• Created by: Alice
  • Created on: 01-08-13 11:39


- according to Xenophon and Plutarch they were part of the lycurcan innovations

Xenophon: gerousia caused old age to be held in great honour that the full vigor of manhood had

Plutarch: Greatest change was the addition of the senate to regulate the kings, to resist democracy and at the same time help the people from absolute monarchy

all had to be over 60

Plutarch explaining election

- Assembly voted by cheering, people in sealed rooms would tally what they thought was the loudest shout

- ******: they held a position of great influence and dignity but their actual role in politics is hard to assess

- Aristotle: gerousia could by unanimous decision refer to a matter to the assembly and could vote the decision if it wasn't too their liking

- they acted as judges in important criminal cases - probouletic body that formulated bills and presented them to the assembly in the form of a proposal

1 of 18

historical debate

Pomeroy: Possessed crucial right of legislative initiative: had to discuss all bills before brought to assembly. Andrews argues that people were debating proposals (hence why they were changing them). Forrest disagrees and says that after the gerousia brought it to the assembly that they would go back and make another decision. De Ste Croix agrees with Aristotle saying that no ordinary was allowed to speak unless asked by the Ephor 

******: says the council had similar status to the kings and could affect condition of state affairs

2 of 18


- 5 magistrates elected annually in the assembly

- All spartans over 30 were elligible - could be held only once in a lifetime and each month had to exchange oath with the kings 

- on entering office they proclaimed all citizens to shave their moustaches and obey the laws

- Not mentioned in the Rhetra

- Resided in Ephoreion and met daily and ate together

- Chief admin body with many functions: Judical, probouletic amd executive (******) Supervised the kings and represented principle of law

3 of 18

Judicial function

- criminal and civil cases

- abrittrated in civil disputes

- could banish foreigners 

- condemn people to death without trial

4 of 18

Military function

- mobalised the army, gave instructions to generals

- controlled the agoge and dealt with misconduct 

- controlled krypteia

5 of 18


- controlled lesser magistrates and the magistrates had to report to them

- convened and presided over the assembly and the gerousia 

- put motions before assembly

6 of 18


- declared war on helots every year

- watched the skies each 9th year to read the omens in the kings reign 

- met regurarly to discuss each matter and to present it in an agreed motion to the assembly

7 of 18


- Recieved foreign embassies

- gave permission for people to enter sparta

- banish foreigners

8 of 18


- controlled money

- recieved all captured booty and imposed taxes

9 of 18


  • - Citizens over the age of 30
  • - met monthly
  • - important decisions affecting public policy, elected magistrates, appointed generals and ministers and where necessary conferred and rescinded citzenship and passes always

Rider: limited to constant vocal nature of the apella and diminished powe - obviously introduced later because they found this a problem

****** questions the issue of debate in the assembly: 

After discounting the bias of Thucydides and Aristotle:

  • - elected ephors, elders of gerousia and other magistrates
  • - passed measures e.g. Appointments of military commandments, decisions about peace and war, resolutions of problems regarding kingship, emancipation of the helots
  • - voted by acclamation - ****** also thought they could debate issues
10 of 18

Spartan education and the agoge

- successful completion of the public system of upbringing, was a pre-requisite for citzenship

- stress of love for intellect and knowledge as much as physical exercise 

- education provided for girls too

- characterised by an unusual degree of self government, freedom and responsibility 

- self-discipline, not mindless obediance, was the goal

- literacy was higher than any other greek states (probs cause girls were taught too)

- spoke laconically

Method of education was very different to what the rest of the Greeks were doing. They learnt basic literacy and poetry for prepartion for war, also instruments were learnt. This education was used to advance the Spartan society; to not challenge, question or promote new ideas.

Cartledge: "Spartan education was tough, by most ancient Greek standards"

11 of 18

Academic education for males

- Plutarch: "learned only enough to serve their needs"

Poetry taught to instil a sense of patriotism 

- the chanting of poetry and singing of choruses required a lot of practice and they were taught the martial poetry of tyrantaeus word for word

- boys learnt dance routines for the footwork useful for fighting

- spartan child was expected to know the traditional answers to all questions - learnt basic literacy skills 

12 of 18

education of girls

- Pomeroy: shows that spartan women recieved superior education to other greek women and also recieved a better diet. they had high level of control over their fertility and played a significant role in maintaining the values of spartan life

- plutarch: education aimed at producing healthy bodies

- participated in most sports; Javeline, discus, running, wrestling, rump jumps, ball games

- there are bronze statues of spartan females found - archeoligical

- exercised naked or sometimes with tunics with splits up the sides (thigh flashers)

- Plato: girls did not have a trivial life occupied  by wool works and there is evidence that spartan women were literate

13 of 18


- Accepted feature of eduction

- homosexual relationship between a man and an underage boy and indoctorines to young boy into the Spartan way of life

14 of 18

Characteristics of Spartan education

Because we only have outsiders view on spartan education we only have what struck them as new or different rather than reporting systematically

- adult males bore equa responsibility for rearing good children

- all citizens were involved in the eduction of the next generation in some aspect

- citizenship was awarded at 21 if made into sysstia 

- pride and personal accomplishment was felt by mothers towards their sons and so words father

- public education - to raise good future citizens

stealing was not encouraged all the time, only at certain times

15 of 18

The agoge

  • Military education
  • Inculate the virtues of the society and the importance of conformity at a young age
  • boys had to live and learn together
  • agoge: meaning bringing up
  • total process laster for 13 years 
  • was not a school but a way of life 
  • children were organised into units (agelai) and supervised by a paidonomous who was assisted by a 20yr old male known as a proteira. These youths were expected to treat the younger boys harshy. Each of the 6 units was then broken up into smaller groups of six bouai
  • Plutarch: "it broke in boys like horses were broken in while coks"
  • harsh physical training and not enough food
  • many activities were organised contests which would develop character and promote physical fitness
  • they did not like the idea of individuals competing
  • triaining of boys got incrementally more difficult
  • in their 19th year - eirens, combatants and front line troops (24-30)
  • had to be accepted by the sysstion. Attendance was compulsory
16 of 18

purpose of the agoge

to instil a sense of courage, endurance and depreviation in male children

obediance, endurance, confirmity, group loyality, athletic skill/physical fitness and fighting skills

Barrow: "the spartans thought of an educated man as one who was devoted to the city and his fellow citizens, reliable in peace and war, courageous, obediant and well behaved according to their standards"

they had to survive agoge until they were 20

no set hours of building 

Brennon: "Spartan education was all emcombassing" 

17 of 18

Discipline of the Agoge

Plutarch and Xenophon: boys were made to go barefoot and issued with one garment

exercise naked

did all the housekeeping

made beds out of reeds

served small amounts of food (Xenophon: in order to make the boys craftier and more inventive for supplies)

modest in public, gaze down, keep hands under cloaks

clothing and hairstyles signified age group (e.g 7- 12 wore a chiton and short hair)

no baths of luxuries

developed ability to spy track and scout

18 of 18


No comments have yet been made

Similar Ancient History resources:

See all Ancient History resources »See all Sparta resources »