Spartan Education- AGOGE

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XENOPHON, Spartan Society 2-6

  • No shoes- strong feet
  • Wore 1 garment all year round
  • Just enough food to survive 'give them a taste' of starvation. To prepare for battle.
  • Engage in stealing/foraging to fight starvation. Punished if caught, for incompetency.
  • Collect cheeses from Orthia whilst being whipped: short term pain = long term prestige.
  • Any citizen could discipline/instruct the boys.
  • Never without someone in charge of them: "Smartest Eirens took command of each squadron."
  • Hearers/Inspirers. Platonic relationships between men and boys, based on respect.
  • Ages mixed together- youths benefit from elders' wisdom.
  • When they become youths: likely to be self-willed and cocky. Given the most amount of work at this time. To avoid shirking.
  • To implement respect in them: keep both hands in their cloaks in the streets, in silence.
  • Contests and competitions encouraged: compete in excellence- 'attain the height of manly gallantry. Encouraged to be the best.
  • Meritocracy: i.e. the Krypteia.
  • Stopped excessive drinking.
  • "If a boy is beaten by another, it is a disgrace if his father does not give him another beating."
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PLUTARCH, Life of Lycurgus 16-18

  •  At age of 7- distributed into Troops. The captaincy of the Troop went to the boy with the soundest judgement and best fighting spriit. He gave the others punishments/gave instructions.
  • Watched by their elders- spurring them on to fight and contend with each other.
  • Learned to read/write no more than was necessary.
  • Physical training intensified with age, barefoot, exercising naked, cropping their hair.
  • From 12- only 1 cloak a year and never wore a tunic.
  • Did not bathe/oil.
  • Slept in Troops on self-made mattresses.
  • From 12- "courted by lovers from among the respectable young men"
  • Older men visited the gymnasia as the boys trained etc. Create respect for any of their elders.
  • At any occasion: someone would be there to reprimand a mistake.
  • Meritocracy: Eirens (20 years) lead Troops
  • Encouraged to steal, punished if caught.
  • Story of boy with wolf- didn't want to be caught stealing it, prepared for it to eat him.
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  • System to produce skilled warriors, respected for skill and knowledge throughout Greece.
  • 7.206- "Sent Leonidas with his men first, so that their allies would see them and join in the war."
  • 7.211- "Lacedaemonians fought remarkably well, proving they were experts in battle."
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  • Education meant to breed next generation for the slaughter. The old have already sacrificed for their country- the young are expected to take over with enthusiasm.
  • "It is disgraceful when an older man falls in the front line while the young fall back."
  • "For the young man, still in glorious prime, [death] is beautiful."
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