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History of Sparta
Sparta was a Greek city-state located on the Eurotras River in southern Laconia on the Peloponnesian peninsula. Situated between two mountain ranges, Sparta was cut off geographically from the rest of the Greek city-states, even Messina which is also located on the peninsula. This geographical isolation acted as a natural barrier which affected the development of the Spartan State.
Eventually Sparta was transformed in to a military state. The lives of Spartans were rigidly organized and controlled by the state. At birth children were examined by officials to see if it would live or die. Those that were determined to be too weak were taken into the mountains and left to die from exposure. Males, upon reaching the age of seven, were sent to live in community barracks and be trained in both military and athletic abilities. The schools taught the endurance of extreme pain, wilderness survival skills, and discipline. After 13 years of training, a soldier began service in the standing army. He continued to serve until the age of sixty, all the while being supported by a plot of land given to him and farmed by helots. Although they were allowed to marry, they remained eating and living in the barracks until they were sixty. At thirty they were recognized as adults and were allowed to participate in the Assembly. Raised from birth to believe that total loyalty to the state was the sole reason for living, Sparta was able remain at the forefront of Greek culture.
Spartan society consisted of a three-tier class system. The helots made up the bottom tier of the class system, these were slaves that provided labor for the Spartan’s agriculture industry. They worked small areas of land owned by a Spartan who received a percentage of the helot’s harvest. Next came the perioeci, which translated means "dwellers around or about" who formed the middle tier. These were the foreigners that lived in Sparta and carried out most of the trade and commerce within both the state and the city. They were given much of the same privileges of the Spartiate. The Spartiate were the native Spartans who formed the top tier and the only inhabitants to receive full legal and political rights. Spartan law was also based on the three-tier system. A crime committed by a helot was much more serious than the same crime committed by a Spartiate.
The government in Sparta was controlled by a dual monarchy. Below this monarchy was the council consisting of 28 nobles, all of whom were retired from military service, plus the two monarchs. Below the council was the assembly of all Spartiates, forming a pseudo democracy.
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