➊ Romans Vs Spartans

Monday, September 27, 2021 2:18:49 AM

Romans Vs Spartans

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Sparta seemed to be content with themselves and provided their army whenever required. That is why it considered itself as the protector of the Greek. On the other hand, Athens wanted to take control of more and more land in Greece. This idea eventually led to war between the Greeks. What the two communities had in common was that they were both thinkers. They worshiped their gods and respected people. They loved beauty, music, literature, drama, philosophy, politics, art, and sports.

It could be said that some even loved battle itself. Where they differed was that while the Spartans had militaristic values, Athenians were democratic. The Spartans emphasized only on expanding their power and gaining control over other kingdoms while the Athenians also grew infrastructure wise in ancient times. They understood the importance of such growth and concentrated on them besides on military strength. Sparta has had two rulers in recent times, who ruled until they died. On the other hand, the ruler of Athens is elected annually.

Athens is said to have been the birthplace of democracy. Five Ephors were elected annually, accompanied by two kings, who passed on the crowns to their chosen sons. Other purposes of the general assembly were to vote on and pass legislation and make civil decisions. As a whole, the five Ephors had the power to overrule the Kings, but tended to keep to religious and militaristic duties.

Each would take charge for about a month, and ten generals were automatically elected due to their experience. Compared to the simple lifestyle of the Spartan people, Athenians had a very modern and open outlook. Unlike Sparta, in Athens, boys were not forced to join the army. As an Athenian, one could get a good education and could pursue several kinds of arts and sciences. Sparta people were not open to education and they only concentrated on military strength and obedience and they didn't interact much with the outside world.

Sparta was content to keep to itself and provided army and assistance when necessary to other states. Athens, on the other hand, wanted to control more and more of the land around them. This eventually led to war between all the Greeks. Athens had a Mediterranean climate with great amount of precipitation, whereas Sparta had fairly temperate but very dry climate. Due to soil erosion and less vegetation, water was a very scanty commodity in Sparta.

Family ties in Athens were stronger and women were legally the dependents of their husbands or their father. They could own no property apart from the family. In Sparta, women had rights that other Greek women did not have. In Sparta women were stronger and they formed liaisons with men as they chose. They could also own property by themselves. In Athens women did chores such as weaving or cooking, but in Sparta the women were free of all such chores.

Athens and Sparta were two rival city-states, while the latter had very well trained military and soldiers, the former boasted of a good navy. Athens and its allies, known as the Delian League , came into conflict with the Spartans and the Peloponnesian league, and in BC a war broke out between the two cities - a war based on trade routes, rivalries, and tributes paid by smaller dependent states. This conflict, the Peloponnesian War, essentially was a year period of on and off civil war among Greek city-states.

A city-state was a city, such as Athens, and the surrounding country under its influence and protection; Athens and its surrounding area, known as Attica , was about the size of Rhode Island. Both sides experienced major victories and crushing defeats, and the war was frequently interrupted by periods of negotiated peace. The war ended in BC with the defeat of Athens and its democracy. Sparta was mainly an agricultural land because of its inland location. The most important imports were metals. In Sparta, men were mainly warriors; others were slaves. Their economy was mainly based on agriculture. Athens economy was dependent more upon trade.

The youth also had to cut his hair short and walk barefooted, while most of his clothes were taken away from him. The Spartans believed that such uncompromising measures made the pre-teen boy tough while enhancing his endurance levels for all climates in fact, the only bed he was allowed to sleep in the winter was made of reeds that had been plucked personally by the candidate from the River Eurotas valley. Added to this stringent scope, the youth was intentionally fed with less than adequate food so as to stoke his hunger pangs.

This encouraged the youth to sometimes steal food; and upon being caught, he was punished — not for stealing the food, but for getting caught. At the age of 18, the Spartan male was perceived as an adult citizen eiren of the state and thus was liable for full military service till the age of For the Spartiates Homoioi , this military service generally equated to being inducted into the ranks of the famed Spartan hoplites. Now from the perspective of history, in spite of the popular imagery of Spartans fighting in massed formations, academia has not reached a consensus when it comes to their original organizational scopes.

