Sparta was Greece’s military state in ancient Greece, and the Spartans dedicated their lives to serve in the military. The philosophy guiding the administration of Sparta dictated that the life of a Spartan belonged to the state…
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As such, men and women in Sparta engaged in military training from their childhood, and lived under military discipline for the better part of their lives. By the 6th Century B. C., Sparta’s military strength was unmatched in Greece. However, recurrent wars with Persia, Athens and Macedonia in later years weakened the might of the Spartans and led to its destruction in A. D. 395. This paper discusses the impact of the rise and fall of Sparta on Greek culture. The rise and fall of Sparta Background Before its destruction by Visigoths in A.D 396, Sparta was the capital of Laconia, and was located on the Peloponnesus, southwest of Athens (History World 2011). Sparta was the rival of Athens in ancient Greece mainly due to the prowess of its armies in wars, while Athens’ popularity lay in learning, art, and architecture. The city was created by Dorian Greeks who invaded the region and took over the Laconia and Messenia countryside, particularly due to the fertility of the area. The culture of military arts and war was rife among the population of Sparta. Girls and boys alike engaged in community-based exercises to keep fit, and mature adult males were part of the Spartan army. Consequently, the prowess of the Spartans in war was unmatched for a long time across Greece. Over time, Sparta acquired slaves known as helots, and the state forced them to work in the farms owned by Spartan citizens, who were the only ones with the legal right to own land in the city (Fleck & Hanssen 2009). Spartan citizens could also own helots and although they could not sell them, they denied them the freedom to engage in any form of commerce for gain. Helots had no rights in Sparta, legal or civil, and part of the produce from their labor was paid to their masters. With time, however, their population in Sparta grew beyond controllable measures and they started an uprising against the citizens of Sparta. However, the helots were defeated and the uprising quelled, but the incidence prompted the Spartan citizens to form a full-time army to control the helots. Lycurgus, a leader of the Spartan population, formulated the social and military policies whose ideologies were used to develop the military society. The system was later named the Lycurgus system in his honor, and its policies were adopted into the Sparta constitution (Walsh 1994). The system of incorporating military doctrines into the community and turning every rightful citizen of Sparta into a soldier made the Spartan army a formidable force, turning the practice into a culture in Sparta. The Spartan governing philosophy dictated that the life of the Spartans belonged to the state. As such, male Spartans dedicated their lives to the military from birth. Elders inspected boys at birth to ascertain their fitness for war, and all physically fit male Spartans were taken from their mothers at the age of seven to begin military training. Such boys became soldiers at the age of 20 years, and were made citizens at the age of 30 years (CEE 2010). Their service in the Spartan army continued until the age of 60 years, and this ensured that Sparta had an army fit for combat at all times. Women, on the other hand, were under less strict military discipline, although they too were part of the military society. Sparta’s administration was governed by two kings elected from two families, mainly in consideration to their expertise in religion and in battle. Although the kings were capable of making leadership decisions on behalf of the Spartan population, they were under the scrutiny of a council of elders and an assembly of citizens. Moreover, leadership in Sparta was under the rule of ephors,
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“The Rise and Fall of Sparta: It'S Impact on Greek Culture Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1391637-the-rise-and-fall-of-sparta-it-s-impact-on-greek.
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