Explain the Organisation of Spartan Society

1077 Words5 Pages
In 640 BC the Messenians revolted against the Spartans, resulting in a second Messenian War. When the war was over Sparta reformed their social structure in order to be able to control the population of Helots that greatly outnumbered their own. Spartan society was therefore organised into four different elements: the Spartiates, the Inferiors, the Perioikoi and the Helots. The Spartiates were privileged social class of Sparta and held all political power. In order to gain Spartan Citizenship, the Spartan men had to prove their descent from the original Dorian Conquerors, they had to submit to the education and discipline that was imposed upon them and had to gain membership to one syssita and contribute to their syssita. The Spartiates were forbidden to have a trade or to engage in farming and industry and so such jobs were performed by the Helots and the Perioikoi. Only a few, as state by Plutarch in Source 9, practised manual craft. Instead of working the State supported the Spartiates by providing them a portion of land known as the kleros as well as number of helots who were to farm this land. The kleros supported the Spartiates and their families and also provided the food that was then contributed by the Spartiates to their syssition. All Spartiates were required to become full-time soldiers who then owed their total obedience to the State. They had to conform to strict social behaviour, had to be brave in battle, obey the laws of their superiors and the State and all sacrificed their individuality to the state. The Spartiates therefore lived by a code of honour involving courage, loyalty, endurance and obedience. Those who disobeyed the laws of the State and their superiors lost their citizenship and were considered as part of the Inferiors. These Spartiates were required to wear special clothes, remained unshaven; they exercised alone and were avoided by
Open Document