The word “Spartan” has come to be known as describing self-denial and simplicity and for the lives of the people of Sparta, this was the case. Set apart from other family structures of ancient Greek city-states, the Spartans valued loyalty to the state above all else, along with strength and self-discipline. In turn, Spartan children were brought up to be soldiers and belonged to the state more so than to their parents.
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Starting with infancy, Spartan childhood took a unique approach. When a Spartan baby was born, soldiers came to the home to give the infant a thorough examination to assess its strength. To test this, a Spartan baby was bathed in wine, as opposed to water, to see how it would react. If the baby was determined to be weak and did not withstand the liquid well, they were often taken away and left on a hillside or doomed to be a slave. The Spartans were extremely selective with the infants and it was the city-state that declared the fate of the child, not the family. Tender loving care was not the practice of the day for infants. They were not coddled and babied, so from the beginning, they had a tough skin to survive.
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At age 7, Spartan boys were taken from their homes to live in a dormitory with other boys. There they began training as a soldier, enduring great physical discipline and deprivation to increase their stamina. These activities included marching without shoes, going without food, and withstanding physical pain. In fact, the older boys took part in beating the younger boys to build tolerance and strength. Motherly influence was not allowed and considered a hindrance to the boys’ learning, taking them away from the city-states statutes of self-denial and simplicity.
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After years of training, Spartan boys were required to pass a rigorous physical examination to fully become a soldier and gain aristocratic citizenship. For those that failed the test, they were forbidden to become citizens and became middle class. For the young men that passed the test, they had it made. They were given a piece of land by the state that was worked by slaves. This property provided them with income and they were required to marry to produce more Spartan boys to join the soldier ranks. Spartan men continually underwent military training to sharpen their skill until age 60 when they retired.
As soldiers on the battlefield, the Spartans wore a crimson colored tunic and cloak, a Corinthian style helmet, bronze cuirass, and leg greaves while carrying a body spear, sword, and hoplite shield. Needless to say, Spartan soldiers were well equipped and superior fighters. To get your hands on your own Spartan armor and weapons, see our selection at: http://www.armorvenue.com/