Sparta was the glorious kingdom of Helen and Menelaus[1] . The Spartans are a well-known ancient Greek city-state famed for their heroic depiction in the contemporary movie 300. The Spartans were warriors. At the age of seven Spartan boys had to depart from their families and go off to live in a dormitory that trained them to be soldiers[2] . The Spartan boys were prided in being masculine. In fact, in the dormitories they were subjected to living in harsh conditions.The boys had the bare minimum of necessities.The overseer’s provided them with never enough food, blankets or clothes. In the dormitories they transitioned into manhood. Initiation into manhood was brutal. The unforgiving initiation young male Spartan had to go was during Krypteia. Krypteia was an annual festival for the Spartan soldiers to prove themselves valuable. It involved the murder and torment of helots. Young Spartan soldiers were unleashed to hunt out the helots. Helots found on the country side for no goof reason were killed[3] . The Spartan males became soldiers when they were twenty[4] .

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A Spartan soldier in his armor.
The Spartan girls were not sent off into dormitories; instead they were left in the home with their parents to learn the customs of being a Spartan woman. The girls exercised frequently and were taught chores of the household such as cooking, weaving and spinning. Spartan women got married at eighteen[5] . Unhealthy babies borne to Spartan’s were killed [6] . There was no room for the unhealthy in Spartan society. If there were a coward in Sparta he was shamed. Mother’s would say to their son’s "Come back with your shield, or on it." Dead Spartans were carried home on their shields. Only a coward would drop his shield and run away[7] .

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A Spartan woman giving a shield to her son
The Spartan’s were big on devotion to their community and culture. After marriage a Spartan man was to eat meals with his fellow soldiers while the wife was the overseer of the chores and their children[8] . Since Spartan children did not receive an education. Sparta had a very small literacy rate. Only small groups of elite were able to read or write. Education in Sparta was from learning from the elders in the community. Poems, stories, and songs were passed down verbally. Spartans had conscience and conservative takes on its traditions[9] .
Recognition from fellow Spartans was relied heavily upon. Spartan’s took pride in their appearance. Spartan men grew their hair long and combed it before battles[10] . Cosmetics were prohibited[11] . Therefore, they were naturally beautiful. Spartan’s spent a lot of time out of their homes in the nude. Being in the buff lead way to a lot of criticism. Girls in Sparta partook in lesbian encounters. Having many athletic activities naked the girl’s took to each other in a sexual way. Girl on girl relationships were a completely normal fixture in Sparta’s social life. Spartan’s believed it was a pleasurable tangent for both partner’s benefit[12] .

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A depiction of the athletic Spartan’s

Spartan’s had to maintain a very healthy lifestyle and they were expected to have athletic bodies. Girls especially were encouraged to study the beauty of their peers. They also had to compare their own beauty to that of others. Men even chose the brides in accordance to their appearance. The most beautiful men and women in Sparta were the most admired.

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A Laconia mirror that the Spartans used to check themselves out.

Out of all of Greece the Spartans had the best nutrition. They were well fed and drank plenty of wine. In fact, Sparta was the only ancient Greek society that did not prohibit women from drinking wine [13] .
Within Sparta there were enslaved groups of people known as the helot’s (the Messenia were the primary slave group in Sparta) [14] . The helots were exempt from the typical customs of the Spartan family. The helots ate their meals together. The life of the helots in Sparta was harsh because they were forced to complete the hardest tasks.

The helots did practically all of the farm work. They harvested crops and plowed the fields. It was common for hundreds of slaves to work together on a large farm, or, even several on a small farm. Other slaves even worked in small shops and made products for the Spartans i.e. leather, shoes, pottery etc. They worked in mines, prestigious households, fields, and nearly any trade of the time.

The Spartan masters were in total control of the helot’s life. The slave owners had to grant permission as to whether or not a slave could get married or start a family[15] . The master could sell his slave at any time. The helots of Sparta were a big part of the community.

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Slaves
The Spartans had the best land army in all of ancient Greece. The army was based in Sparta because if the soldiers went elsewhere the helots would start a revolt and try to gain their freedom[16] . Without the helots we would not have an efficiently functioning Sparta.

The Spartans were a disciplined, noble group of people. They were devoted to their functioning society. The men of Sparta were the best warriors in all of Ancient Greece whose competitiveness and talents regard them as super human. The women of Sparta had more freedoms than any other women in ancient Greece. The information of the great Spartan’s has persevered despite no recollection of art or literature left behind from this famous group of Greeks.

