“For the Spartans, it wasn’t walls or magnificent public buildings that made a city; it was their own ideals. In essence, Sparta was a city of the head and the heart. And it existed in its purest form in the disciplined march of a hoplite phalanx on their way to war!” – Bettany Hughes, writer/historian.
Sometime around 1000 B.C., a handful of Dorian-Greek villages in the valley of the Eurotas in the southern region of the Peloponnese called Laconia (or Lacedaemon), joined to form a single city-state (“polis”), called Sparta. In time, Sparta became the leading Dorian city in Greece. For a variety of reasons, by the 7th century B.C., Sparta had developed into a unique political entity, one entirely devoted to the arts of war.
THE SPARTAN CONSTITUTION
Under the constitution established by the legendary Spartan lawgiver, Lycourgos, all Spartan males were trained to one purpose: to become the best soldiers in the world. While others worked their land, every Spartan male had but one profession, the practice of arms.
This constitution, the “Great Rhetra”, was more than a set of laws or penal codes. It encompassed all aspects of the Spartan life. The Great Rhetra not only established the various branches of the Spartan government, and the enumerated the powers of each; it told the Spartan how to conduct their lives…
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