11 Fun Ancient Spartan Facts For Kids That Will Blow Your Mind

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Jan 06, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Dec 16, 2021
Edited by Sarah Nyamekye
Sparta is considered to be among the most famous Greek city-states.

Sparta is considered to be among the most famous Greek city-states.

This city-state of ancient Greece is also the capital of Laconia. The residents of Sparta were called the Spartan citizens or Spartans.

Known for their military dominance, the Spartans were great warriors. Right from the very childhood, the Spartan citizens had to go through rigorous training to make them successful warriors.

There have been many movies and features made over the years on Sparta. The most famous being the '300', featuring Gerard Butler. If you have seen that movie, you might already have an idea of what Spartans' history is all about!

The citizens of this Ancient Greek state believed loyalty towards their state was more important than their family members. The same notion was being taught to the children as well. By the age of seven, they were sent to military schools, where they were often given the bare minimum of food.

If a person was caught stealing food, they were severely punished. Not only men but women also had to go through military training. However, it was not as harsh and brutal as that for the men.

The responsibility of looking after the house and the land when the men were fighting on the battlefield was bestowed upon the women. Fitness was the prime focus, and any citizen deemed unfit or overweight by the Spartans was thrown out of the country.

The wine was an important ingredient of the Spartan food diet. However, they never consumed too much of it as they were aware of the negative effects of overconsumption.

If you enjoyed this article, then why not also read about ancient Greece facts and ancient Indian facts here at Kidadl?

Spartan History

Spartan history is rich with stories of war and battles. Known for their military prowess, the warriors of Sparta were considered to be the most fearless warriors in ancient Greece. Spartans fought many wars, the most famous battle being the one at Thermopylae during the Persian wars.

Located in the regions of Southern Greece, Sparta did not maintain very good relations with other Greek city-states, especially Athens and Corinth. The Peloponnesian War held during the fifth century BC and the Corinthian war of the fourth century BC were some of the most damaging and notable battles fought by the Spartan army.

Typically, the Spartan society consisted of three social classes, namely the Spartan citizen, Perioikoi, and Helot. The Helot consisted of the majority of the population of Spartan society and were the slaves of the actual Spartans.

Since they were not the actual citizens of Sparta, they did not enjoy full freedom.

Even though they were allowed to own lands, most of the crops they could farm on their lands had to be given away to the Spartans. They also had to face various kinds of punishments and humiliation at the hands of Spartans.

The people belonging to the Helot were the main engines that ran the Spartan society and were given the responsibility of all the day-to-day chores. There have been instances where the Helots were beaten by their masters or the actual Spartans as well in order to stop them from rebelling against the government.

The Perioikoi were actually the citizens of Laconia initially. After they were defeated at the hands of the Spartans, most of the Laconians were allowed to inhabit the land of Sparta. Although they did not have to undergo the harsh treatment that was inflicted on the Helot, some restrictions were there. For example, they were not allowed to trade.

Lastly, the Spartans were those whose ancestors can be traced back to the earliest settlers of Sparta who helped to establish the settlement. Ironically, their number was quite low, compared to the Helots or the Perioikoi. They were considered to be the crux and the head of the society of ancient Sparta.

One of the most famous mythologies about Spartans is the Trojan war. When Menelaus, a Spartan king, had his wife Helen deceptively taken away by the Trojan prince Paris, it led to the Trojan War. Helen was supposedly the most beautiful of all women in ancient Greece.

Interestingly, the two kings of Sparta belonged to the Agiad and Eurypontid families. The firstborn child of these two families was made the king of Sparta, and they both had almost equal powers. The kings were the supervisors of the military of Sparta as well. They used to fight alongside their soldiers on the battlefields.

Spartan Warriors

The Spartan soldiers were by far considered to be the greatest warriors of the ancient world. A remarkable example of the boldness and courage of the warriors of Sparta is when Philip II, the king of Macedon, wanted to capture Sparta, he sent a message to the Spartans.

The reply to that warning was so bold and fearless that the king of Macedon did no longer wish to engage with the Spartan soldier and left them alone.

The Spartan army wore a crimson tunic to the battlefields so as to hide their wounds from the enemy. This is contrary to the popular pop-culture belief that the warriors of Sparta used to go with bare chests, as shown in most of the movies.