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Spartan Architecture

The city state of Sparta was very well known for its wealth and prosperity, as well as its buildings and temples. These structures were very large and complex, and the buildings constructed during this time period were thought to be ahead of their time. Two of the most well known buildings in ancient Sparta were the Menelaion and the Amyklaion. The Menelaion, constructed in 700 B.C, was built in honor of Menelaos and Helen. It was located near the remains of a Mycenaean palace, which was thought to be known as the palace of Menelaos, constructed in the fifteenth century B.C. The Amyklaion, built during Spartan's Golden Age in the sixth century B.C., was considered to be the most significant temple in all of Lacedaemon. Another notable architectural accomplishment in Sparta, was the Spartan Assembly Hall, constructed in the middle of the sixth century B.C. This great hall was built after Sparta won the war against the Persians in the fifth century B.C. [1]

Menelaion

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The Menelaion

The Amyklaion

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Clothing

The culture in ancient Sparta was very militaristic. As it was mentioned, he elders of the towns inspected newborn infants to see if they were strong, and the weak or unhealthy were brought to a pit where they were left to die. The children that were deemed strong enough were subjected to extreme discepline, and were groomed to become warriors beginning at an early age. At the age of seven, the boys were removed from their families and organized into groups, and the strongest of the children were elected captains. Being that the Greek city state of Sparta was so narrowly focused on preparing its citizens for war, there was not a great deal of emphasis put on the clothing that the people wore. The people of ancient Sparta simply wore togas due to the fact that their main concern was perfecting their military and being prepared for war, and not the arts such as literature, painting, and clothing [2].

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Traditional Spartan Clothing

Customs and Interesting Facts About Ancient Sparta

There are many fascinating and informative customs that were practiced in Ancient Sparta. Upon entering someone else's home in Ancient Greece, the guest had to remain standing until the host showed them the designated seat that they were supposed to sit in.

In addition, if the guest arrived up to thirty minutes later than the expected time of arrival, this was still considered punctual. The hostess signals the start of the meal by proposing a toast.The most common toast is "to your health", which is "stinygiasou" in informal situations or also known as "eis igían sas" at formal functions. The oldest person at the table was always the first to be served, and no one was allowed to begin eating until the hostess started to eat. Meal times were great opportunities to socialize with each other, and surprisingly enough, it was common to share the food on your plate with the other people at the table [3].

Afer the Spartans have drank in moderation at the conclusion of a meal, they must go out into the night on their way home without a torch. They are not even permitted to walk with a light no matter where it was they were going, so that they may become accustomed to traveling in darkness at night confidently and fearlessly [4]. Sparta was the first democracy in recorded history, and it is estimated that their democratic system of government predated that of the Athenians by as much as one hundred years. What's more, Sparta was the only Greek city-state to introduce land reform aimed at equalizing wealth among its citizens. Sparta was the only Greek city-state in which women enjoyed basic rights such as the right to education, inheritance, and property. Therefore, Spartan women were proud of their intellectual accomplishments, had economic power, and were not afraid to express their opinions. This sometimes caused them to be condemned by other Greeks as disrespectful [5].


Holidays and Celebrations

In early times, as much as ninety five percent of Greeks belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church. Before the year 1051, there was a union between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Many theological, political, and cultural differences eventually caused the churches to split from each other, and these problems were never solved. Contrary to popular belief, most Greeks did not go to church often, causing congregations to consist mainly of the elderly and young children. As well as the religious holidays that we have in common with them, Easter and Christmas, the Greeks also have a variety of different holidays that they celebrate throughout the year. Listed below are the names and dates of the various Greek holidays. Interestingly enough, there is no set date for the Easter holiday, and this is determined by the vernal equinox and the phase of the moon. Despite the many differences between our celebrations and the ancient Greeks', notice that we celebrate Christmas on the same day that they do [6].

The Major Feastdays


Nativity of the Theotokos September 8


Exaltation of the Holy Cross September 14


Presentation of the Theotokos in the Temple November 21


Christmas (Nativity of Jesus Christ) December 25


Epiphany (Baptism of Christ) January 6


Presentation of Christ in the Temple February 2


Annunciation (Evangelismos) March 25


Easter (Pascha) Date varies from year to year


Pentecost 50 days after Easter


Transfiguration of Christ August 6


Dormition of the Theotokos (Kimissis) August 15






http://library.thinkquest.org/17709/cities/sparta.htm

http://elysiumgates.com/~helena/Art.html

http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/greece-country-profile.html

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Moralia/Instituta_Laconica*.html

http://elysiumgates.com/~helena/

http://www.sfakia-crete.com/sfakia-crete/christmas.html
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    The Spartan Army (Osprey Military Elite Series, 66), by Nicholas Sekunda and Richard Hook (1998). Suitable for kids, intro.
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    (Hook pg4)
  3. ^ 5 Most Brutal Male Initiation Rituals From Around The World." tsbmag.com. n. page. Web. 6 Dec. 2011.
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    "BBC-Primary History: Ancient Greeks: Sparta." www.bbc.com. N.p., 2011. Web. 27 Nov 2011.
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    Pomeroy, Sarah. Spartan Women. 1st ed. USA: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (Pg. 3)
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    ("www.bbc.com")
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    (www.bbc.com)
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    (Hook pg. 6)
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    (Pomeroy Pg.8)
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    (Pomeroy Pg. 131)
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    www.bbc.com
  12. ^ (Pomeroy pg.132)
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    (Pomeroy pg. 133)
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    Sparta: Ancient Greece." www.historyforkids.org. Portland State University, 2011. Web. 27 Nov 2011.
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    (www.historyforkids.org 1st pg.)
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    ( www.historyforkids.org 2nd pg.)