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In 5th century B. C. , there was a clear ruler of Greece, because of their military force and their dedication to the army the Spartan nation was the number one force in ancient Greece at the time. The powerful military force was not gained by mere luck, but by the government policies they had there at the time. This power went untouched for many years and is still a great example today of how a country with a large and strong army will be the one of the, if not the top country in the world.
The government policies that were in place at this time are what kept these Spartans in top war performance.
Once Spartans were born they were considered either fit or not fit to live in Sparta. This was of life may seem cruel and inhumane, but this is what it takes to be on top in ancient Greece. Neither the Persians, Athenians or any other country or city-states could wipe out the powerful Spartans for many years.
From the moment of a Spartan girl or a boy came into the world, the military and the city state were the center of every Spartan citizen’s life. Both male and female babies were determined by city state if they were strong enough to be Spartan citizens.
If the infants were too week or sick, they were abandoned in the country side to die. This was a very common thing in the Greek world because Sparta made it an official government policy.
The life of a male in Sparta was purely for military uses. Males at the age of seven would be sent away to train for twenty-seven years. Spartan boys ate, slept, and bonded together in these times and by the age of 20 were finally considered Spartan soldiers. At age thirty, they were finally “equals”, which means that they were out of training and now allowed to live with their wives and children.
Being an equal does not mean that they are relieved of their duties. Military services were required until the age of sixty. Spartan warriors had to be the strongest and most powerful soldiers for many reasons. To maintain dominance, to take over neighbouring city-states, but most importantly is because of their location. Sparta was located on a rock terrain in the mountain ranges, far away from any water source or sea. This area was not suitable for farming and agriculture, so to survive they needed to control other colonies and use their land to access water and grow crops.
This location forced Spartan warriors to train harder and fight stronger because in order for them to thrive in Greece they must be the dominating force. Spartan soldiers were known for their fearlessness on the battle field, determination to win and brutality in battle, but what they were known best for was their innovations in land warfare which is what made them nearly impossible to stop on the ground. The Hoplite Phalanx turned around the way that land battles were fought. Before it one-on-one hand-to-hand combat was most common way to fight. The hoplite phalanx, however, consisted of specially-armed infantry.
They all wore bronze body armour, helmets, bronze shin guards, and all carried shields. Their primary weapons were a short sword for close-range fighting, and an 8-15 foot long spear. Soldiers in Hoplite formation would stand shoulder to shoulder with one another in a straight line forming a wall in front with their shields. The soldiers would move forward in unison creating an unstoppable wall of shields swords and spears. This formation was made used specifically in the battle of Thermopylae. Three-hundred Spartans pushed back the all powerful Persians using the Hoplite Phalanx for 3 days.
The Spartan military had its main focus on foot soldier hand-to-hand combat. While other armies put their main attention on navy, such as Athens, Sparta mastered one on one combat with the Hoplite Phalanx. This positioning allowed them to be able to fight large armies who had them out numbered, but with their unique strategy and speciality on foot, it didn’t matter how many soldiers the enemy had, Sparta would usually come out on top none the less. The tactic used by Persia during the Peloponnesian wars was to attempt to outnumber the opponent.
The size of their army was much, much larger than either Athens or Sparta, but the fact that they were made up of different nations and people who spoke different languages and had different cultures played a huge role in their lack of success. First of all the soldiers are not well trained or properly equipped. Second of all those soldiers who don’t speak the same language as their man next to them will not succeed to win the battle. They must be willing to fight for their brother beside them on the front lines, if they have no will to fight for their brother, they will have no will to win the war.
The Spartan warriors have spent their whole life with the men beside them, this gives them an edge, and this gives them the advantage of wanting it that much more than the enemy. The will of fighting for your brothers gives them what no other nation has, the will to win. While all of the enemies are fighting for a king or ruler, Spartans are fighting for each other. The Spartans were full of innovated and creative ways to do things differently from others. One particular example was the way that they used their Helots. Helots were the lowest class of citizens that lived in Sparta, the fact that the Spartans had helots was amazing.
They were the citizens of the surrounding city-states that the Spartans had already taken over, Spartan kept these citizens rather than wiping out the entire population like other powerful nations would normally do. The Helots were described as between slaves and free men, this meaning that they lived among the other Spartans but were used to do physical labour jobs such as agriculture. The use of Helots in Sparta was extremely innovative because instead of wiping out an entire population, they use them for jobs around the city, which lets the soldiers worry about the only thing they should worry about, training for battle.
In all of Greece in this time, women were treated like possessions and not like a human being. For women in places such as Athens, were forced to do house work that their husbands just told them to do. With little to no independence they were basically slaves to their husbands. In Sparta however, women were treated almost equally to men. Women were, just as boys were, set to a physical examination directly after birth. Girls were given an education in both arts and athletics. This gave them an upper hand on many of the other women at the time in Greece, who had no education whatsoever.
Spartan women could not, however, use their education to have careers or earn money. Their income likely came from land holdings that either they or their families were given through a public land distribution program. Land ownership for women in the Greek world was certainly unheard of. Another advantage that the women of Sparta had was the fact that they could participate in sports and the Olympic Games. They could run naked in the races and compete against the other men runners, with mixed spectators watching. As well as compete in sports.
Girls could exercise outdoors naked with the men. This was impossible in all other parts of Greece considering that men and women were never to be naked in public together. Greek women were not even known to go outside for the exception of getting fresh water. The women were notorious for their witty humor and quick remarks to men in public. If a man were to try and sleep with the women, the women were known to fight back against the engagement and in some cases defeat the man, leaving him full of shame and embarrassment.
In city-states such as Athens for example, this would be unheard of, if a man wanted to sleep with a women, she would have no choice but to adhere to this request. Spartan military excellence during ancient Greece was due to a number of factors. The way that they raised their warriors, how they trained them, how they brought them up to be the best in the world, using tactics like training boys from young childhood and fighting formations like the Hoplite Phalanx, Spartan warriors are near the top of the list of greatest warriors in all of history.
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