social structure: political organisation

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Alice
  • Created on: 31-07-13 09:34

spartiates, perioeci, inferiors and helots

- royality aristocracy at the top of the pyramid bound by sutom and obligation

- no one was equal - apart from the homoioi - although they were still not equal

- bottom - slaves and helots

- non-citizen groups e.g. periokoi and inferiors

1 of 11

when the greeks first lived in settled conditions

- the tribe: large group of families claiming to be descendents from common ancestors

- the clan: smaller group of family part of a tribe

- the oikos: single family unit

- the phraty/brotherhood: smaller group within the clan

2 of 11

Sparta's original three main tribes

- hylleis: eastern component of the dorians

- dymanes: western component

- Pamphyloi: general ruck of less important tribes

3 of 11


- male spartan citizens

- Homoioi - equal (claimed equality between themselves)

to become a spartiate you had to:

  • ownership of kleros
  • birth: prove that he was descended from Hercules and a full spartan peer
  • submission to the agoe
  • had to have accepted membership in sysstia
  • forbidden to take part in farming, trade or industry
  • not many foreigners were accepted as citizens except for:
  • 1. tisamenos of Elis: help was needed
  • 2. tyrataues - poet, so a stranger shall never appear our leader
  • 3. Dion of Syracuse

loss of citizenship resulted in a spartiate becoming an inferior

4 of 11


- the outer dwellers of the lakonian plains

- provided education, acted as a buffer to the outside world, traded for sparta, would occasionally provide military service, created military weapons

- didn't have the same rights as spartans

- lived in their own self governed communities

- subject to tax

- ephors supervised them - could be put to death without trial

5 of 11

histography of periokoi

Cartledge: "they occupied the less fertile fill land and costal areas of laconia and Messenia and so dwelt around the helots, against whom they served the Spartans as an early warning system and first line of defence"

- believed they were 80 towns

- suggests that the Periokoi were obliged to submit without questioning to military need, he also suggests that up until 465BC the spartan and periokoi served seperately 

Ephorus: believed that they emerged after the conquest of Laconia and the two kings granted equal rights to all but later they were deemed inferior

Shipley: Periokoi extremely important

Herodotus and Pliny: mention the periokoi made shoes and purple garments and objects of wood and ivory

6 of 11


  • - state owned serfs
  • - came from laconia and messenia
  • - pre dorian inhabitants of the area
  • - used helots for to focus on military training. it was below the spartiates to work the land
  • - they lived on the land of the homoioi families - very strict rules
  •  - considered enemies of the state and were treated brutally 
  • - they were required to wear humiliating clothing and were given an annual beating to remind them that they were slaves
  • - they could not move from the land without government permission
  • - the main obligation was to supply a fixed amount of produce annually to their homoioi masters generally set at 50% of the total crop. the leftover was for them and they were free to make profit without any additional surplus
  • - they outnumbered the spartans 20:1 - considered a constant threat to security - time to time killed by the kyrpteia to keep numbers under control
  • - despite the potential to revolt the helots often just acted as servants during war and serving light armour skirmishers in order of battle
  • - if a helot had done a super good deed they were freed for bravery and became an inferior but they still had no civil rights whatsoever
7 of 11

histography of helots

Cartledge: Believes that the helots were the very foundation of the mess system and the entire political, military, social and economic edifice

Plato and aristotle: Helots were miserably treated

Ducat: argues that the murder of the helots was a magical rite, a representation intended to reaffirm the norm that helots were not and could not become spartans

whitby: Suggests that the helots were an asset and not a disadvantage to the spartan state

Xenophone: thought the helots would eat the spartans raw, suggests hatred of each other went both ways

8 of 11


Part of the social elite but lack legal rights made up of four groups in themselves

effectively the leftovers, neither slaves nor citizens

9 of 11

Different types of inferiors

Parthenai: Illegimate offspring of helot mothers and spartan father

neodamodis: helots who had been given freedom - formed a big part of the army, usually died in some mysterious war (homoioi killing them off?P

Mothokes: sons of helots, who had been adopted for playmates of the sons of homoioi and came to share their training

tresantes:spartans who had lost citizenship, on account of cowardice

Hypermiones: Spartans who lacked full political rights, those who were blackballed

10 of 11

Relationships between classes

- each dependent upon eachother for something

- homoioi - for food, supplies, manpower, trade

- perioci - depended on homoioi for position of gentrification and relative prospeirity, and for the same upon helots 

- helots - for protection

- "sum was greater than the parts"

11 of 11


No comments have yet been made

Similar Ancient History resources:

See all Ancient History resources »See all sparta resources »