The Main Social and Political Features of the Spartan Society
Spartan is a term that is popularly used to mean a once renowned City State found in ancient Greece and is located on the banks of the Eurotas River in Locania. Sparta population included members of the royal family, Spartiates, citizens of Sparta and the Perioikoi as well as the Helots who all constituted the majority of the country’s population.
The population grew to be a solid military group that led to the success of the ancient Greece when it went to war with Persian forces. This was largely attributed to the high level of bravery as well as the unique strategies employed by the Spartan people in different wars they took part in. Spartans were also renowned for their great warfare commitment because they could not abandon different aspects of their lives to be trained in war fighting.
Sparta also grew by conquering neighboring borders thus, forcing the territories inhabitants to pay tribute to the forces while coercing into slavery. A clear aspect that characterized the Spartan society was the amazing appreciation that was given to ladies who gained a lot of significance after many men died in the many wars. Therefore, women were left to take care of their children and run the economy of Sparta.
Lycurgus also influenced the Spartan society a great deal as he brought drastic changes in the way citizens of Sparta lived.
The main social and political features of the Spartan Society
There are many social and political features that the Spartan society displayed and they made it one of the most significant ancient societies that also rapidly grew to be one of the most renowned cities in ancient Greece. Its political system was built on a constitution that was created by Great Rhetra and it highlighted different laws and regulations controlling the ways and behaviors of the people of Sparta.
The Spartan society was characterized with three levels
Including the kingship, Gerousia (council of elders), and Ekklesia (Assembly). The kingship in the city was unique from other states in the country bearing in mind that two kings ruled at the same time and they held similar responsibilities and power. Kingship was also inherited and kings hailed from two royal families including the Eurypointid and Agiad families.
The council of elders on the other hand consisted of 30 men who could be chosen by the kings and allotted to their positions. For one to quality as a council member, he had to be above the age of 60 years and from a noble background. Council members were as a result tasked with the duty of settling criminal cases, compiling strategies that the assembly wrote and to decline any measures that was considered not fit for the society.
The assembly was mainly and strictly made of made citizens of Sparta above the age of thirty and held a specific level of education from different training courses. The main duty that the assembly undertook included choosing prominent members in Sparta or officials including Gerousia and Ephorate members. Ephorate mainly included a group of five magistrates who by the end of the first Messenian war rose to prominence and were elected on annual basis.
They played a very crucial and sensitive role of guiding the kings on political issues and maintaining their power under control to prevent growth of tyranny. Ephorate members were also chosen by the assembly to ensure they did not heed oath of office, as opposed to being selected by the kings because they could work with them to realize their personal goals, as opposed to the interests of the entire Spartan society.While the citizens of the state exercised their rights to vote, they mainly used the rights to make vital decisions affecting their lives.
The military in the state was also a very crucial political feature in the society of Sparta because it mainly included men who participated in rigorous training to be members of the second military unit. Military forces in Sparta were chosen from birth where strong boys were allowed to live and the weak ones allowed to die in the mountains. The boys were then trained at the age of seven to join the military via a program popularly known as ‘’Agoge’’.
The program was tailor made at toughening the boys to help them handle hardship and severe conditions. The army however was transformed by Lycurgus as he separated military men at a tender age from other working groups to help them have an ample training time as well as dedication to warfare.
The military forces in Sparta were also renowned for their readiness and fearlessness as they had to overcome any attacks from the enemy while containing Helot’s uprising that was bound to occur at any given moment. To put a lot of influence on conquered territories, Sparta also created allies with neighboring states, a move that helped it to control regular uprisings and to control their territories.
Even though ancient scholars were very supportive of the presence of Spartan military system, their arguments cannot account for its growth sufficiently. Plutarch and Xenophon for instance, offered a much distorted description of how the military forces in the state prepared for war, their clothing and their fearlessness in the war fields.
The other significant political feature of the Spartan society was its constitution. This was spearheaded by Lycurgus who was a renowned giver of the law. Many ideas in
The states constitution depended heavily from Crete and their god Apollo had to approve the borrowed ideas. Additionally, citizens of Sparta had to strictly observe the constitution since it was approved by their god and failure to which, one was regarded illegal and wicked.