This tribe system with ties of citizenry, not blood was a natural evolution of the Greek society and military that required disciplined formations and trained men for protracted warfare. Such measures over time gave rise to the Greek hoplites , a class of warriors who were not really separate from the citizens themselves. In essence, a hoplite was a citizen-soldier who took up arms to defend or expand the realm of his city-state. And it should be noted that as a general rule, most adult males of the Greek city-states were expected to perform military service. For example, when the exiled Spartan king Demaratos was asked the question — why men are dishonored only when they lose their shields but not when they lose their cuirasses?

Furthermore, Xenophon also talked about the more tactical side to a hoplite phalanx, which was more than just a closely-packed mass of armored spearmen. Similarly, in the case of a phalanx of Greek or Spartan hoplites, Xenophon talked about how the best men should be placed both in front and rear of the ranks. Interestingly enough, popular depictions of ancient warfare frequently involve the pushing and shoving of the Spartan hoplites when they closed in with the enemy. In other words, a hoplite charge was often not successful because the citizen-soldiers tended to break their ranks and disperse even before starting a bold maneuver.

As a result, the army that held its ground often emerged victorious — thus exemplifying how morale was far more important than sheer strength in numbers. This alludes to why the courageous Spartans were considered lethal in a battlefield. The spear was the main offensive weapon of the Spartans, so much so that they were required to carry it during all times of a campaign. Most of these spears were made of ash wood, probably due to its longer grains that allowed for larger pieces — thereby having the advantages of both lightness and strength. The leaf-shaped spearhead was made of iron, while the butt-spike was made of bronze possibly a later design modification so as to mitigate the dampness from the ground when the spear was rested upon it.

The supporting wooden or leather component underneath was also laminated, thus allowing for more curvature and strength. Suffice it to say, much like the Roman scutum , the aspis was used as a bashing weapon in close quarters — thus effectively making it an instrument of offense in spite of its core defensive credentials. And even beyond battlefield tactics, there was a symbolic essence attached to the Spartan shield — so much so that it was considered along with the spear as the most important part of the Spartan army panoply. So soldiers who lost their shields in the battlefield were often punished afterward.

And as for swords, according to Prof. Secunda, by late 5th century BC, Greek armies tended to discard their heavy body armor in favor of enhanced mobility. Interestingly enough, mirroring the very same period, the swords known as xiphos carried by the Spartan army got shorter — almost to a point that their length could be compared to daggers. This might have had its tactical benefit, with the short length forcing the Spartan warrior to thrust his weapon at the torso and groin areas of his opponent, as opposed to the conventionally longer Greek sword that was often used to slash at the head.

And as with many Laconic phrases, there are literary tidbits put forth by Plutarch when it came to the exceedingly short swords of the Spartan army. The fire from this sacrifice was then carried forth by a specially appointed fire-bearer or pyrphorus , all the way to the border. The flame was never extinguished as the fire-bearer accompanied the army on its march, and he was followed by a flock of shepherded animals.

Among these animals, the katoiades probably the she-goat was chosen as the prime sacrificial victim dedicated to the goddess Artemis Agrotera. However, on the practical side of affairs, the flame was probably not snuffed out so that it could also serve as cooking fire for the army on the march while maintaining its symbolic resplendence. As for recreations, it was said the only time a Spartan warrior took a break from military training was during the war. However, the statement is not entirely true, since the Spartans were expected to exercise daily in both morning and evening sessions, even during ongoing campaigns.

The only break they got from camp training was after dinner when soldiers huddled together to sing their hymns. Then the polemarchoi a senior military title holder decided the winner and accorded him a choice piece of meat as the gift. The singing, however, was not just limited to the camp. Before the commencement of a battle, the king once again made sacrifices to the goddess Artemis. The Spartan army officers then grouped the hoplites and their lines started moving forward with some wearing wreaths , while the king began to sing one of many marching-songs composed by Tyrtaios.

