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Sparta Symbol

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Sparta Symbol

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However, usually the only boys eligible for the agoge were Spartiates , those who could trace their ancestry to the original inhabitants of the city.

There were two exceptions. Trophimoi or "foster sons" were foreign students invited to study. The Athenian general Xenophon , for example, sent his two sons to Sparta as trophimoi.

Also, the son of a helot could be enrolled as a syntrophos [61] if a Spartiate formally adopted him and paid his way; if he did exceptionally well in training, he might be sponsored to become a Spartiate.

These laws meant that Sparta could not readily replace citizens lost in battle or otherwise, which eventually proved near fatal as citizens became greatly outnumbered by non-citizens, and even more dangerously by helots.

The other classes were the perioikoi , free inhabitants who were non-citizens, and the helots , [63] state-owned serfs. Descendants of non-Spartan citizens were forbidden the agoge.

The Spartans were a minority of the Lakonian population. The helots were originally free Greeks from the areas of Messenia and Lakonia whom the Spartans had defeated in battle and subsequently enslaved.

In contrast to populations conquered by other Greek cities e. Instead, the helots were given a subordinate position in society more comparable to serfs in medieval Europe than chattel slaves in the rest of Greece.

Helots did not have voting or political rights. In other Greek city-states, free citizens were part-time soldiers who, when not at war, carried on other trades.

Since Spartan men were full-time soldiers, they were not available to carry out manual labour. Helot women were often used as wet nurses.

Helots also travelled with the Spartan army as non-combatant serfs. At the last stand of the Battle of Thermopylae , the Greek dead included not just the legendary three hundred Spartan soldiers but also several hundred Thespian and Theban troops and a number of helots.

Relations between the helots and their Spartan masters were sometimes strained. There was at least one helot revolt c.

Slave revolts occurred elsewhere in the Greek world, and in BCE 20, Athenian slaves ran away to join the Spartan forces occupying Attica.

As the Spartiate population declined and the helot population continued to grow, the imbalance of power caused increasing tension. They assign to the Helots every shameful task leading to disgrace.

Moreover, if any exceeded the vigour proper to a slave's condition, they made death the penalty; and they allotted a punishment to those controlling them if they failed to rebuke those who were growing fat.

Plutarch also states that Spartans treated the Helots "harshly and cruelly": they compelled them to drink pure wine which was considered dangerous — wine usually being cut with water " Each year when the Ephors took office, they ritually declared war on the helots, allowing Spartans to kill them without risk of ritual pollution.

The helots were invited by a proclamation to pick out those of their number who claimed to have most distinguished themselves against the enemy, in order that they might receive their freedom; the object being to test them, as it was thought that the first to claim their freedom would be the most high spirited and the most apt to rebel.

As many as two thousand were selected accordingly, who crowned themselves and went round the temples, rejoicing in their new freedom. The Spartans, however, soon afterwards did away with them, and no one ever knew how each of them perished.

The Perioikoi came from similar origins as the helots but occupied a significantly different position in Spartan society. Although they did not enjoy full citizen-rights, they were free and not subjected to the same restrictions as the helots.

The exact nature of their subjection to the Spartans is not clear, but they seem to have served partly as a kind of military reserve, partly as skilled craftsmen and partly as agents of foreign trade.

Full citizen Spartiates were barred by law from trade or manufacture, which consequently rested in the hands of the Perioikoi. Allegedly, Spartans were prohibited from possessing gold and silver coins, and according to legend Spartan currency consisted of iron bars to discourage hoarding.

Allegedly as part of the Lycurgan Reforms in the mid-8th century BCE, a massive land reform had divided property into 9, equal portions.

Each citizen received one estate, a kleros , which was expected to provide his living. From the other half, the Spartiate was expected to pay his mess syssitia fees, and the agoge fees for his children.

However, we know nothing of matters of wealth such as how land was bought, sold, and inherited, or whether daughters received dowries.

Attempts were made to remedy this by imposing legal penalties upon bachelors, [23] but this could not reverse the trend.

Sparta was above all a militarist state, and emphasis on military fitness began virtually at birth. Shortly after birth, a mother would bathe her child in wine to see whether the child was strong.

If the child survived it was brought before the Gerousia by the child's father. The Gerousia then decided whether it was to be reared or not.

Rather than being an exception, then, it has been the rule. When Spartans died, marked headstones would only be granted to soldiers who died in combat during a victorious campaign or women who died either in service of a divine office or in childbirth.

When male Spartans began military training at age seven, they would enter the agoge system. The agoge was designed to encourage discipline and physical toughness and to emphasize the importance of the Spartan state.

Boys lived in communal messes and, according to Xenophon, whose sons attended the agoge , the boys were fed "just the right amount for them never to become sluggish through being too full, while also giving them a taste of what it is not to have enough.

Special punishments were imposed if boys failed to answer questions sufficiently 'laconically' i. There is some evidence that in late-Classical and Hellenistic Sparta boys were expected to take an older male mentor, usually an unmarried young man.

