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  • Writer's pictureCatrina Hull

5 Weird Facts About Ancient Sparta

Ancient Sparta is known for having a strong military. Their military might may have been the best in all of Ancient Greece, and revered around the ancient world...but their subculture was kind of weird.

Keep reading to learn more!

1. Spartans were afraid of their own slaves.

  • Here's how it worked... Spartans would take over land. If there were people on that land, they were often times made Spartan slaves (called "helots"). These slaves outnumbered the Spartan citizens as much as 8 to 1. The Spartan military strength was actually to make sure disgruntled slaves didn't rebel and overthrow Sparta.

2. Spartan citizens weren't allowed to have money.

  • Sounds crazy, right? All citizen life was geared towards the military. There was no other purpose as a citizen other than the military. Buying, selling, and trading were for the free non-citizen inhabitants of Sparta.

3. Sparta had a state education system...that only consisted of military training.

  • Literally. Called it "trained" or "obsessed". Either one. School was for children 7-18 years old. They had no shoes, not enough clothes, no enough food, and they had to sleep on mats they made. If children failed inspections/tests they brought disgrace on themselves and lost citizenship. No pressure.

4. Sparta men were elected into quasi-fraternities and had to live in barracks until they were 30.

  • These fraternities were called a "mess". Members of the mess would supply food for the group. Interestingly, men were allowed to marry at age 20, but still had to live at the barracks with all the other men until age 30.

5. Spartans purposefully created environments that required you to steal and lie.

  • In the state education system, children were intentionally not given enough supplies so that they would have to steal. They did this to toughen them up and build their "skills", but punished them if they were caught stealing.

  • In the army, men were expected to sneak home to be with their wife. They couldn't use a lantern or torch to light their way though because if they were caught they would be punished. They did this to teach their men how to be sly and navigate in the dark.




The British Museum

Lectures by HBU Assistant Professor, Collin Garbarino

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