Facts and Information About Sparta

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When one talks of history, it’s quite difficult not to mention the Roman and Greek civilizations of the past. Roman and Greek history is about men; women find little or no importance, and when one speaks about Spartans, it’s all about men. Greek and Roman civilizations are among the earliest civilizations in the history of mankind. There are a lot of similarities between the two in terms of their culture and life style. The similarities can be seen in the way they constructed their buildings and sculptures. The Romans were known for their valor and military might, but so too were the Greeks, and none vindicates this than the Spartans. Spartans belonged to a warrior society in ancient Greece, and there are very few people today who haven’t heard of them; thanks largely to Warner Bros. production Sparta 300. In the movie, Spartans were taught never to surrender or never to retreat, but die on the battlefield in the service to Sparta. Cripples or the weak had no place in Sparta and when children were big enough to stand, they were baptized to stand in the pier of combat and defend themselves. Women were portrayed as being homemakers, but in reality, Spartan women, though not very active in the military, were well educated and enjoyed a far better life than other Greek women.

Polybius, the great Greek historian of the second century B.C., wrote that Agesiloas, who reigned from about 400 -360 B.C., Sparta was at the height of her power, controlling an Aegean Empire that stretched from the Black Sea to Cape Matapan, at the foot of the Peloponnese (Cartledge, 1986).

However, in 371 B.C., Spartans were defeated by Thebes at the Battle of Leuctra, and their empire went into a long period of decline. There are a number of interesting facts about Spartans that could give readers an idea what made Spartans the ruthless warriors they were. In history.com, under ‘Deconstructing History’, there is a video clip that depicts the armory of a Spartan warrior. According to history.com, there were about 10,000 Spartan soldiers, and each Spartan soldier carried a spear that was 6 -10 feet long, a sword 12-20 inches long, a shield made of bronze and wood with a 3 meter diameter, a bronze armor to protect their torso and anklets, and a helmet, all weighing 30-50 lbs., and fought in a formation called the Phalanx, where each soldier was equal in rank and stature and fought for the other. It was in the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC) that 300 Spartan warriors stood up against the advancing Persians for 2 days in a war till the last one of them died. This was the end of the Spartans even though their empire began to disintegrate. In the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) a Spartan leader by the name of Lysander defeated Athens and her empire.

On a lighter note, the Warner Bros. Production Sparta 300 didn’t do justice to Spartan women. As mentioned a little earlier, Spartan women led a better social life than most other Greek women. Spartan women were given a status comparable with that of their more famous men in the athletic arena. According to Kemp (2008), Plutarch mentions Lycurgus, the severe law-giver of Sparta, as ordering women to exercise and participate in wrestling, running, throwing the quoit, and casting the dart, so that the babies born to them are healthy. This ideology stems from the fact that Spartans were warriors, and all that they cared for was men who could fight.

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