However, there is no evidence of this in archaic Sparta. According to some sources, the older man was expected to function as a kind of substitute father and role model to his junior partner; however, others believe it was reasonably certain that they had sexual relations the exact nature of Spartan pederasty is not entirely clear.

Post BCE, some Spartan youth apparently became members of an irregular unit known as the Krypteia. The immediate objective of this unit was to seek out and kill vulnerable helot Laconians as part of the larger program of terrorising and intimidating the helot population.

Less information is available about the education of Spartan girls, but they seem to have gone through a fairly extensive formal educational cycle, broadly similar to that of the boys but with less emphasis on military training.

In this respect, classical Sparta was unique in ancient Greece. In no other city-state did women receive any kind of formal education.

At age 20, the Spartan citizen began his membership in one of the syssitia dining messes or clubs , composed of about fifteen members each, of which every citizen was required to be a member.

The Spartans were not eligible for election for public office until the age of Only native Spartans were considered full citizens and were obliged to undergo the training as prescribed by law, as well as participate in and contribute financially to one of the syssitia.

Sparta is thought to be the first city to practice athletic nudity, and some scholars claim that it was also the first to formalize pederasty.

The agoge , the education of the ruling class, was, they claim, founded on pederastic relationships required of each citizen, [] with the lover responsible for the boy's training.

However, other scholars question this interpretation. Xenophon explicitly denies it, [97] but not Plutarch. Spartan men remained in the active reserve until age Men were encouraged to marry at age 20 but could not live with their families until they left their active military service at age They called themselves " homoioi " equals , pointing to their common lifestyle and the discipline of the phalanx , which demanded that no soldier be superior to his comrades.

Spartans buried their battle dead on or near the battle field; corpses were not brought back on their hoplons. Thus the shield was symbolic of the individual soldier's subordination to his unit, his integral part in its success, and his solemn responsibility to his comrades in arms — messmates and friends, often close blood relations.

According to Aristotle, the Spartan military culture was actually short-sighted and ineffective. He observed:. It is the standards of civilized men not of beasts that must be kept in mind, for it is good men not beasts who are capable of real courage.

Those like the Spartans who concentrate on the one and ignore the other in their education turn men into machines and in devoting themselves to one single aspect of city's life, end up making them inferior even in that.

One of the most persistent myths about Sparta that has no basis in fact is the notion that Spartan mothers were without feelings toward their off-spring and helped enforce a militaristic lifestyle on their sons and husbands.

In some of these sayings, mothers revile their sons in insulting language merely for surviving a battle. These sayings purporting to be from Spartan women were far more likely to be of Athenian origin and designed to portray Spartan women as unnatural and so undeserving of pity.

Sparta's agriculture consisted mainly of barley, wine, cheese, grain, and figs. These items were grown locally on each Spartan citizen's kleros and were tended to by helots.

Spartan citizens were required to donate a certain amount of what they yielded from their kleros to their syssitia, or mess.

These donations to the syssitia were a requirement for every Spartan citizen. All the donated food was then redistributed to feed the Spartan population of that syssitia.

The custom was to capture women for marriage The so-called 'bridesmaid' took charge of the captured girl. She first shaved her head to the scalp, then dressed her in a man's cloak and sandals, and laid her down alone on a mattress in the dark.

The bridegroom — who was not drunk and thus not impotent, but was sober as always — first had dinner in the messes, then would slip in, undo her belt, lift her and carry her to the bed.

The husband continued to visit his wife in secret for some time after the marriage. These customs, unique to the Spartans, have been interpreted in various ways.

One of them decidedly supports the need to disguise the bride as a man in order to help the bridegroom consummate the marriage, so unaccustomed were men to women's looks at the time of their first intercourse.

The "abduction" may have served to ward off the evil eye , and the cutting of the wife's hair was perhaps part of a rite of passage that signaled her entrance into a new life.

Spartan women, of the citizenry class, enjoyed a status, power, and respect that was unknown in the rest of the classical world. The higher status of females in Spartan society started at birth; unlike Athens, Spartan girls were fed the same food as their brothers.

The reasons for delaying marriage were to ensure the birth of healthy children, but the effect was to spare Spartan women the hazards and lasting health damage associated with pregnancy among adolescents.

Spartan women, better fed from childhood and fit from exercise, stood a far better chance of reaching old age than their sisters in other Greek cities, where the median age for death was Unlike Athenian women who wore heavy, concealing clothes and were rarely seen outside the house, Spartan women wore dresses peplos slit up the side to allow freer movement and moved freely about the city, either walking or driving chariots.

Girls as well as boys exercised, possibly in the nude, and young women as well as young men may have participated in the Gymnopaedia "Festival of Nude Youths".

In accordance with the Spartan belief that breeding should be between the most physically fit parents, many older men allowed younger, more fit men, to impregnate their wives.

Other unmarried or childless men might even request another man's wife to bear his children if she had previously been a strong child bearer.

The Spartan population was hard to maintain due to the constant absence and loss of the men in battle and the intense physical inspection of newborns.

