Significance of the Spartan Education System

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Explain the Significance of the Spartan Education System The Spartan education system, referred to as the agoge was the intellectual, social and military education of citizens. The training of Spartan boys was of great importance in Spartan society due to its well-structured militaristic values. It instilled the values of Sparta which formed the basis of their society. The system was implemented to promote subservience and obedience of individuals to the state. It was a fundamental aspect of the Spartan society ensuring that all citizens grew to be disciplined, obedient and formidable warriors. The agoge is attributed to the reforms of Lycurgus. It is thought that its main function was to control the vast helot population which resulted from the Messenian War. After subduing the inhabitants of Messenia, Sparta had to enforce a rigid militaristic ethos so as to maintain their dominance which they believed had to begin from infancy. Spartan education was a gradual institution initiated at birth until the age of 24. Shortly after birth, children were examined by the ephors to determine whether they were fit for Spartan life or if they were to be exposed at Apothetae. Brennan states that “Children that were healthy and hardy looking were allowed to survive”. Spartan males lived at home until the age of 6 and were raised by their mothers who took great care to toughen their mentality and courage. From the age of 7 onwards, boys were taken from their families to live in the military barracks with an agelai (herd) of boys their own age. They were supervised by a paidonomos and subjected to harsh training and punishment. Emphasis was placed on physical fitness but they were also taught the basics of reading and writing. Plato states that Spartans were educated “not by persuasion but by violence”. Boys were taught the hardships of pain, thirst, hunger, cold and fatigue.

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