Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 5

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

Agoge training was notoriously brutal.

Probably the most famous story connected to the Agoge was that of the Spartan boy who stole a fox. The Agoge had a policy of underfeeding students to encourage them to steal (thus teaching them to be cunning). Of course, the students got punished severely if caught. In the case of the boy and the fox, an instructor showed up so the boy hid the animal beneath his clothes. Unfortunately, the panicked fox fought to escape, and the boy, rather than admit to his instructor that he was hiding him, let the animal claw him and wound up dying from his injuries.

While some scholars question the veracity of this story (because a fox isn’t exactly something you can steal), the Agoge’s policy of underfeeding to encourage stealing is well recorded.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!

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