Spartan women were also literate and numerate, a rarity in the ancient world. Furthermore, as a result of their education and the fact that they moved freely in society engaging with their fellow male citizens, they were notorious for speaking their minds even in public.

Plato goes on to praise Spartan women's ability when it came to philosophical discussion. Most importantly, Spartan women had economic power because they controlled their own properties, and those of their husbands.

Unlike women in Athens, if a Spartan woman became the heiress of her father because she had no living brothers to inherit an epikleros , the woman was not required to divorce her current spouse in order to marry her nearest paternal relative.

Many women played a significant role in the history of Sparta. Herodotus records that as a small girl she advised her father Cleomenes to resist a bribe.

She was later said to be responsible for decoding a warning that the Persian forces were about to invade Greece; after Spartan generals could not decode a wooden tablet covered in wax, she ordered them to clear the wax, revealing the warning.

Laconophilia is love or admiration of Sparta and its culture or constitution. Sparta was subject of considerable admiration in its day, even in rival Athens.

In ancient times "Many of the noblest and best of the Athenians always considered the Spartan state nearly as an ideal theory realised in practice.

With the revival of classical learning in Renaissance Europe , Laconophilia re-appeared, for example in the writings of Machiavelli. The Elizabethan English constitutionalist John Aylmer compared the mixed government of Tudor England to the Spartan republic, stating that "Lacedemonia [was] the noblest and best city governed that ever was".

He commended it as a model for England. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau contrasted Sparta favourably with Athens in his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences , arguing that its austere constitution was preferable to the more sophisticated Athenian life.

Sparta was also used as a model of austere purity by Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. A German racist strain of Laconophilia was initiated by Karl Otfried Müller , who linked Spartan ideals to the supposed racial superiority of the Dorians, the ethnic sub-group of the Greeks to which the Spartans belonged.

In the 20th century, this developed into Fascist admiration of Spartan ideals. Adolf Hitler praised the Spartans, recommending in that Germany should imitate them by limiting "the number allowed to live".

He added that "The Spartans were once capable of such a wise measure The subjugation of , Helots by 6, Spartans was only possible because of the racial superiority of the Spartans.

Certain early Zionists, and particularly the founders of Kibbutz movement in Israel, were influenced by Spartan ideals, particularly in education.

Tabenkin , a founding father of the Kibbutz movement and the Palmach strikeforce, prescribed that education for warfare "should begin from the nursery", that children should from kindergarten be taken to "spend nights in the mountains and valleys".

In modern times, the adjective "spartan" means simple, frugal, avoiding luxury and comfort. Sparta also features prominently in modern popular culture , most famously the Battle of Thermopylae see Battle of Thermopylae in popular culture.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Lacedaemon. This article is about the ancient Greek city-state.

For modern-day Sparta, see Sparta, Laconia. For other uses, see Sparta disambiguation. For other uses, see Spartan disambiguation.

City-state in ancient Greece. The letter lambda was used by the Spartan army as a symbol of Lacedaemon. Ephors Gerousia.

Main article: Menelaion. Main article: History of Sparta. Main article: Spartan Constitution. Main article: Helots.

Main article: Perioeci. Main article: Agoge. Main articles: Spartan army and Spartiate. Main article: Women in ancient Sparta.

Main article: Laconophilia. The metics, i. There an amphitheatre was built in the 3rd century AD to observe the ritual whipping of Spartan youths.

History of western philosophy. Word study tool of Ancient languages. University of Oslo. In Bakker, Egbert J. A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language.

Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Etymological Dictionary of Greek. With the assistance of Lucien van Beek.

Leiden, Boston: Brill. Archived from the original on Retrieved Lefkowitz, Mary R. Black Athena Revisited.

The University of North Carolina Press. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project. A Dictionary of Ancient Geography [etc.

Robinson [etc. Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon in Greek. Jena: Frederick Mauk. Contributions toward a History of Arabico-Gothic Culture.

In Chisholm, Hugh ed. Cambridge University Press. David Cartwright, p. Franz Steiner Verlag. Encyclopedia Of Ancient Greece.

Routledge UK. Matthew Bennett, p. By Agnes Savill. In Pohlenz, M. Tusculanae Disputationes in Latin. Spartan ascendancy did not last long. By the end of the 5th century BC, Sparta had suffered serious casualties in the Peloponnesian Wars, and its conservative and narrow mentality alienated many of its former allies.

At the same time, its military class — the Spartiate caste — was in decline for several reasons:. As Sparta's military power waned, Thebes repeatedly challenged its authority.

The ensuing Corinthian War led to the humiliating Peace of Antalcidas that destroyed Sparta's reputation as the protector of the independence of Greek city-states.

At the same time, Spartan military prestige suffered a severe blow when a mora of men was decimated by peltasts light troops under the command of the Athenian general Iphicrates.

Spartan authority finally collapsed after their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Leuctra by the Thebans commanded by Epaminondas in BC.

The battle, in which large numbers of Spartiates were killed, resulted in the loss of the fertile Messenia region.

The Spartan people the " Lacedaemonians " were divided into three classes:. The Spartiates were the core of the Spartan army: they participated in the Assembly Apella and provided the hoplites in the army.