Additionally, the constitution designed different laws that regulated royal family powers, as well as that of the Spartan citizens, institutions that existed in the state as well as that of the military forces. As the constitution promoted bravery, cowardice was highly forbidden in the country and it was also punishable. Anyone found guilty for violating the constitution was forbidden from marriage and in some cases, banned from the land.
Equally, the constitution stipulated the recommended dress code of the Spartan military forces as it help distinguish them from their enemies. Additionally, the constitution established kinship office among other public offices and it was tailor made to promote democracy as it defined the responsibilities and powers bestowed on various offices.
Spartan society also revealed a wide range of unique social features constituting the social fabric that contributed a great deal to the society’s unity. Even though Spartan society was very popular for its military powers and might, it had a very unique social setting based on education, religion and the marriage institution.
Spartans as a result valued the communal life based on the fact that they ate in common places in many occasions and they were known as the mess. Those partaking communal meals were also allocated a rationed food portion to avoid starvation and overfeeding. The food mainly included corn but it was supplemented occasional with additional food from the rich and gathered in hunting expeditions.
The Spartans also met in groups of fifteen people in the mess and on monthly basis, they could contribute to share food.
They also expressed cohesion by participating in moderate drinking and each man owned a cup not to be shared by anyone else for any drinking purpose. Drinking was also controlled as a way of ensuring that the people remained sober and capable of working.
All Spartan parents had a role of disciplining children whether biological kids or not. Punished kids would also receive punishment from biological parents. Additionally, there was a common regulation enabling people to share their properties and helping servants to accomplish their responsibilities on daily basis.
Education was also a significant part of the Spartan society’s life and kids were expected to undergo different forms of training programs including reading, dancing, writing and music. Agoge, or military training was also a very crucial element of education. Kids would therefore be introduced to different wrestling schools via the program and they participated in rigorous training to build their conduct.
To ensure success in the boys’ education process, they were entrusted to an elderly member who also supervised their development in Agoge training. On the other hand, marriage was a very significant institution in the society as females and males were allowed to marry as soon as they turned 20 and 18 years respectively. While people participated in different social activities naked, young women and men would be easily attracted to each other and this later culminated to marriage.
Such unions were carried out without any form of ceremony as young males conquered their brides in a very violent way, to fight off evil spirits.
Thereafter, the union would be crowned by having the bride shave her head as a symbol of transition from childhood to a wife.
Women in the society also shared their amazing privileges in life than other women in neighboring communities. They were treated equally as men and could own properties inherited from their husbands who died from wars as they tried to protect their territory from her enemies. They could also move freely and took part in different sporting events and took wine, and these were not allowed in the neighboring states.
Women were also educated with a purpose of training them to be exceptional mothers. Similarly, they could engage in different exercises making them bear strong kids in their marriage lives. However, Spartans were barred from participating in trade because the society aimed at enhancing equity where no single person would be too poor or too rich. This is a move that enhanced pursuance as well as loyalty of stringent laws governing the Spartan land.
There were also a wide range of festivals that took place in the society including singing and dancing competitions as well as initiation ceremonies. Members of the society were also very religious and heavily participated in the worship of many gods that built the foundation of their religion. Herodotus for instance noted that Spartan highly valued religion and respected theirs gods compared to any other human in and outside their territory.
They were also highly submissive to their gods and accorded them respect without coercion. Various gods in Spartan society served different purposes including warfare and love matters. They equally participated in a wide range of religious festivals carried out by their priests and kings.
It is therefore clear that
Different social and political features of the society cannot be explained. While the defined examples was carried out via relevant history review, many ancient authors including Aristotle and Plato offered a very biased historical evidence in regards to the incidences that took place in the Spartan society. As a result, it is quite difficult to explain different social and political features of the society.
It is with no doubt that the Spartan society was a very unique set up that lay at the heart of Ancient Greece and in the land of Laconia. The citizens of the society were famed for their military prowess and their war preparedness at they focused at growing their territories and controlling any possible Helot’s uprising and protecting its citizens from invasion.
Sparta was also led by two kings, leading at the same time and was supported by the Ephorate as well as the council of elders and the assembly. The Spartan society had a very solid political structure that upheld the creation of a strong military unit that gained popularity in the global history. The society also appreciated women as they were given many privileges including property ownership, something that was very rare in ancient neighboring states.
Additionally, Spartans participated in a wide range of social activities including education, marriage, religious activities as well as social festivals.
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