spartan education

Spartan Early Life

The early years

The process started at birth. As soon as the baby was born it was taken to a commity of elders for inspection. if the baby was believed to be deformed or too weak, the baby was left to die beside a sleep slope on Mt Taygetus. This spot was called the apothetae which meant the place of rejection. if the baby survived this inspection, a tough infancy awaited. Its strenght was tested by bathing in wine instead of water. the were often left in the dark where their crying was ignored, they were not allowed to be fussy about their food  and they were taught not to be prone to fits of temper or crying. 

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Aged 7-12

Aged 7-12

At the age of 7, a spartan boy came directly under the control of he cityand remained so until the time of his death. Boys now left home to live in barracks. This ancient boarding school called the agoge, which meant ``rearing´´. The agoge was run by the paidonomos, the first headmaster in recorded history, no doubt a warrior of fearsome repute. Boys received little by way of conventional education. Literature was not taught in Sparta, nor was philosophy. These disciplines would have encouraged young men to thinkfor themselves and form their own opinions; this was thought very dangerous in a state which aimed to indoctrinate its young with a single world view.

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Aged 12-18

Aged 12-18

When the boys reached the second stage of the agoge at the age of twelve, their training became much more intensive. From this age they were made to go barefoot all the time. Each boy had one cloak to last the whole year whatever the weather. They were allowed baths and lotions only on a few special days each year. Spartan youths were also required to build own beds from the reedd of the river Eurotas. Food was deliberately rationed to enable them to survive without it on campaign if necessary. Boys were forced to steal food: if they were caught, hey were whipped severly- not for the wrong of stealing, but forthe military crime of being caught. 

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Aged 12-18

Aged 12-18

When the boys reached the second stage of the agoge at the age of twelve, their training became much more intensive. From this age they were made to go barefoot all the time. Each boy had one cloak to last the whole year whatever the weather. They were allowed baths and lotions only on a few special days each year. Spartan youths were also required to build own beds from the reedd of the river Eurotas. Food was deliberately rationed to enable them to survive without it on campaign if necessary. Boys were forced to steal food: if they were caught, hey were whipped severly- not for the wrong of stealing, but forthe military crime of being caught. 

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Aged 18-19

Aged 18-19

According to plutarch, Lycurgus was particularly wary of youths in late adolescence, an age were they thought they were more likely to become rebelious or insolent. to prevent this,he drecreed that they should be worked harder and kept as busy as possible. Respect for elders was emphasised and, when walking in the streets, youths had to keep their hands in their cloaks, stay silent and keep their eyes fixed on the ground ahead of them.

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The krypteia

The krypteia

Anoher element of the later stages of the education system was the krypteia, which meant ´´period of hiding``. Its exact nature is not clear, but it seems to have been a form of secret police. the strongest pupils in the agoge were selected to serve for a peroid of time in the krypteia. The krypteia toughned up the young men further and accustomed them to killing fellow human beings - a vital ingredient of a succesful soldier. It had the furthr advantage of keeping the helot populationin a state of terror. 

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