Spartan Education

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  • Created by: MaaB
  • Created on: 31-05-16 17:26


  • New born babies were inspected by a committee of elders and if they were considered deformed or too weak, they were left to die of exposure on the slopes of Mt. Taygetus. Only the fittest were selected to live.
  • Babies were not allowed to be wrapped in protected clothing.
  • They were bathed in wine as it was thought this was help test for epilepsy and would help harden them against pain in the future.
  • They were often left on their own in the dark so that they would have no fear of it so if they cried they would be ignored.
  • They were taught not to sulk or be bad tempered and learned that they would only get punished with this behaviour.
  • They would be brought up by nurses, instead of their own mothers.
  • As they grew, children were not allowed to be fussy about their food and they would not have enough to eat.
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7 Year Olds

  • A Spartan boy would be sent off to the Agoge (city's boarding school which was a strict military boot camp).
  • The rich and poor would be educated together, to make sure there were no divisions in society as the aim of the Agoge was to produce the best soldier possible.
  • They would live in communal barracks and were divided into packs, each led by prefects which were 19-20 year olds who had recently graduated from the Agoge themselves.
  • The accommodation was basic in order to toughen the boys up. The prefects could have whips and could punish the boys for any offence and they were under constant supervision.
  •  The paidonomos (headmaster) had complete control over the boys and could punish them if needed. He would have been a Spartan warrior with a very good record.
  • The students only learnt basic literacy and spent the rest of their time focused on physical strength and obedience.
  • Music would be taught because, by learning to compete in choral competitions (singing and dancing), the boys would be taught the value of precise movement and teamwork - which would be vital in battle situations.
  • The focus was on the competitive spirit which everything in the upbringing was preparing them for.
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14 Year Olds

  • They were trained to go barefoot to run faster, scale heights and clamber down cliffs.
  • They were only allowed one cloak throughout the whole year, whatever the weather. They had to suffer through extreme weather and had food rations to get used to it. This meant the boys had to steal to get food but if they were caught they would be punished for 'carelessness'
  • They had to cut their hair short and play naked; they rarely had baths or used lotions as they were seen as luxuries.
  • Mock battles were staged, acts of courage praised, cowardliness/disobeying orders punished.
  • Some students may have become prefects, but they would still be under constant pressure to behave well. Xenophon says when walking the street, they kept their eyes down and didn't talk.
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18 Year Olds

  • Some enlisted into the Krypteia (secret police force). This was kept secret from most people.
  • Plutarch says the strongest graduates from the Agoge were selected to serve a period of time in hiding.
  • They were sent into the countryside of Laconia and Messenia where they were given minimal rations so they had to live off the land.
  • During the day, they would lay low, but at night, they patrolled the land.
  • They were encouraged to kill any Helots (slaves) they thought were a threat to Sparta, usually for their build or strength. This kept the other Helots fearful and under control and got them used to killing people.
  • After a period of time in the Krypteia, young Spartans were trained and efficient killers who knew how to terrorise the Helots.
  • Lycurgus (Spartan lawyer) thought youths of the age were likely to become rebellious and it was better to give them something to do to keep them busy.
  • The Spartan education system was devised by LYKOURGOS, a King of Sparta. He aimed to make each Spartan an excellent, unquestioning soldier.
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