SPARTA

       
The city-state of Sparta was a completely militaristic society.  Strength was the goal of every Spartan.  After birth children were examined, and sickly or deformed babies were tossed into a nearby chasm.  Around the age of six boys were taken away from their mothers and trained to be warriors.  In special schools older boy instructors taught them running, leaping, wrestling, spear and discus throwing, as well as the Pyrrhic war dance.  Reading and writing were two skills left up to private tutors.  A Spartan only needed to understand enough language for day-to-day living.   Their discipline was designed to strengthen and harden the body.  "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" was more than just a philosophy in Sparta. 
          The boys-in-training went barefooted and bareheaded wearing only  light clothing in all kinds of weather.  They slept in a large room with no roof and a hard floor with only straw for bedding.  Their food supply was extremely limited.  Their instructors wanted their hunger to force them into stealing from the agora, which would teach them stealth. Of course, if they were caught stealing, they were beaten.

          One of the most famous stories of Spartan discipline was about a boy who found a fox cub, which he planned to eat.  When he saw his instructor approaching, the boy hid the fox inside his garment to avoid being caught.  As the instructor questioned the boy, the fox began to claw and bite within the folds of the boy's tunic, yet the boy did not cry out.  According to the legend, it was only when the boy fell dead to the ground with his stomach bitten through that the instructor realized what had happened.
          Even if they abided by the rules, boys went through a yearly
flogging conducted at the altar of Artemis to test their ability to endure bodily pain.  Any boy who showed any sign of suffering during the flogging was considered a disgrace.
         As teenagers the boys were apprenticed to an older Spartan, who "showed them the ropes." The two were expected to form an intense bond, making them both willing to die for the other.  At the age of twenty, young men formally entered the military.  They were not released from the active reserve until the age of sixty. 
         Sparta remains one of the few ancient societies that produced no art.

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ABOVE:  The Agora of Sparta

BELOW:  Spartan Warriors Battling