Sparta: social organization and education –

Sparta became one of the most important cities in ancient times, in fact, for a long time it was considered the most powerful polis in all of Hellas (the name that the Greeks gave to what we know today as Greece). Do you want to know more about Sparta: social organization and education at the time? Keep reading. Well, although in the popular imagination Sparta seems to have gone down in history only for its military aspect, it is also interesting to know a little more about the functioning of this polis.

As an anecdote, did you know that Sparta did not have fortifications or walls? Its inhabitants did not consider them necessary, since the “true” wall was the union and value of each citizen. Beyond any romantic idea that the Spartan citizens had, there is also pragmatism in such a decision: the polis did not have walls because the Erotas valley has high peaks that served as natural protection.

Social organization

In order to correctly understand the origin of the Spartan “classes” or social strata, it is necessary to momentarily go back to the arrival of the Dorians in the region of Laconia -which you will often see also translated as Lacedaemonia- and they subjugated the local population: the Achaeans.

Once the Dorians settled in this region, you should know that they did not all settle in the same place, that is, they subdivided and founded different polis, including the polis of Sparta, which little by little gained strength and power in the area. and consequently it was taking over the other neighboring polis in that desire for territorial expansion.

These two processes are the key to understanding the spartan social organizationwhich was based on the winners versus losers dichotomy. The winners were those who reserved the highest position within the social pyramid and depending on which polis or defeated people they belonged to, they could be higher or lower (eg the Dorians were above the Achaeans, even if they were not Spartans).

Spartans or equals

The Spartans or Spartans (as they called each other) or the same were those direct descendants of the Dorians belonging to the polis of Sparta, following the previous reasoning: the winners. for his condition all rights reserved (they could choose and be chosen in terms of politics) and formed an exclusive group that did not exceed 9,000 individuals. They were also not required to perform work.

Periecos or Laconians

The periecos, laconios or inhabitants of the neighborhoods are those descendants of the non-Spartan Dorianswere free and could have land, however, they were forced to fight for Sparta (do military service).


Are the descendants of the achaeans -that is, the vanquished- and although many times in historiography they are called slaves, you should know that they do not fully fit the classic definition of slave (little more than an object) since although they were the ones who they worked the land for the spartans and they had an owner, who could not mistreat him or give him his freedom or sell him or fire him: the reality is that they were a kind of serfs who belonged to the polis to work the land.

Education in Sparta

The spartan education it was extremely pragmatic: it was taught to express oneself with the fewest number of words possible (hence we call this form ‘laconic’) and notions of reading and writing were taught.

Young people were given a military training from the age of 20 (other researchers say 17) and they remained in service until they were 60. They were educated in groups of 15 in tents. There they even cooked and the only leisure activity allowed was hunting, the Spartan was more a man of the polis than of the family.

To womeninstead, they were educated according to maternity: They had to be strong and in good health so they practiced sports. From Athens they mocked the ‘little femininity’ of the Spartans.

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