Indeed, they were supposed to be soldiers and nothing else, being forbidden to learn and exercise any other trade.

The Spartiate population was subdivided into age groups. The youngest at 20 were counted as weaker due to lack of experience, and the oldest, up to 60 or in a crisis 65, were only called up in an emergency, to defend the baggage train.

The principal source for the organization of the Spartan Army is Xenophon , who admired the Spartans and whose Constitution of Sparta offers a detailed overview of the Spartan state and society at the beginning of the 4th century BC.

Other authors, notably Thucydides , also provide information, but it is not always as reliable as Xenophon's first-hand accounts. Little is known of the earlier organisation, and much is left open to speculation.

The earliest form of social and military organization during the 7th century BC seems to have been the three tribes phylai : the Pamphyloi , Hylleis and Dymanes , who appear in the Second Messenian War — BC.

A further subdivision was the "fraternity" phratra , of which 27, or nine per tribe, are recorded. Four lochoi formed a mora of men under a polemarchos , the largest single tactical unit of the Spartan army.

The full army was normally led in battle by the two kings ; initially, both went on campaign, but after the 6th century BC only one, with the other remaining at home.

Despite their title, they were infantry hoplites like all Spartiatai. Indeed, the Spartans did not utilize a cavalry of their own until late into the Peloponnesian War , when small units of 60 cavalrymen were attached to each mora.

They were selected every year by specially commissioned officials, the hippagretai , from among experienced men who had sons, so that their line would continue.

At first, in the archaic period of — BC, education for both sexes was, as in most Greek states , centred on the arts, with the male citizen population later receiving military education.

However, from the 6th century onwards, the military character of the state became more pronounced, and education was totally subordinated to the needs of the military.

Both boys and girls were brought up by the city women until the age of seven, when boys paidia were taken from their mothers and grouped together in "packs" agelai and were sent to what is almost equivalent to present-day military boot camp.

This military camp was known as the Agoge. They became inured to hardship, being provided with scant food and clothing; this also encouraged them to steal, and if they were caught, they were punished — not for stealing, but for being caught.

In addition, they were taught to read and write and learned the songs of Tyrtaios , that celebrated Spartan exploits in the Second Messenian War.

They learned to read and write not for cultural reasons, but so they could be able to read military maps. His physical education was intensified, discipline became much harsher, and the boys were loaded with extra tasks.

The youths had to go barefoot, and were dressed only in a tunic both in summer and in winter. Adulthood was reached at the age of 18, and the young adult eiren initially served as a trainer for the boys.

At the same time, the most promising youths were included in the Krypteia. If they survived the two years in the countryside they would become full blown soldiers.

At 20, Spartans became eligible for military service and joined one of the messes syssitia , which included 15 men of various ages. However, even after that, and even during marriage and until about the age of 30, they would spend most of their day in the barracks with their unit.

Military duty lasted until the 60th year, but there are recorded cases of older people participating in campaigns in times of crisis.

Throughout their adult lives, the Spartiates continued to be subject to a training regime so strict that, as Plutarch says, " Like the armies of the other Greek states, the Spartan army was an infantry-based army that fought using the phalanx formation.

The Spartans themselves did not introduce any significant changes or tactical innovations in hoplite warfare, but their constant drill and superb discipline made their phalanx much more cohesive and effective.

The Spartans employed the phalanx in the classical style in a single line, uniformly deep in files of 8 to 12 men.

When fighting alongside their allies, the Spartans would normally occupy the honorary right flank. If, as usually happened, the Spartans achieved victory on their side, they would then wheel left and roll up the enemy formation.

During the Peloponnesian War, engagements became more fluid, light troops became increasingly used and tactics evolved to meet them, but in direct confrontations between two opposing phalanxes, stamina and "pushing ability" were what counted.

According to Xenophon , the army was mobilized by the ephors , and after a series of religious ceremonies and sacrifices, the army assembled and set out.

To the Spartans, long hair retained its older Archaic meaning as the symbol of a free man; to the other Greeks, by the 5th century, its peculiar association with the Spartans had come to signify pro-Spartan sympathies.

The technical evolution and design of Spartan shields evolved from bashing and shield wall tactics, and were of such great importance in the Spartan army that while losing a sword and a spear was an exception, to lose a shield was a sign of disgrace.

Not only does it protect the user, but it also protects the whole phalanx formation. To come home without the shield was the mark of a deserter; rhipsaspia or "dropping the shield", was a synonym for desertion in the field.

Spartan hoplites were often depicted bearing a transverse horsehair crest on their helmet, which was possibly used to identify officers.

During the later 5th century BC, when warfare had become more flexible and full-scale phalanx confrontations became rarer, the Greeks abandoned most forms of body armor.

The Spartan's main weapon was the dory spear. For long range, they carried a javelin. The Spartiates were always armed with a xiphos as a secondary weapon.

Among most Greek warriors, this weapon had an iron blade of about 60 centimeters; however, the Spartan version was typically only 30—45 centimetres.

