Facts About Sparta, an Ancient Greek City-State

Here are some facts about  Sparta, the famous city-state of Ancient Greece.

  • Sparta (also known as Lacedaemon) was one of the key city-states in Ancient Greece.
  • It was located in the Laconia region, in the Peloponnese, on the bank of the Eurotas River.
  • Although it had been in existence since the tenth century BC, it became a truly dominant force in about 650 BC.
  • Sparta gained a reputation as a military power, and Spartan warriors were thought to be the best ground troops in all of Ancient Greece.

Sparta

  • In 480 BC King Leonidas of Sparta led a small army of 300 Spartan warriors and about 1000 other soldiers against the large Persian army. The odds were overwhelming, but the Spartan troops killed many Persians before they were finally defeated. This is known as the Battle of Thermopylae.
  • During the series of wars between Greece and Persia (known as the Greco-Persian Wars), Sparta was in command of the entire Greek army.
  • During the Peloponnesian War, Sparta and Athens fought against each other.
  • Two Kings ruled Sparta at all times. One was to come from the Agiad family and the other from the Eurypontid family.
  • The inhabitants of Sparta were divided into different social groups. Spartiates were citizens of Sparta, Mothakes were non-Spartan free men, Periokoi were freed slaves and Helots were slaves from Messenia and Lakonia.
  • Life in Sparta was focused on producing warriors and maintaining Sparta’s military supremacy.
  • Shortly after birth, Spartan babies were bathed in wine and then presented to the Gerousia (an elder). Any weak or deformed babies were thrown off Mount Taygetos and killed.
  • Spartan boys started their military training at the age of seven. They learned to fight, survive on the just enough food, and learned to read, write and dance. They became athletic, tough and fierce.
  • Spartan girls were also well-educated, but they didn’t receive as much military training.
  • Spartan women were respected, well-educated and had more status and power than women living in the other Greek city-states.
  • The adjective ‘spartan’ used today, meaning simple and frugal, comes from character of the Spartans from Ancient Greece.
  • Only Spartans who died in battle and Spartan women who died in childbirth were entitled to having their names engraved on their gravestones.

What next? Discover more facts about Ancient Greece by visiting the Primary Facts Ancient Greek resources page.

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