Article

Sparta

Lukas Thommen

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online May 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0153
Sparta

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Art and Architecture
  • Classical History
  • Classical Literature
  • Classical Philosophy

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Alongside Athens, Sparta is considered as the second mighty polis in the Greek world and has always attracted admiration as well as criticism, so that its image has undergone many transformations. Sparta was time and again represented as the counterpart of Athens and assigned the role of a backward oligarchy and legally, rigidly regulated military state. In Antiquity (as we read in Xenophon and Plato) the political stability and military efficiency of Sparta were declared an ideal and traced back to the system of public education (agoge). In the course of the 4th century bce, Aristotle finally proclaimed Sparta a pattern for a “mixed constitution,” which contains monarchic as well as aristocratic and democratic elements (kings, gerontes, and ephors or the leaders of the popular assembly). Following this outline, it later became also a model for the Romans (Polybius, Book 6). On the other hand, the “equality” of the Spartans, who termed themselves homoioi (“equals”), has always been fascinating. Connected with this equality was the communal life of Spartan men in the form of a permanent military-style camp. The idea of severe regulation of all facets of life and its orientation toward the state resulted in the early 20th century in the denotation of the Spartan community as a “kosmos,” so that Sparta also became a modern myth. Yet the Spartan “mirage” has been continuously deconstructed since the publication of Ollier 1933–1943 of (see Spartan Tradition and Research History Post-1900). Recently, there has been ongoing debate between researchers who think Sparta was more like other Greek states than sources note, and those who think it was unique.

Article.  16747 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.