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The Spartans The "Spartans," who were they, where did they come from and what did they accomplish for Greece and, in time modern society. All these questions I hope to answer in my investigation. I found the Spartan, very interesting when I first encountered them in "The Odyssey" by Homer, where we hear of "Helen of Sparta," the partner of both "Paris of Troy" and his enemy and his city's enemy "Menelaus of Sparta." The entire war in fact broke out because Helen ran away with Paris and the whole of Greece was dragged into what at first was a personal feud. Had this not happened none of the Odyssey would have taken place and the old fable like story, as it seems to have developed, of the giant wooden horse outside the city walls of Troy at the end of Trojan war. Therefore, in only looking at one person in Spartan history we can see how much the city affected our modern society. Although Athens is one of the most interesting and exciting ancient cities according to some modern scholars, interest in Sparta is becoming greater and greater and this is clear by looking at such recent TV series as Channel Four's "Sparta," researched and presented by Bethany Hughes. In addition, I must add that it is not all of a sudden this interest has occurred but it has gradually grown and more and more books are being published all the time, debating the ways of life in Sparta. Where is Sparta? Sparta is in the southern, mountainous regions of Greece. In addition, as you can see from the diagram, it was, and still is, fairly close to its neighbouring cities Mystras especially. In fact the word "Sparta" is actually often used to refer to the whole of the southern half of the Pepoponnese, (the whole peninsula of Southern Greece) but this is politically incorrect.
To help him in this task he was supported by a group of young men over the age of eighteen (eurens) who were armed with whips. Their job was only to correct those who behaved badly in some way. In the normal course of events the day-to-day activities of the platoon were organised by prefects (or platoon captains, this is still very similar to the set-up of military schools, etc). In their job these older boys, selected because they had shown good conduct and particular courage throughout their own early education. They had the right to give orders and administer punishment to anyone who disobeyed them (there are talks of such occurrences in the book "The Guardians" by John Christopher where, unofficially, the prefects of the higher years administer punishments without hesitation). In general the primary stage of education was very simple, it was to develop the physical strength of the minors and teach them to live together and show obedience. So instead of having lessons as we would understand them, young Spartan children went through an experience like living all year in a scout camp. They learnt how to look after themselves, how to get on with other people, how to respond promptly to orders and how to share responsibilities. Apart from these teachings in living the Spartan way, the only other important part of this early education was physical exercise and training in athletics. Wearing only light tunics, with no shoes and with their hair close shaven, the 7-and 8-year olds were put through the preliminary stages of training designed to turn them into Spartan heroes. When the boys reached the age of twelve their education became more intense in the sense that it was even more disciplined and harsh. Even in wintertime they were permitted to have only their one tunic/garment. This was probably, however, a rough tunic thicker than the one they normally wore in summer. But winters in Greece were cold, (although probably not as cold as Scottish winters,)
Countless democrats were put to death. At Athens itself, Spartans demolished the long walls which for 50 years had protected the city from fear of siege, joining it to the sea. Flute girls, entertainers of the rich, played happy music as the walls came crashing down. The march of The Ten Thousand When war began between Athens and Sparta ended many Greek soldiers found themselves unemployed. To earn a living, about ten thousand of them went to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) to fight for a Persian (Modern Iranian) prince, Kyros. But Kyros was killed and the Greek soldiers found themselves abandoned, very far from home in the hostile Persian Empire. The Ten thousand marched north-west, through enemy attacks and foul weather, for about 1000 km. Only a few of them were killed. At last the men at the front of the marching column shouted in excitement "The sea, the sea." They had seen the Eastern Black Sea, still very far from mainland Greece. But being seafarers the Greeks were now confident of getting home. The nightmare of endless Asia was now over! Conclusion I have enjoyed studying the Spartans and have learnt lots about them and how Greeks' lifestyles were very different and they weren't always that similar to the Athenians, who are the most famous of the Greek civilisations. The only thing that seems to have been the same all through Greece was the fact they all worshipped the same Gods. These Gods who are still fairly famous and interesting to the modern world. And not just these, but in many things the Greeks have influenced us very much and the Spartans very much influenced these Greeks so although not always directly they did influence us very much and some of their ways of live have become part of modern life nowadays. I feel knowing a lot more on this topic I have not only increased my general knowledge, but increased my interest in the Ancient Greeks. I also think that the way in which I regard people and civilisations in general will be in a different light.
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