The Spartans' shorter weapon proved deadly in the crush caused by colliding phalanxes formations — it was capable of being thrust through gaps in the enemy's shield wall and armor, where there was no room for longer weapons.

The groin and throat were among the favorite targets. In one account, an Athenian asked a Spartan why his sword was so short and after a short pause he replied, "It's long enough to reach your heart.

As an alternative to the xiphos, some Spartans selected the kopis as their secondary weapon. Unlike the xiphos, which is a thrusting weapon, the kopis was a hacking weapon in the form of a thick, curved iron sword.

In Athenian art, Spartan hoplites were often depicted using a kopis instead of the xiphos, as the kopis was seen as a quintessential "bad guys" weapon in Greek eyes.

Spartans trained in pankration , a famous martial art in Ancient Greece that consisted of boxing and grappling.

Spartans were so adept in pankration that, when it was inducted in the Olympic Games , they were mostly forbidden to compete.

During the Hellenistic period Spartan equipment evolved drastically. Since the early 3th century BC the pilos helmet had become almost standard within the Spartan army, being in use by the Spartans until the end of the Classical era.

Also after the "Iphicratean reforms" peltasts became a much more common sight on the Greek battlefield and themselves became more heavily armed.

In response to Iphicrates ' victory over Sparta in BC , Spartan hoplites started abandoning body armour and eventually wore almost no armour apart from a shield, leg greaves, bracelets, helmet and a robe.

In later periods Spartans did start to readopt armour, but on a much lesser scale than during the Archaic period. Finally during BC, Cleomenes' reforms introduced updated equipment to Sparta, including the Macedonian sarissa pike.

However pike-men armed with the sarissa never outnumbered troops equipped in the hoplite style. It was also in that time Sparta adopted its own cavalry and archers.

Contrary to popular belief, Spartans valued knowledge and education more than the Athenians did. Although Athens has been praised as the "inventor" of democracy and philosophy, Sparta often has been viewed in popular culture as a society characterized by brutal, mindless discipline and merciless emphasis on physical fitness.

In the Appella or Demos as early as BC, Spartans elect leaders and voted by range voting and shouting. Every male age 30 and above could participate.

Aristotle called the Spartan electoral process "childish" in contrast to the stone ballots cast by the Athenians.

Sparta adopted its procedure for the sake of simplicity, and to prevent any bias voting, bribing, or cheating that was predominant in the early democratic elections.

The Spartan public education system, the agoge , trained the mind as well as the body. Spartans were not only literate, but admired for their intellectual culture and poetry.

Socrates said the "most ancient and fertile homes of philosophy among the Greeks are Crete and Sparta, where are found more sophists than anywhere on earth.

Self-discipline, not kadavergehorsam mindless obedience was the goal of Spartan education. Sparta placed the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity at the center of their ethical system.

These values applied to every full Spartan citizen, immigrant, merchant, and even to the helots , but not to the dishonored. Helots are unique in the history of slavery in that unlike traditional slaves, they were allowed to keep and gain wealth.

They could keep half their agricultural produce and presumably sell it; thus accumulating wealth. There are known to have been some occasions that a helot with enough money was allowed to purchase their freedom from the state.

The Spartan hoplite followed a strict laconic code of honor. No soldier was considered superior to another.

Recklessness could lead to dishonor, as in the case of Aristodemus. Dishonored Spartans were labeled outcasts, and were forced to wear different clothing for public humiliation.

Throughout their history, the Spartans were a land based force par excellence. During the Persian Wars, they contributed a small navy of 20 triremes , and provided the overall fleet commander, but they largely relied on their allies, primarily the Corinthians , for naval power.

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From Contributor separated by comma. Keywords separated by comma. Reset All Filters. Spartan helmet symbol of a warrior. On the image is presented spartan helmet symbol of a warrior Spartan symbol.

Sword spear helmet Spartan spirit. Symbol, logo. Nothing distinctive in the archaeology of the Eurotas River Valley identifies the Dorians or the Dorian Spartan state.

The legendary period of Spartan history is believed to fall into the Dark Age. It treats the mythic heroes such as the Heraclids and the Perseids , offering a view of the occupation of the Peloponnesus that contains both fantastic and possibly historical elements.

The subsequent proto-historic period, combining both legend and historical fragments, offers the first credible history.

Between the 8th and 7th centuries BCE the Spartans experienced a period of lawlessness and civil strife, later attested by both Herodotus and Thucydides.

During the following centuries, Sparta's reputation as a land-fighting force was unequalled. The likely total of 40,—50, made Sparta one of the larger Greek city-states; [33] [34] however, according to Thucydides, the population of Athens in BCE was ,—,, making it much larger.

In BCE a small force led by King Leonidas about full Spartiates, Thespians, and Thebans, although these numbers were lessened by earlier casualties made a legendary last stand at the Battle of Thermopylae against the massive Persian army, inflicting very high casualties on the Persian forces before finally being overwhelmed.

Even though this war was won by a pan-Greek army, credit was given to Sparta, who besides providing the leading forces at Thermopylae and Plataea, had been the de facto leader of the entire Greek expedition.

