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What was the relationship between the Spartans, Helots and Perioikoi

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Introduction

What was the relationship between the Spartans, Helots and Perioikoi? The Spartans were the only full time army in ancient Greece and were thus truly an elite force. The institutions of the state and the system of education were organized with a view to creating superbly trained soldiers. Their need of trained soldiers was much needed to enhance law and order. They needed to keep the helots at bay because they out numbered the Spartans. In this essay I will discuss the relationship of the different classes in the Spartan system: Helots, Perioikoi and the Spartan citizens. The Helots were the peoples who inhabited the lands of Messenia, which neighboured Sparta. Messenia was conquered by the Spartans in 640-620 BC. The Helots lived on the land of the Homoioi (elite Spartans) families. Their main duty was agricultural. They were responsible for farming the land and supplying a fixed quota of produce annually. This allowed the Spartans to focus their attention on their military training. It was considered beneath the Homoioi to work the land. As a military society the Spartans relied heavily on the Helots to provide the necessary food and provisions. ...read more.

Middle

Politically and legally Helots had no rights at all. The state was free to send them or dispose of them wherever they saw fit. The Helots could not vote and could not hold property. Helots out numbered Homoioi at least twenty to one and were therefore the subject of continual suspicion. The Spartans created an elite secret police known as the Krypteria. The Krypteria were responsible for keeping the Helots under control. We are told by Plutarch that every year the Spartan Ephors declared war on the Helots and sporadically launched campaigns of terror and violence against them. "The Ephors would declare war on the Helots, so that they could be killed without pollution." In conclusion the helots were the slaves and property of the Spartan state that were in charge of the Spartan agriculture system they were basically the backbone of Spartan life in the sense that with out food Spartan citizens would starve. Above the helots in status, were the Perioikoi. Ephorus says that they were the original Achaeaii inhabitants of the country, that for the first generation after the Dorian invasion they shared in the status with the invaders. ...read more.

Conclusion

After 11 years of training they joined the active army and lived in the local barracks until age 30. Once they turned 30 the state gave them land, a house, and helots to work the land. Because of the pressures of keeping the Helots down Spartan society needed to be left alone. If too many Spartan males left or were killed then the Helots would rise up. Spartans used Iron currency since no one else would want it. While the rest of Greece switched to trade, the Spartan Helots remained farmers. Sparta is a perfect democracy since every citizen receives the same wealth. They all vote and they can all hold government positions. In conclusion I feel that the Spartan society treated the Helots as dirt and they only had respect for them when they were fighting at their side. How ever they did rely on the Helots to provide the food for the Spartan army. The Spartans treated the Perioikoi much better than the Helots because they were half citizens, the Perioikoi were by far the best friends Spartans had because they did not revolt and they even fought in battle many times. Therefore the helots were in Spartan eyes as scum of the earth and the Perioikoi were half citizens who had some privileges. ...read more.

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