Sparta was, above all, a military state, and emphasis on military fitness began at birth, imprinted through society and the political system. The education of the Spartan male children prove that the military and war was constantly a huge part of Spartan society, and the laws and systems that Sparta was governed by, only enforced the militaristic attitude into the society of Sparta. That the Spartans needed to be ready for war is proved by the discord between the Spartiate and the helots, who outnumbered and under ranked the Spartans.
From birth Spartan children were expected to be physically strong and when male children were ten days old they were examined by a council of elders to see if the child had enough potential to be a warrior, or if it should be ‘exposed’. The children who were exposed were left to die at Apothetae on the slopes of Mt. Tygetus. The children who passed the examination were left in the care of their mothers until they reached the age of seven, at which point they left home to live in the barrack with other males, and were educated and trained in how to be a brave and strong warrior. While these children were still living at home they were mainly left in the care of a nurse, who taught them the first stage of their life-long education in the military. The nurses taught the children fight their fears as well as general superstition, toughening up the children so they would be able to better survive when they reach the age of seven and moved the barracks.
Plutarch explains in source A how boys at the age of seven were put into the care of the state, and how they would grow up constantly training physically. When in the education system the boys learnt reading a...
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...er’ in Sparta caused the Spartiates to be constantly prepared for a Helot uprise, as P. Cartledge explains in source F The helots were the Spartans slaves and were treated very poorly, being purposely set apart in image, given no rights, and beaten on several occasions. In fact each time new ephors were voted in, the helots would be rounded up and given an ‘annual beating’, so as the helots knew their place. However this treatment of the helots simply made the helots hate the Spartans, causing the Spartans to be even more prepared to an uprising, bringing the whole dilemma around in a circle.
Spartans lived and breathed so that they could be ready for war. Their social and political structure shows this by their education of male Spartans, their laws and government procedures and also the necessity to be ready to protect themselves from a potential helot uprise.
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