In later Classical times, Sparta along with Athens , Thebes , and Persia were the main powers fighting for supremacy in the northeastern Mediterranean.

In the course of the Peloponnesian War , Sparta, a traditional land power, acquired a navy which managed to overpower the previously dominant flotilla of Athens, ending the Athenian Empire.

At the peak of its power in the early 4th century BCE, Sparta had subdued many of the main Greek states and even invaded the Persian provinces in Anatolia modern day Turkey , a period known as the Spartan Hegemony.

The alliance was initially backed by Persia, which feared further Spartan expansion into Asia. The event severely damaged Sparta's naval power but did not end its aspirations of invading further into Persia, until Conon the Athenian ravaged the Spartan coastline and provoked the old Spartan fear of a helot revolt.

After a few more years of fighting, in BCE the Peace of Antalcidas was established, according to which all Greek cities of Ionia would return to Persian control, and Persia's Asian border would be free of the Spartan threat.

This was the first time that a full strength Spartan army lost a land battle. As Spartan citizenship was inherited by blood, Sparta increasingly faced a helot population that vastly outnumbered its citizens.

The alarming decline of Spartan citizens was commented on by Aristotle. Sparta never fully recovered from its losses at Leuctra in BCE and the subsequent helot revolts.

Nonetheless, it was able to continue as a regional power for over two centuries. Even during its decline, Sparta never forgot its claim to be the "defender of Hellenism" and its Laconic wit.

When Philip created the League of Corinth on the pretext of unifying Greece against Persia, the Spartans chose not to join, since they had no interest in joining a pan-Greek expedition unless it were under Spartan leadership.

Thus, upon defeating the Persians at the Battle of the Granicus , Alexander the Great sent to Athens suits of Persian armour with the following inscription: "Alexander, son of Philip, and all the Greeks except the Spartans, give these offerings taken from the foreigners who live in Asia".

A large Macedonian army under general Antipater marched to its relief and defeated the Spartan-led force in a pitched battle.

On his knees, the Spartan king slew several enemy soldiers before being finally killed by a javelin. Spartan political independence was put to an end when it was eventually forced into the Achaean League after its defeat in the decisive Laconian War by a coalition of other Greek city-states and Rome and the resultant overthrow of its final king Nabis.

Subsequently, Sparta became a free city under Roman rule, some of the institutions of Lycurgus were restored, [49] and the city became a tourist attraction for the Roman elite who came to observe exotic Spartan customs.

In CE Roman emperor Caracalla , in his preparation for his campaign against Parthia , recruited a man Spartan cohort lokhos. Herodian described this unit as a phalanx , implying it fought like the old Spartans as hoplites, or even as a Macedonian phalanx.

Despite this, a gravestone of a fallen legionary named Marcus Aurelius Alexys shows him lightly armed, with a pilos-like cap and a wooden club.

The unit was presumably discharged in after Caracalla was assassinated. Doric -speaking populations survive today in Tsakonia.

In the Middle Ages, the political and cultural center of Laconia shifted to the nearby settlement of Mystras , and Sparta fell further in even local importance.

Modern Sparti was re-founded in , by a decree of King Otto of Greece. Sparta was an oligarchy. The state was ruled by two hereditary kings of the Agiad and Eurypontid families , [57] both supposedly descendants of Heracles and equal in authority, so that one could not act against the power and political enactments of his colleague.

The duties of the kings were primarily religious, judicial, and military. As chief priests of the state, they maintained communication with the Delphian sanctuary, whose pronouncements exercised great authority in Spartan politics.

In the time of Herodotus c. Aristotle describes the kingship at Sparta as "a kind of unlimited and perpetual generalship" Pol. Civil and criminal cases were decided by a group of officials known as the ephors , as well as a council of elders known as the gerousia.

The gerousia consisted of 28 elders over the age of 60, elected for life and usually part of the royal households, and the two kings. Royal prerogatives were curtailed over time.

From the period of the Persian wars, the king lost the right to declare war and was accompanied in the field by two ephors.

He was supplanted by the ephors also in the control of foreign policy. Over time, the kings became mere figureheads except in their capacity as generals.

Political power was transferred to the ephors and gerousia. An assembly of citizens called the a pella [23] was responsible for electing men to the gerousia for life.

The Spartan education process known as the agoge was essential for full citizenship. However, usually the only boys eligible for the agoge were Spartiates , those who could trace their ancestry to the original inhabitants of the city.

There were two exceptions. Trophimoi or "foster sons" were foreign students invited to study. The Athenian general Xenophon , for example, sent his two sons to Sparta as trophimoi.

Also, the son of a helot could be enrolled as a syntrophos [61] if a Spartiate formally adopted him and paid his way; if he did exceptionally well in training, he might be sponsored to become a Spartiate.

These laws meant that Sparta could not readily replace citizens lost in battle or otherwise, which eventually proved near fatal as citizens became greatly outnumbered by non-citizens, and even more dangerously by helots.

