The period of high classics (V century BC). Sparta.
The emergence of the Spartan state.
In the history of Greece at the end of the V - beginning of the IV century BC, Sparta played a major role. The Spartan state was formed by the end of the II millennium BC, after the Dorians appeared in the Peloponnese in the XI century BC, settled in the southeastern part of the peninsula, Laconica (hence the second name of Sparta - Lacedaemon), in the valley of the river Evrot. The newcomers subdued and partly expelled the local inhabitants of the Achaeans. Sparta was not a city, but an association of five villages, about. The shortage of land led to an active Spartan expansion to the west, to Messenia, where tribes similar to the Achaean, who spoke the Dorian dialect, lived. The Spartans conquered them as a result of several Messenian wars (VIII-VII centuries BC). During the second Messenian War, the poet Tirtei became famous, composing battle marches and cries.
Most of the conquered population of Messenia and Laconica (helots)1 was deprived of personal freedom and civil rights. The helots worked on the land and paid a natural tax to the Spartans. A small number of local residents of Laconica, where the lands were less fertile than in Messenia, while preserving personal freedom, were deprived of civil rights, forming a social group of Perieks (literally: "living around"). The Perieks were engaged in handicraft and trade.
Before the VI century BC, Sparta developed in the same way as the rest of the Greek polis. But by the VI (or even VII) century BC, the final turn to the formation of a closed self-sufficient society was taking place, which was reflected in the legendary legislation of Lycurgus, which officially fixed the state system created in Sparta. However, the ancient tradition attributed it to an earlier time (IX-VII centuries).
The state structure of Sparta.
At the head of the Spartan society were two kings, Basileus. In wartime, they were military leaders (for example, the famous Leonid), in addition, they performed priestly functions and partially judicial. In fact, the kings were deprived of supreme power, as they were members of the Council of elders, the second important state body, otherwise called gerusia. It included thirty people: two kings and twenty-eight elders. Elders (geronts) became people after the age of 60, that is, already wise with experience. Gerusia in its own way performed the functions of the Athenian Council of the five hundred, being the working body of the Spartan state: The elders worked out a number of issues that were put up for discussion by the People's Assembly (apelles).Formally, the People's Assembly was the highest state institution: only full-fledged citizens (men over the age of 30) participated in it, but unlike the Athenian assembly, no Spartan could speak in the apelles on his own initiative. Citizens only rejected or approved the law put forward by Gerusia. Since ancient times, the custom of determining the majority of votes by shouting has been preserved. It was easy to influence such elections in the interests of the aristocratic minority.
The next state body that emerged somewhat later, the college of the five ephors, representing the five ob, initially had the functions of controlling the kings and gerusia. Over time, the ephors become the main power in Sparta. They were elected for a term of one year and were given the right to bring to justice and judge ordinary Spartans, Geronts and tsars. The Ephors monitored the observance of the Spartan lifestyle, led domestic and foreign policy.
Education and social life of the Spartans.The Spartan society was characterized by the utmost regulation of all aspects of life, achieved with the help of a special system of education, which became very famous.
If a child was born frail, he was thrown from the top of Taygetus, the highest mountain in Sparta, since only physically strong people were allowed to live.
Boys who reached the age of seven were united in special squads - agels and began to engage in physical exercises. Theft and fights were encouraged, in which dexterity and strength were shown. In addition, the children were taught writing, counting and the basics of musical art.
Probably, due to the limitations of intellectual education, the Spartans were laconic. Hence the word "laconism", meaning brevity in the expression of thoughts. The Spartans were able to express them succinctly and colorfully. Leonid, when he was informed that there were so many Persians that their arrows would outshine the sun, replied: "Well, we'll fight shadows." Another tsar , in response to the speech of one verbose ambassador , said: "You finished your speech with the same difficulty as I listened to it with patience."
Girls were brought up in the same way, so that they could have healthy children. Mothers despised sons who showed cowardice in battle. The famous saying "with a shield or on a shield" belonged to a Spartan woman who handed a shield to her son before the battle: the winners returned with a shield in their hands, and the dead were brought on the shield. That is why the Lacedaemonians never wore armor on their backs: it was considered the greatest shame for a Spartan to show his back to the enemy.
As boys grew older, they moved to other age groups until they reached the age of thirty - the edge from which adulthood began in Sparta (in Athens, a young man was considered an adult from the age of twenty). Physical education ended with a special "exam" - a solemn and cruel flogging on the altar of Artemis. The priestess, who was watching this procedure, held a statuette of the goddess in her hands, then tilting it, then lifting it, and the blows either intensified or weakened. The continuation of the exam consisted in carrying out such a barbaric event as the cryptics, when young people armed themselves and once a year killed the healthiest and strongest helots.
The regulation of the personal life of the Spartans was carried out through public meals (sissies), arranged by hand. Every full-fledged citizen participated in them, but those who could not make a contribution were excluded from this society. For the Lacedaemonians, the sissities were a kind of property qualification and a symbol of civil equality, since the same food consumption was established on them. The formalization and regulation of life could reach absurdities when the Spartans were required to have a uniform cut of clothing and a certain form of beard and mustache.
Such a conservative and closed structure of the Spartan society was due, first of all, to the need to unite in front of the Helots, who posed a significant danger. By 400 BC in Sparta, there were 40-60 thousand Perieks and 140-200 thousand Helots for 7-9 thousand full-fledged people, while in Athens there were about 60-100 thousand citizens, 15-25 thousand Meteks and 40-60 thousand slaves.1 It would have been impossible to keep such a large number of Messenes in obedience if the Spartan community had not been militarized. Conservatism was also artificially maintained when Sparta ceased to actively develop economically, since there was no money in it, instead of which fragile iron rods soaked in vinegar were introduced. It was impossible to conduct foreign policy and trade with them.The Spartan society is not an anachronism or an abnormal relic of early antiquity, but a clearly verified, consciously created design, the improvement of which undoubtedly led to the military strengthening of Sparta: up to the IV century BC, the image of the Spartan is the image of a courageous and invincible warrior. In Lacedaemon, much attention was paid to the education of patriotism, its citizens created their own system of moral values, were not limited warriors and were not averse to fine arts, considering Apollo, the god of harmony, music and singing, as their patron. On the other hand, the complete militarization of society resulted in a poor spiritual heritage. Spartan playwrights, poets and philosophers are practically unknown to history. Such a society was doomed to gradual extinction without further continuity by subsequent civilizations. The Roman and Christian worlds arose and were formed under the influence of the Greek tradition, which was represented by Athens and similar in spiritual and political structure Greek polis, but not Sparta.