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Sparta is a town in Lakonia, Greece that was once a prominent polis during the classical period. At its peak, it was a warrior society where all males were trained from childhood to serve throughout their lives in a purely militaristic capacity. This specialization produced some of the greatest warriors of their time, and the martial might of Sparta's soldiers held a legendary prestige across Greece.



In most traditions, Sparta was formed by the surrounding villages of Pitana, Mesoa, Limnai and Kynosoura, which were settlements established by Dorian Greeks who migrated to Lakonia during the Greek Dark Ages.[2]

Classical period[]

In 480 BCE, Sparta was led by King Leonidas who fell at the Battle of Thermopylae during the Second Persian invasion of Greece. The Greeks were nonetheless victorious in the war, and in the aftermath, Athens emerged as the hegemonic power as leader of the Delian League.

In 448 BCE, the baby Alexios was sentenced to death after the acting Pythia Praxithea of the Sanctuary of Delphi foretold that Leonidas' younger grandchild would bring ruin to Sparta, as per the order of the Cult of Kosmos.[3][4] Kassandra attempted to save her brother and inadvertently pushed both the priest and Alexios off the cliff to their apparent deaths and was sentenced to death for murder. Nikolaos ended up causing her to fall from the top of Mount Taygetos.[5] However, both children survived and became fierce warriors.[6][7]

ACOD Two Kings of Sparta

Archidamos and Pausanias, the two kings of Sparta

During this period, Sparta and Athens became archenemies, and to counter the Delian League, the former established an alliance of its own known as the Peloponnesian League. Open conflict erupted in 431 BCE with the Peloponnesian War. During this period of time, Sparta was jointly ruled by Archidamos of the Eurypontid dynasty and Pausanias of the Agiad dynasty.[8]

Around 428 BCE, Kassandra - now an adult and accomplished misthios - returned to Sparta after having found her mother. Kassandra's new ally Brasidas informed them that the city claimed it after Nikolaos' disappearance. As Kassandra wanted to see the Kings Brasidas advised her to deal with the Helots revolt in Sparta to be sure that the rulers will listen her.[9] After that, Kassandra and her mother met the Kings Archidamos and Pausanias. As Archidamos was furious against Myrrine and Kassandra after what happened on Mount Taygetos, Pausanias proposed that the misthios proved her loyalty. Archidamos tasked her to conquer Boeotia while Pausanias demanded her to escort the champion Testikles to Elis and assured the victory of Sparta during the Olympic Games. After the meeting, Brasidas informed Kassandra that he had a lead on a Cultist in Arkadia. Myrrine chose to follow Brasidas while Kassandra accomplished the Kings' tasks.[10] During her time in Sparta, Kassandra met the General Lysander who tasked her to find Polemarch seals from Athens.[11]

After 427 BCE, having completed what she set out to do and also gathered evidence against Pausanias, Kassandra returned to Sparta, where she confronted the Sage before Archidamos, the ephors, the Gerousia, and the Hippeis, which charged Pausanias for his crimes. As Kassandra made a great service for Sparta in addition to accomplish the Kings' quests, Archidamos granted Kassandra and Myrrine their house back. Before Pausanias could flee Lakonia he was slain by the misthios. When Kassandra and her mother entered in her house, Brasidas came to ask help from the misthios to prepare an attack against the Athenians in Pylos as they were rumors that Deimos was as their sides. She accepted and made for Messenia.[12]

ACOd Where It All Began

Kassandra, Myrrine, and Alexios' last meeting

In 422 BCE, after returning to Sparta, Kassandra told to her mother what Battle of Amphipolis happened in Amphipolis and the undetermined fate of Alexios. Going to Mount Taygetos to turn the page, they saw Alexios near the cliff. They tried to resonate him to leave the Cult and join his family, but he lost the will of living. In a desperate move, he threatened his mother with a blade, forcing Kassandra to kill him.[13][14] After the tragedy of losing her brother, Kassandra tried to reform her family. She organized a dinner in her old house with her mother, Nikolaos and Stentor. [15]

Structure of Classical Spartan society[]


The Spartan education process known as the agoge was essential for full citizenship. However, usually the only boys eligible for the agoge were Spartiates, those who could trace their ancestry to the original inhabitants of the city. Spartans who failed their agoge training were denied citizenship.[16]


Further information: Perioikoi and Helot

The other classes were the perioikoi, free inhabitants who were non-citizens, and the helots,[17] state-owned serfs. Descendants of non-Spartan citizens were forbidden from the agoge.

Life in Classical Sparta[]


Main article: Agoge

When Spartan boys were of age, they would enter the agoge system. The agoge was the military training and education program made to train the young boys. The boys would continue training from the ages of seven to thirty. As soon as they turned seven they were removed from their families and placed into the service of the state. They learnt a variety of things ranging from reading, writing, and even music, although it was mostly focused on combat training.[16] King Leonidas' death was held in high esteem for all Spartans and his bravery was then instilled in all future generations.[18]

The boys were divided up into agelai (herds), and supervised by older adolescents. Young girls of the same age participated in a similar system that was less harmful. They were trained in music and dance, but also running and wrestling. They also avoided wearing jewelry or perfume.[19] The growing of hair and facial hair was tied to progress in the agoge. At the age of twenty, Spartan men could grow their hair out, and at thirty, were permitted to grow beards and mustaches.[20]

Military life[]

Further information: Spartan army and Krypteia
ACOD - Spartan hopelite render

A Spartan hoplite

Spartans between the ages of twelve and twenty could fight in the Spartan army as hoplites.[21] At the age of twenty, Spartan men began their membership in one of the syssitia (dining messes or clubs), the meals were compulsory for all Spartans of age.[22] Until the age of thirty Spartan men lived in communal living areas called syskenia. They remained in military service until they reached the age of sixty and were designated as gerontes (elders). However many were known to continue serving anyway.[20]


Once a Spartan man had turned twenty-two they were permitted to start a family, but thirty was viewed as the more appropriate age to be married.[20]