Ancient Sparta has been admired through the centuries for the heroism of its warriors. Is this legendary reputation justified?

Answer: Sparta was one of the most famous and powerful city-states in Ancient Greece.

Tough, austere, heroic and above all warlike, Spartan Hoplites were famous for their skill and bravery in battle.

Spartan men trained to become warriors from the day they were born. Their soldiers drilled and practiced endlessly, fighting in a famous phalanx formation. Shields locked together they advanced, their spears thrusting into the enemy.

Rarely breaking formation, Spartan armies vanquished much bigger military forces. Beyond these martial skills, the Spartan’s organizational abilities were a magnificent and symbolic embodiment of Greek cooperative citizenry.

According to Greek historian Plutarch, to encourage equality and stop the development of a wealthy elite, Sparta used long and heavy iron rods as currency. A weighty and cumbersome currency, it was believed, would discourage wealth accumulation.

One of the most famous Spartan encounters was the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE. The last stand of King Leonidas and his three hundred Spartan hoplites against the massed forces of Persian monarch Xerxes the first, is the stuff of legend.

The Spartan Dieneces, when told that the Persian archers would shoot so many arrows they would conceal the Sun, replied:

“This is good news … if the Persians hide the Sun, we shall do battle in the shade.”

Source: The Spartans by Paul Cartledge

More at: History

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