Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 21

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:

Spartans were very superstitious.

Most of these superstitions were tied to warfare. Their business might have been exclusively war, but they weren’t so reckless as to charge into a fight without the backing of the gods. After all, if anyone knew the cost of war, they did. In fact, in 432 BC, King Archidamus hesitated to declare war against the Athenians. (He eventually got outvoted and led the campaign himself).

At any rate, commanders did not lead the charge unless their priests received favorable signs, and every military army had a herd of sacrificial animals to discern the will of the gods at any time. Border campaign sometimes got stopped because of unpropitious sacrifices. Eclipses and earthquakes have also put an end to campaigns.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!


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