Greece for Kids
Remember the Dorian people who ruled ancient Greece
during the Grecian Dark Ages? Sparta began as a small village of Dorian
Life was very different in ancient Sparta than it was
in the rest of ancient Greek city-states. The Spartans were proud,
fierce, capable warriors. No great works of art came out of Sparta.
But the Spartans, both men and women, were tough, and the Greeks
Sparta's government was an oligarchy. The
people were ruled by a small group of warriors. The Spartans spoke
Greek, wrote Greek, thought of themselves as Greeks, but they were
In most of the other Greek city-states,
the goal of education was to create a strong citizen of that city-state.
In Sparta, the goal of education was to create a strong
All of the ancient Greeks were
warriors, but Sparta's warriors were legendary.
In Sparta, boys were taken away
from their parents at age 7. They lived a harsh and often brutal
life in the soldiers barracks. Younger children were beaten by
older children who started fights to help make the younger
boys strong. Children were often were whipped in front of
groups of other Spartans, including their parents, but they were
not allowed to cry out in pain.
Girls went to school too, to learn
how to fight. They lived at home during training. Their training
was not as harsh and the boy's, but it was harsh enough. Sparta
women were warriors.
Children, during their training
process, were given very little food. They were encouraged to
steal food, instead. If caught stealing, they were beaten.
Spartan children learned to be cunning, to lie, to cheat, to
steal, and how to get away with it! The Spartans did this to
train more capable warriors. After all, warriors are not much good if
they cannot stay alive to fight as long as possible. The training
process was very tough for that reason.
As adults, Spartan men did not live
with their families. They visited their families, but men lived in
the soldiers' barracks.
As adults, Spartan women, unlike
women in the rest of Greek world, had a great deal of
freedom. Many ran businesses. Sparta women were free to move
about and visit neighbors without permission from their husbands.
How would they get permission? The men were often off
Sparta (British Museum)