The other classes were the perioikoi , free inhabitants who were non-citizens, and the helots , [63] state-owned serfs. Descendants of non-Spartan citizens were forbidden the agoge.

The Spartans were a minority of the Lakonian population. The helots were originally free Greeks from the areas of Messenia and Lakonia whom the Spartans had defeated in battle and subsequently enslaved.

In contrast to populations conquered by other Greek cities e. Instead, the helots were given a subordinate position in society more comparable to serfs in medieval Europe than chattel slaves in the rest of Greece.

Helots did not have voting or political rights. In other Greek city-states, free citizens were part-time soldiers who, when not at war, carried on other trades.

Since Spartan men were full-time soldiers, they were not available to carry out manual labour. Helot women were often used as wet nurses. Helots also travelled with the Spartan army as non-combatant serfs.

At the last stand of the Battle of Thermopylae , the Greek dead included not just the legendary three hundred Spartan soldiers but also several hundred Thespian and Theban troops and a number of helots.

Relations between the helots and their Spartan masters were sometimes strained. There was at least one helot revolt c.

Slave revolts occurred elsewhere in the Greek world, and in BCE 20, Athenian slaves ran away to join the Spartan forces occupying Attica.

As the Spartiate population declined and the helot population continued to grow, the imbalance of power caused increasing tension. They assign to the Helots every shameful task leading to disgrace.

Moreover, if any exceeded the vigour proper to a slave's condition, they made death the penalty; and they allotted a punishment to those controlling them if they failed to rebuke those who were growing fat.

Plutarch also states that Spartans treated the Helots "harshly and cruelly": they compelled them to drink pure wine which was considered dangerous — wine usually being cut with water " Each year when the Ephors took office, they ritually declared war on the helots, allowing Spartans to kill them without risk of ritual pollution.

The helots were invited by a proclamation to pick out those of their number who claimed to have most distinguished themselves against the enemy, in order that they might receive their freedom; the object being to test them, as it was thought that the first to claim their freedom would be the most high spirited and the most apt to rebel.

As many as two thousand were selected accordingly, who crowned themselves and went round the temples, rejoicing in their new freedom.

The Spartans, however, soon afterwards did away with them, and no one ever knew how each of them perished. The Perioikoi came from similar origins as the helots but occupied a significantly different position in Spartan society.

Although they did not enjoy full citizen-rights, they were free and not subjected to the same restrictions as the helots. The exact nature of their subjection to the Spartans is not clear, but they seem to have served partly as a kind of military reserve, partly as skilled craftsmen and partly as agents of foreign trade.

Full citizen Spartiates were barred by law from trade or manufacture, which consequently rested in the hands of the Perioikoi.

Allegedly, Spartans were prohibited from possessing gold and silver coins, and according to legend Spartan currency consisted of iron bars to discourage hoarding.

Allegedly as part of the Lycurgan Reforms in the mid-8th century BCE, a massive land reform had divided property into 9, equal portions.

Each citizen received one estate, a kleros , which was expected to provide his living. From the other half, the Spartiate was expected to pay his mess syssitia fees, and the agoge fees for his children.

However, we know nothing of matters of wealth such as how land was bought, sold, and inherited, or whether daughters received dowries. Attempts were made to remedy this by imposing legal penalties upon bachelors, [23] but this could not reverse the trend.

Sparta was above all a militarist state, and emphasis on military fitness began virtually at birth. Shortly after birth, a mother would bathe her child in wine to see whether the child was strong.

If the child survived it was brought before the Gerousia by the child's father. The Gerousia then decided whether it was to be reared or not.

Rather than being an exception, then, it has been the rule. When Spartans died, marked headstones would only be granted to soldiers who died in combat during a victorious campaign or women who died either in service of a divine office or in childbirth.

When male Spartans began military training at age seven, they would enter the agoge system. The agoge was designed to encourage discipline and physical toughness and to emphasize the importance of the Spartan state.

Boys lived in communal messes and, according to Xenophon, whose sons attended the agoge , the boys were fed "just the right amount for them never to become sluggish through being too full, while also giving them a taste of what it is not to have enough.

Special punishments were imposed if boys failed to answer questions sufficiently 'laconically' i. There is some evidence that in late-Classical and Hellenistic Sparta boys were expected to take an older male mentor, usually an unmarried young man.

However, there is no evidence of this in archaic Sparta. According to some sources, the older man was expected to function as a kind of substitute father and role model to his junior partner; however, others believe it was reasonably certain that they had sexual relations the exact nature of Spartan pederasty is not entirely clear.

Post BCE, some Spartan youth apparently became members of an irregular unit known as the Krypteia. The immediate objective of this unit was to seek out and kill vulnerable helot Laconians as part of the larger program of terrorising and intimidating the helot population.

Less information is available about the education of Spartan girls, but they seem to have gone through a fairly extensive formal educational cycle, broadly similar to that of the boys but with less emphasis on military training.

In this respect, classical Sparta was unique in ancient Greece. In no other city-state did women receive any kind of formal education.

