The Spartan Army

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The Spartan Army to the Battle of Leuctra 371 BC | 2013 HSC Ancient History Assessment Task 1 | The composition, training, tactics, armour, strengths and weaknesses of the Spartan army and one significant Spartan battle | | Duncan Burgess Duncan Burgess The Spartan state was unique throughout the ancient world. Under the instruction of the mythical lawgiver, Lycurgus, who claimed to have brought the laws from a visit to the Delphic Oracle; the Spartan state became a powerful machine geared largely toward war. All boys born to parents of the citizen class were destined to undergo a tough training system from early childhood to become elite professional warriors. When exactly this dramatic overhaul took place and why is lost in history. Historians have suggested it as a response to growing concerns about the outnumbering helot population revolting. The Spartan society consisted basically of Spartiates or citizens, tradesmen and helots (slaves). The Spartiates left their land to be worked by helots and lived their lives as professional warriors. Reports of the Spartan way of life are often biased as very few written sources are left from the Spartans themselves. The long kept system unravelled after defeat at the battle of Leuctra in 371 BC. The Composition of the Army The Kings and Leadership Sparta was ruled by two kings, and originally both of them led the army to war. Problems arose and the policy was changed so that only one king went campaigning at a time, the other remaining in Sparta. The general-king held supreme command of the army and had the right to declare war and make all decisions in battle. However, he had to be wise with his power, as authoritative officials called ephors followed him to act as advisors and watch that he behaved responsibly and fairly. Furthermore, if the campaign failed, the king was punished. One hundred hand-picked
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