Sparta was a powerful city-state in
Sparta was ruled by a small group of
retired warriors. This type of government is called an oligarchy. The
Spartans spoke Greek. They thought of themselves as Greeks. But Sparta
was very different from the other Greek city-states.
All citizens in ancient Greece were
warriors. But the Spartans were the best warriors in all of Greece.
There was no argument about that. The city-state of Sparta was
basically a well-trained army. In other city-states, children entered
military school at age 18. In Sparta, they entered at age 6. The girls
were taught how to fight as well. Their school was separate from the
boys' school. It was not as brutal, perhaps. But still, the girls
learned how to fight and steal and lie and kill - skills that could
save their lives in times of war.
The Spartans were tough.
Men and male children, from the age of
6, lived in the soldiers' barracks until they retired from military
service. The men were often off fighting. The women were left behind
to guard their homes. Perhaps because of this, women in ancient Sparta
had a great deal of freedom. They ran businesses. They were free to
move around and visit neighbors without asking their husbands
The other Greek
city-states had no desire to be Spartans. Many thought they were
military fanatics, but they admired their strength. Most wanted Sparta
on their side. No incredible works of art were created in Sparta as
they were in other Greek city-states. But Spartans were good friends
to have in times of war.
Sparta (British Museum)