Early Sparta – 10th Century BC

Early Sparta – 10th Century BC

Sparta

Sparta was one of the cities of the Peloponnesus which owed their origin or importance to the Dorian Invasion (sect. 145).  It was situated in the deep valley of the Eurotas, in Laconia, and took its name Sparta (sown land) from the circumstance that it was built upon tillable ground, whereas the heart and center of most Greek cities consisted of a lofty rock (the citadel, or acropolis).  But Sparta needed no citadel.  Her situation, surrounded as she was by almost impassable mountain barriers, and far removed from the sea, was her sufficient defense.  Indeed, the Spartans seem to have thought it unnecessary even to erect a wall round their city, which stood open on every side until late and degenerate times.  And events justified this feeling of security.  So difficult of access to an enemy is the valley, that during more than four hundred years of Spartan history the waters of the Eurotas never once reflected the camp fires of an invading army.

170. Classes in the Spartan State. The population of Laconia was divided into three classes Spartans, Perioeci, and Helots.  The Spartans proper were the descendants of the conquerors of the country, and were Dorian in race and language.  They formed but a small fraction of the entire population, at no period numbering more than ten thousand men capable of hearing arms.  The Perioeci (dwellers around), who constituted the second class, were probably the subjected pre-Dorian inhabitants of the land a mixed AEgean-Achaean population.  They are said to have outnumbered the Spartans three to one. They were allowed to retain possession of their lands, but were forced to pay tribute-rent, and in times of war to follow the lead of their Spartan masters.

Excerpt from Ancient History by Philip Van Ness Myers – 1916

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Further Reading and External Links

Sparta on Wikipedia

A Study of Ancient Sparta