Category Archives: Spartan Life

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 22

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:

Spartan warriors wore their hair long.

It was as much a part of their military look as their standard issue red cloak. Primping isn’t something we associate with readying for battle, but when danger loomed, Spartan warriors would take particular care of their long locks and decorate their weapons and clothes as well.

And that concludes this series on the Spartan citizens! For those interested in learning more about them, these are some sources I used in my research:

The Spartans, documentary hosted by Bettany Hughes

Spartan Reflections by Paul Cartledge

The Spartans by Paul Cartledge

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!

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 20

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:

Spartan warriors were famed for dancing.

This might sound kind of odd because we don’t associate ballet with camouflage and semiautomatics, but in those days, fighting involved coordination that was often signaled by drums and pipes. Because dance is physical movement choreographed to sound, it became for the Spartans yet another means of military training.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 19

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 killed those who got in their way but spared those who surrendered.

People nowadays often think of Spartans as bloodthirsty brutes, but if they could win without spilling blood, they would. Their fearsome reputation served them well in this respect, and many adversaries would simply take advantage of their mercy policy and not risk battle.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 18

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:

The Spartan community encouraged all citizens to hunt.

In fact, they had an interesting policy in place to promote the activity. Hunting required horses and hunting dogs, animals privately owned by the rich. However, if poor citizens wanted to hunt, rich citizens had to make them available at any time.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 17

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:

When not on campaign, citizens occupied themselves with choral dances, festivals, feasts, hunting, physical exercise, and conversation.

To be honest, this doesn’t sound too much different than the pursuits of their Athenian contemporaries, but the Spartans had to endure and survive a lot more to achieve this lifestyle.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 16

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 considered arrows “feminine.”

This was because arrows were a long-range weapon that allowed you to kill without really seeing your enemy. The Spartans’ weapons of choice were a thrusting spear and a short iron sword, which required them to get up close and personal. Despite their disdain for arrows, they did use bows and arrows in their auxiliary forces.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 15

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:

All citizens participated in the Assembly.

In addition to Sparta’s two Kings and the Gerousia, a council of aristocrat elders, the government included the Assembly of Citizens. The Assembly, which met monthly, elected certain officials and voted on measures such as whether to go to war.

By the way, they voted by shouting. Basically, whichever side was loudest won.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 14

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:

Spartan males went about after nightfall without torches.

Men and boys alike would travel in the dark without light. This practice was to train them to move stealthily at night.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!

Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 13

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:

“Black soup” was a staple of their diet.

This dish consisted of boiled pig blood and vinegar. According to one story, a non-Spartan Greek visited their dining messes, and when they served this up to their Epicurean guest, he said, “No wonder you Spartans are so eager to die.”

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!