaused Sparta considerable concern and anxiety and that they took active measures toterrorise them
Were required to perform army service as servants and combatants
Could be given freedom as a reward for military service (see Inferiors)
Fear of helot revolt kept the Spartans in a high state of preparedness and meant the armycould not be away for long for fear of a revolt in their absence
Were terrorised by the krypteia, the secret police, and new ephors would often arbitrarilydeclare war against them as a display of power 
Role of the Spartan Army
Made up of hoplites — heavily armed infantry who fought as a phalanx
The phalanx was vulnerable from the rear and along its flanks so needed skirmishers or cavalry for protection
According to Thucydides in the 5
th
Century BC, phalanxes were made up of 8 rows
4 rows to a platoon, 4 platoons to a company, 4 companies to a battalion
Army comprised of 5 or 7 battalions
According to Xenophon in the 4
th
Century BC, phalanxes were made up of 12 rows
2 rows to a platoon, 2 platoons to a company, 2 companies to a battalion, 4 battalionsto a regiment
Army comprised of 6 regiments
King in battle had an elite force of 300 men – Thucydides and Herodotos
Also special detachments such as cavalry, light-armed troops, peltasts who would peltthe enemy with missiles
Strengths
Hoplite phalanx – strength and reliability
High level of preparedness – discipline and training
Ability to raise other forces from perioikoi and helots
Weaknesses

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