Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History

By Sarah B. Pomeroy; Stanley M. Burstein et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Admired in peace and dreaded in war, for much of the Archaic and Classical periods Sparta was the most powerful city in the Greek world. It was also different from other poleis. To be sure, the Spartans shared many basic institutions with other Greeks: their society was patriarchal and polytheistic, servile labor played a key role, and agriculture formed the basis of the economy. As elsewhere in Greece, law was revered and martial valor prized. Nonetheless, Sparta was unique in many important ways. No other Greek state ever defined its goals as clearly as Sparta or expended so much effort in trying to attain them. While the intrusion of the state into the lives of individuals was substantial in all Greek states, no state surpassed Sparta in the invasive role it played in the daily lives of its citizens. Spartans took enormous pride in their polis, and other Greeks were impressed by the rigorous patriotism and selflessness the Spartan system entailed. The Spartans' extreme denial of individuality fostered a powerful sense of belonging that other Greeks envied, and Sparta continues to cast an eerie spell over historians, philosophers, and political scientists even in an age that tends to recoil from totalitarianism.


Despite the interest the Spartans sparked in their contemporaries, it is surprisingly difficult to write the history of Sparta And of its surrounding territory, Laconia. The problem is not lack of sources. Though unfortunately all the sources concentrate on upper-class and royal Spartiates and provide little information about the majority of the population of the territory of Laconia--the servile masses known as helots and the large disfranchised free class known as perioikoi--still the volume of ancient writing on Sparta is large. In the course of their narratives on Greek history, the two greatest Greek historians, Herodotus and Thucydides, reveal a great deal about Spartan history, but the bulk of our infor


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 514

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?