Sparta, an eminent name in the history was one of the major states of the Ancient Greek that came into limelight in around 650 BC. Also known as Lacedaemon, it was located on the bank of Eurotas River. Spartans have an immense reputation when it comes to bravery and were undefeatable as a military power. It goes as far as saying that life in Sparta only revolved around producing the best and valiant warriors on ground and the training started as soon as a child turned twelve.
However, there is a side to Sparta that you probably are not aware of. The following uniquely interesting facts will leave you astounded.
Spartans had a ritual of bathing their newly born babies in wine after which it was presented to an elderly person whom they referred to as Gerousia. The child was inspected for any physical deformities. Had not the child pass the test, it was thrown off Mount Taygetos and killed or left on a mountain to starve unless it was found by a neighbor. Those who were fit were treated with tough meals after the reach five and the child rearing practices also included leaving them to darkness in isolation in order to make them tough.
The military training of the Spartan boys started from the age of five when they were asked to leave their homes and shift to communal barracks. It continued till the reach the age of eleven. Pyrriche, which is a dance involving the carrying and maneuvering of weapons was one the first things that the child there was made to learn. The child was also taught reading and writing in addition to learning all the songs that were sang in the military campaigns.
As soon as the child reached twelve, he was regarded to be in his youth years and the training only stiffened. To enhance his military and survival skills, he was abstained from wearing any footwear or warm clothing even in sheer cold. This was aimed at making him favorable to all conditions on the battlefield.
All the teenagers were also involved in vicious fighting activities under the eye of a trainee. An interesting fact states that these child were often encouraged on stealing food and if caught they had to endure severe punishments, not on the act of stealing but getting caught.
Also known as ‘diamastigosis’, this ritual was held annually where the adolescents were flogged in the temple of Artemis Orthia in front of an altar. The aim was to test the endurance and the courage of the young Spartans who have been trained under military training. The ritual often turned fatal for few Spartan warriors.
In contrast to other cities of the Greek, women in Sparta were well educated and were highly respected. Their status and power was far greater than women in other states. Even the young girls were encouraged to pursue studies. They were also involved in physical activities and training to some extent
Women who died in childbirth were given the privilege to have their names engraved on their gravestones. This privileged initially belonged to only those warriors who died in the battle field. The rest of the citizens were buried as anonymous.
Spartan was one of the three social classes that the city was divided in. Often regarded as the most privileged ones, this class included the citizens who could trace their history to the ancestors who took part in forming the city of Sparta.
Perioikoi was another social class of the city. The people belonging here were not the Spartan citizens but those who lives on Spartan lands. They were allowed to trade and own lands as well as travel to other cities.
Helot, the third social class was larger in number. This population belonged to the slaves of the Spartans. They were involved in farming their own lands but had to present half of their yields to the Spartans. They were often treated cruelly and those who tried to escape were mostly killed.