At age 20, the Spartan citizen began his membership in one of the syssitia dining messes or clubs , composed of about fifteen members each, of which every citizen was required to be a member.

The Spartans were not eligible for election for public office until the age of Only native Spartans were considered full citizens and were obliged to undergo the training as prescribed by law, as well as participate in and contribute financially to one of the syssitia.

Sparta is thought to be the first city to practice athletic nudity, and some scholars claim that it was also the first to formalize pederasty.

The agoge , the education of the ruling class, was, they claim, founded on pederastic relationships required of each citizen, [] with the lover responsible for the boy's training.

However, other scholars question this interpretation. Xenophon explicitly denies it, [97] but not Plutarch. Spartan men remained in the active reserve until age Men were encouraged to marry at age 20 but could not live with their families until they left their active military service at age They called themselves " homoioi " equals , pointing to their common lifestyle and the discipline of the phalanx , which demanded that no soldier be superior to his comrades.

Spartans buried their battle dead on or near the battle field; corpses were not brought back on their hoplons. The seal shows an ancient Greek Corfiot sailing ship.

The flag, on which the image shown above is based, had a ratio of A trident, traditional emblem of the island,surrounded by two dolphins on a blue and orange fond.

The flag of Kastelorizo , used as an ensign for ships from Kastelorizo during the Greek War of Independence , now a municipal flag. The flag of Hydra island , used as an ensign for ships from Hydra during the Greek War of Independence , now a municipal flag.

The flag of Psara , used as an ensign for ships from Psara during the Greek War of Independence , now a municipal flag.

White cloth bordered with red with a large red cross and the inscriptions of the motto Eleftheria i Thanatos Liberty or Death in capital red letters.

The cross is standing on an upside down crescent, symbolizing the Ottoman Empire , flanked on one side by a lance, on the other by an anchor, around which is coiled a serpent eating a bird.

The flag of Spetses , used as an ensign for ships from Spetses during the Greek War of Independence , now a municipal flag.

This design appeared in the uprising, based on older patterns. Used among others by the Kolokotronis family, this flag, with variations, was the most widely used throughout Greece during the initial stages of the revolution.

First flag of the Greek Merchant Navy , adopted in January In it was discontinued, as it was decided that the cross-and-stripes naval flag today's national flag should be flown by both military and merchant ships.

In January , the First National Assembly at Epidaurus adopted this design to replace the multitude of local revolutionary flags then in use.

Since , this flag was flown inside the country, while the current flag was flown on naval vessels and abroad. White cross on a blue field.

During the periods of monarchy — and — , a golden crown was often added in the centre of official flags see examples below.

Royal standard for use on ships during most of the reign of King Otto , adopted in The flag consists of the plain cross version of the national flag in proportions, [4] with the Bavarian arms of the Wittelsbach dynasty superimposed in the center of the cross, topped by a crown.

The blue color is of a lighter shade than usual today. Royal standard for use on ships during the late reign of King Otto , adopted in The flag consists of the plain cross version of the national flag in proportions, [5] with the Bavarian arms of the Wittelsbach dynasty superimposed in the center of the cross, topped by a crown.

War ensign at sea during most of the reign of King Otto , adopted in The flag consists of the naval version of the national flag in proportions, [4] with the Bavarian arms of the Wittelsbach dynasty superimposed in the center of the cross, topped by a golden royal crown superimposed in the canton.

The shade of blue is undefined, but was usually of a lighter shade. War ensign at sea during the late reign of King Otto , adopted in The flag consists of the naval version of the national flag in proportions, [5] with the Bavarian arms of the Wittelsbach dynasty superimposed in the center of the cross, topped by a golden royal crown superimposed in the canton.

Royal standard reported during the early years of King George I's reign. Standard used by King George I of Greece. The flag consists of the plain cross version of the national flag, with a Royal Coat of Arms of Greece superimposed in the center of the cross.

Royal Standard of the King, adopted in The flag was made redundant after the abolition of the monarchy in Following the restoration of the monarchy in , the decrees regarding Greek flags and those of the royal family were reinstated by decree of 7 November This flag was replaced in with a new design.

Behind the arms are two crossed Field Marshal 's batons. Standard used by the Crown Prince, adopted in Standard of the Queen of Greece in this case, showing the arms of Sophia of Prussia , adopted in Standard used by the other members of the royal family, adopted in The flag of the Minister of Naval Affairs , adopted in Like the Navy jack, with the Royal Family arms in the centre and four crowns in the quarters.

Standard of the Crown Prince, adopted in Like the Navy jack, with the Greek Royal Family arms in the centre and one crown in the first quarter.

Standard used by the Greek Royal Family , adopted in Like the Navy jack, with the Greek Royal Family arms in the centre but no crown.

Royal version of the State Flag during the Kingdom of Greece. The flag consists of the plain cross version of the national flag, with a detailed golden royal crown superimposed in the center of the cross.

The field is bordered by a gold fringe. State and War flag of the Kingdom of Greece. The flag consists of a white cross on a field of blue with a golden royal crown superimposed in the center of the cross.

Jack of the Royal Hellenic Navy.

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