Gods and Festivals in Sparta

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“Religious festivals were occasions of public display” a quote from ancient historian Xenophon, exemplifies the how gods and festivals play an important and crucial role in the lifestyle and the overall society of Sparta. Religion in Sparta was a way of bringing the community together and uniting the gods with the everyday social and political institutions of the Spartan state. Major festivals celebrated by the Spartans included those common to other Greek city states, along with festivals unique to the Spartans. These main festivals were Gymnopaedia, Karneia and Hyakinthia which were celebrated in honour various gods for various reasons. This will be explored through primary and secondary sources revealing the information behind the annual commemorations. Gods and festivals had an important place in the lives of all Spartan citizens, as it was expected that all member of society would play their part in the religious life of the community. Both gods and festivals are found to have a association with one another as festivals are majority of the time celebrated in the honour of various gods, as Sparta are heavily devoted to their religious and militaristic lifestyle. According to Thucydides “the gods were at the top of the chain of command that ran down through Spartan society. Their traditional rules, about festivals and sanctuaries, were there to be obeyed without question.” This exemplifies that the Greek gods were of high importance and held the power to determine and undermine the way Spartan society, military and religion was practised in everyday life. Their worship emphasized the attributes most relevant to the city's ideals. The Dioscuri, Castor and Polydeuces, were twin gods who play an important part in Spartan society and worship as they were known and associated as young men and their pursuits of horsemanship, athletics, warfare and protectors of guests

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