Sparta is one of the most prolific military city-states in all of Ancient Greece and the Ancient world. They were the main miltary power in Greece from around 605 B.C.E. to 362 B.C.E. The Spartan were taught to never back down or retreat in battle. Sparta had no art, literature or architecture and little emphasis on exploration and commerce. The main goal of every male Spartan citizen was to fight and die for Sparta. Every female citizens goal was to give birth to more males so they could become soldiers. The Spartans were able to focus on their life as a warrior because they had slaves that worked the land and made their battle gear. It is esimated that these slaves, or Helots, made up 80%of the Spartan population
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One of the main reasons the Spartans are such skilled warriors is the Agoge. Boys were taken from their families and began military and athletic training at age 7. The training programs were intended to develop physical strength, military prowess, communal bonds, discipline and obedience. The boys wore no clothes and food was deliberately rationed so they were forced to steal more. Those who were discovered stealing were severely punished, not for stealing itself, but for getting caught. Soldiers lived together in barracks until age 30, even if they were married.

The cryptiea is a Spartan tradition related to the Agoge. Young men would completed the Agogoe and stood out as a possible future leader were chosen. They were given the opportunity to test their skills and prove themselves worthy of the Spartan military tradition. During this time, they were called the cryptes. Every autumn, the Ephors (high priests), would declare actually declare war on the helots. This made it so any Spartan citizen could kill any Helot without fear of blood guilt. The cryptes were sent out into the countryside, unarmed, with the instructions to kill any helot they encountered at night and to take any food they needed. This could be used to remove any helots considered to be a problem and provide the young men with a manhood test and the experience of their first kill. This oppression of the helots permitted the Spartans to control the slave population and devote themselves to being soldiers. It may also have contributed to the Spartans' reputation for stealth.
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The Spartans believed that their power came from their group. Their main miltary tactic was the phalanx. The Phalanx is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears and very large shields. Each soldies protected the soldier to his left, thigh to neck. This formed a very strong battle formation that was effectivley a mobile fort. If there was even a single weak spot, the whole formation collapses.external image 300phalanx.jpgPhalanx formation

Military Life
At age twenty, the Spartan citizen began his membership in one of the syssitia. The Spartan exercised the full rights and duties of a citizen at the age of thirty. Only native Spartans were considered full citizens and were encouraged to undergo the training as prescribed by law, as well as participate in and give money to the syssitia. Spartan men remained in the active reserve until age sixty. Men were encouraged to marry at age twenty but could not live with their families until they left their active military service at age thirty. They called themselves "homoioi", or equals, pointing to their common lifestyle and the discipline of the phalanx, which demanded that no soldier be superior to his comrades. When the men went to war, their wives (or a women of other importance), would present them with their shield and say: "With this, or upon this". This meant that they should return victorius, or dead. If a Spartan soldier were to return alive and without his shield, it was assumed that he threw his shield at the enemy trying to get away, which was punishable by death or banishment. A soldier that lost his helmet, breastplate or leg armour was not similarly punished because these items were personal pieces of armour designed to protect one man. Their shields protected the individual soldier and it was the main component in the Spartan phalanx, which couldn't have any weaknesses.
File:Leonidas statue1b.jpg
File:Leonidas statue1b.jpg
Statue of King Leonidas