He was complemented by pipers who played the familiar tune, thus serving as a powerful auditory accompaniment to the progressing Spartan army. Interestingly, as with many Greek customs, there might have been a practical side underneath this seemingly religious veneer. According to Thucydides, the songs and their tunes kept the marching line in order, which entailed a major battlefield tactic — since Greek warfare generally involved a steady approach to the enemy positions with a solid, unbroken line. This incredible auditory scope ended in a crescendo with the collective yet sacred war-cry of paean , a military custom that was Dorian in origin.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, by the late 5th century, while their army boasted both courage and tenacity, the intrinsic strength was eroded by the available numbers. For example, at the Battle of Thermopylae circa BC , the Greek forces possibly had around 7, men. Within this force, the Spartiates Spartan free citizens themselves only had men, while being accompanied by over a thousand perioikoi and helots from Sparta. Furthermore, Thucydides mentions how the low population of the Spartiates possibly allowed for a paltry force of only 2, Spartan hoplites by BC. The reasons for such low numbers could have pertained to various possibilities, with hypotheses like how a calamitous earthquake afflicted the citizen Spartans in circa BC and the high casualties suffered in the Third Messenian War.

To rectify the dwindling numbers, the Spartans began to actively recruit the free but non-citizen perioikoi class into its organizational scope. By the time of the Second Peloponnesian War, the Spartans even trained hoplites from the helot ranks. The first of these helot hoplites were freed after they returned from their Thracian military campaign that took place over three years and ended in BC. After defeating the Spartans at the naval Battle of Pylos in circa BC, the Athenians controlled the Pylos peninsula southwestern Greece and established a raiding base in the region.

The Spartans tried to counter the Athenian forays by establishing a cavalry force of strength. And while such a decision seemed tactically appropriate, the Spartan state was already financially debilitated by the Peloponnesian War — and thus could ill afford a mounted force whose logistical scope and battlefield applications were somewhat alien to the Spartans. As a solution, only the richest from both Spartiate and perioikoi background were allowed in the regiment since they could afford horses.

Furthermore, according to the anecdotes of Plutarch, many of the recruits were possibly ill-suited to hoplite combat because of their physical incapability or low morale. But beyond just avoiding any archery training, the Spartans possibly abhorred archery as a skill. Plutarch once again provides numerous anecdotes, and one of them relates to how a Spartan warrior was mortally wounded by an enemy archer.

There were even incidences when the Spartans simply refused to fight when they were at the receiving end of a determined archery barrage. One such episode related to an encounter in BC, when an entire Spartan garrison surrendered after being afflicted by enemy arrows. One of the survivors was later mocked by his Athenian counterpart, who derided the soldier for surrendering and thus not showcasing the braveness expected of a Spartan warrior.

The soldier replied that it was only a fine spindle atrakon that could distinguish the brave. The spindle, in this case, alluded to the instrument of a woman. Nevertheless, the austere Spartan army was forced to adopt mixed tactics in the future that involved archers and other missile troops; but most of the archers were probably mercenaries employed from Crete. Additionally, the Spartans also began to employ the allied Skiritai, hailing from the mountainous Arcadia, as both hoplites and peltasts skirmishers. According to Xenophon, the crimson robes and bronze shields carried by the Spartans was mandated by their legendary law-giver Lycurgus.

Plutarch interestingly added to this view by stating that the red-hued clothing might have psychologically afflicted the enemy while also hiding the bloody wounds of a Spartan warrior. On the other hand, beyond bravery and masculinity, there was possibly more cultural reasoning behind the preference of crimson clothing in the Spartan army. To that end, crimson was generally considered as an expensive dye. Xenophon also talked about how soldiers should be dressed at their best in a battle, in case the Gods granted them to victory and the troops, in turn, could mark the occasion in an opulent manner, or die in a regal manner. So the Spartan mothers and wives proudly made the battle tunics of their sons and husbands with the finest possible materials.

This societal tendency later transformed into a norm by 4th century BC, and thus the Spartan army became uniformly draped in crimson robes. Earlier in the post, we also mentioned how the meirakion or youth was forced to cut his hair short while training in the agoge. But as Prof. Secunda noted, according to Xenophon, once the Spartan male entered manhood possibly, at the age of 21 , he was allowed and sometimes even encouraged to grow his hair long.

This notion once again had a cultural bearing, with the elders believing that long hair made the person seem taller in stature, and thus more dignified as a Spartan warrior in the battlefield. And according to Plutarch, long hair made good-looking men more handsome and the ugly-looking men more terrifying — both of which had their psychological value in the Spartan army. Even simple accusations of cowardice against a Spartan warrior could initiate government rulings that officially excluded him from holding any office inside the state of Sparta. Furthermore, they were made to wear specially designed cloaks with multifarious colors and also had to shave half their beard.

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