Role of Spartan Kings

432 Words2 Pages
The roles of Spartan Kings are diverse, ranging into different areas of Spartan life. Their main roles involve judicial/political areas, military, and religious roles. Spartan Kings have many religious roles, some of which saw them actively involved in Spartan religious life. Herodotus asserts they were also expected to sacrifice a fully-grown animal to the god Apollo each month. Sacrifices were not uncommon regarding religious practices; Spartan Kings were made to sacrifice to the gods before a battle, carrying with the flame used in the sacrifice, into the battle. Xenephon makes clear that the fact they were able to have a primary role in the sacrificing of the animal was as much a privilege as a responsibility. However, it was important to sacrifice it in the correct manner, as Xenephon notes that the King was acting on behalf of the city. Additionally, the King only held office for as long as they maintained pleasure of the Gods. Furthermore, as far as religious roles go, Herodotus mentions that Kings were not only responsible for the safekeeping of the oracles, but it was their responsibility to appoint the two pythoi whose job was to consult the oracle at Delphi. In the time of war, Spartan Kings held important military responsibilities. Only one King would ever be sent into battle. In the time of war, the King was the supreme commander of the Army. In the field, they would have unlimited power of life and death over the troops in his army. Herodotus wrote that the decision to send only one King into battle dates from 507BC following a conflict between Kings Cleomenes and Demaratus. Moreover, the King was responsible for the conduct of a military campaign. Failure or misconduct could lead to recall and punishment. The King was accompanied in battle by two ephors who “kept an eye on his activities”. Also, the King who went into battle was to have a
Open Document