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originally posted by: halfoldman
a reply to: BlueJacket
Yip, also in my clip.
I more wanted to know exactly which exercise and how many reps.
Known as a hoplon—from which is derived the name of its bearer, the hoplite—the shield was, together with the spear, the most important weapon of the Spartan warrior. Each shield was circular and convex, weighed more than 15 pounds, and measured three feet in diameter. Shields were specially made out of layers of wood that had been rounded off and glued together. The exterior was covered with a fine layer of bronze, whose surface, glinting in the sun and replicated across the formation, would present a daunting spectacle to an enemy. The Spartan hoplites organized themselves into a tight-packed phalanx that then relentlessly pushed forward behind this wall of bronze.
Ancient Sparta is one of the most well-known cities in Classical Greece. The Spartan society was known for its highly-skilled warriors, elitist administrators, and its reverence for stoicism, people today still look to the Spartans as model citizens in an idealist ancient society.
Yet, as is often the case, many of the perceptions we have of classical Sparta are based on over-glorified and exaggerated stories. But it was still an important part of the ancient world that is worth studying and understanding.
"At seven a Spartan boy was taken from his mother and raised in barracks, beneath the eyes of older boys," writes University of Virginia professor J.E. Lendon in his book "Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity" (Yale University Press, 2005). "Boys were whipped to inculcate respect (aidos) and obedience; they went ill clad to make them tough; and they were starved to make them resistant to hunger ..."
If they got too hungry, the boys were encouraged to try stealing (as a way of improving their stealth) but were punished if they got caught.
The Spartans trained rigorously and progressed through this training system until the age of 20 when they were allowed to join a communal mess and hence become a full citizen of the community. Each member of the mess was expected to provide a certain amount of foodstuffs and to keep training rigorously.
Girls, while not trained militarily, were expected to train physically. "Physical fitness was considered to be as important for females as it was for males, and girls took part in races and trials of strength," writes Sue Blundell in her book "Women in Ancient Greece" (Harvard University Press, 1995). This included running, wrestling, discus and javelin throwing. "They also learned how to manage horses; they drove carriages in processions and at the Hyacinthia, a festival of Apollo and Hyacinthus, they raced in two-horse chariots."
Spartan woman even competed in the Olympic games, at least in the chariot racing competition, according to ancient writers. In the fifth century B.C., a Spartan princess named Cynisca (also spelled Kyniska) became the first woman to win at the Olympic games.
Like all Greek societies Sparta was dominated by male citizens and the most powerful of those came from a select group of families. These were the landed aristocracy, and following reforms credited to Lycurgus in the 6th century BCE (or even earlier), citizens could not indulge in agricultural activities - this was the lot of the helots - but they had to devote themselves to athletic and military training and politics. Helots could not own property and so could not rise to become full-citizens, and this lack of social mobility would come back to haunt Sparta in later centuries. Reduced by constant wars in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, the Spartan hoplites (homoioi) became dangerously small in number (8,000 in 490 BCE to 700 in 371 BCE), so much so, that non-Spartiate soldiers had to be enlisted and their loyalty and interest in Sparta’s ambitions was questionable.
Women in Sparta had a better lot than in other Greek city-states. In Sparta they could own property which they often gained through dowries and inheritances. In fact, women became amongst the richest members of society, as their men were killed in the many wars, and eventually controlled 2/5th of Spartan land. In addition, Spartan women could also move around with reasonable freedom, they could enjoy athletics (done in the nude like men), and even drink wine. All of these freedoms would have been unacceptable in other Greek poleis.
In addition to foot races and wrestling, their sports included a particularly brutal contest in which two teams would try to drive each other off an island by pushing, kicking, biting and gouging their opponents, according to Kyle’s book.
To make life even tougher, Spartan boys were fed a meager diet. Xenophon, a philosopher and historian who lived from the late 400s to mid-300s B.C., noted that one purpose was to keep them slim, which Lycurgus, the founder of the Spartan system, believed would make them grow taller. But the boys’ hunger was also intended to embolden them to steal food from gardens and other places “in order to make the boys more resourceful in getting supplies, and better fighting men,” Xenophon wrote. But to make sure they learned cunning, boys who were caught stealing were whipped.
As soldiers, they lived in barracks with their fellow soldiers and they ate communal meals in mess halls called syssition. Since they were supposed to focus on military training and avoid distractions, they were not allowed to accumulate wealth or live luxuriously which included not wearing garments with expensive dyes or engaging in recreational activities. An example of this is given by Plutarch in describing a Spartan camp where they had no performers or dancing girls to entertain the troops. In their spare time, the soldiers would practice and hone their fighting skills. For the same reason, Spartan warriors were not allowed to marry until the age of thirty and had to live with their fellow soldiers. By the age of thirty, Spartan soldiers would be seasoned veterans. They were finally allowed to marry and assumed more responsibilities. They could not retire until the age of sixty.