Right from childhood, the male Spartans had to undergo various forms of military training. While some of the forms of this military training were rather very regressive and cruel, they did yield the best results.

From the age of seven, a Spartan man had to undergo the system of Agoge. Under this system, they were made to live in communal messes and live through even starvation sometimes.

Their aim was to make the spartan youth realize the truth of life on the battlefields.

They were given the minimum amount of food and sometimes even had to go days without receiving any proper food. If by any chance, one of them dared to steal food, they had to face severe punishments as well.

The Spartan culture was based on loyalty to the state, and a Spartan soldier was trained in such a way that the loyalty to their state came even before their own family members. The shield was the most important object of the warrior society of the Spartans.

It was considered to be a great shame if any Spartan warrior lost their shield on the battlefield. If the Spartans died in the battle, their shields were used to carry them to the burial ground.

Even in their death, they were given great honor and had various grave markings that spoke of their courage in the battles. The Spartan soldiers retired at the age of 60 years. The three basic pieces of equipment that the Spartan army carried to the battlefields were the shield, spear, and a short sword which is called the xiphos.

Spartan Education

Spartans centered their education around military fitness and military service. From a very early age, the Spartan men had to go through rigorous training to become professional soldiers. Formal education was not restricted to the Spartan men alone. The Spartan girls also received military training, although theirs were not as rigorous as those of the Spartan boys.

The Spartan boys were taught how to read and write; however, it was considered secondary, as their primary focus was to make them join the Spartan military. Until the age of seven, they were allowed to stay with their mothers, but after that, they were sent to military schools, where they received the bare minimum amount of food.

The Spartan women, in fact, enjoyed more freedom when compared to other Greek women. They were perhaps the only women in ancient Greece who were taught how to yield a weapon and how to fight on the battlefield.

The Spartan citizens believed that strong Spartan women could give birth to strong babies. The Spartan women were married by the age of 18 years. They were given the responsibility of protecting the Spartan land when the men were away on the battlefields.

The Spartan kings accompanied their soldiers on the battlefields. The two kings of Sparta were the Agiad and Eurypontid families. Spartan boys were expected to be fit and healthy, and anyone who was overweight or did not fit the criteria for military strength was banished from the state.

The warrior society of the Spartans was indeed great, and they were considered to be the greatest warriors. Art and literature were not a part of the education system of Spartans, as the Spartan citizens were expected to be a part of the Spartan army one day.

The height of a Spartan is estimated to be about 5.7-5.10 ft (1.70-1.78 m).

The Spartans were the greatest warriors of ancient Greek history.

Spartan Military

The Spartan military was often considered to be the greatest of the ancient world. One of the most famous battles fought by the ancient Spartan military is the battle between King Leonidas and the Persian army of Xerxes I, also known as the Battle of Thermopylae.

During the Persian invasion, the Spartan military was outnumbered by the Persian soldiers. This urged King Leonidas to call for retreating of the Greek army while he, alongside 300 other soldiers, continued to fight the Persians.

The ancient Spartan military had to wear clothing of full-body armors on the battlefields. They were exceptionally known for their formation on the battlefields.

Like most other Greek city-states, the city-state of Sparta also used what we called the phalanx formation. It is a rectangular formation, accompanied by large shields on every side. The formation was deadly to an opponent, and if any person fell down in the formation, they were immediately removed by another from behind.

The Spartan law was also very strict. Possession of precious metals was not something very alluring to ancient Sparta. In fact, coins were not made out of precious metals like gold silver.

They were made out of iron. War and loyalty were the dominants of the Spartan state. The city-state of Sparta was finally defeated in 146 BC by the Roman Empire.

Apart from the military, Spartans were also famous for their music. During the Archaic Period, it was the center of music, when many poets and musicians from all around the world arrived at Sparta in search of work.

The first-ever musical contest in Sparta was, in fact, hosted by Terpander, the famous musician. The Spartans also used to engage in dancing as a fun activity.

Spartan Government

The ancient Sparta government was a combination of monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy. The kings were mainly the descendants of the Agiad and Eurypontid.

The firstborn child of these families were the rulers. They occupied the majority portion of the lands of Sparta and also supervised the army of Sparta. Other than these, there were other social authorities as well, like the Gerousia, Apella, and Ephors, who were assigned various tasks for the regulation of the state of Sparta.

The government and law of Sparta did not believe in possession of precious metals like gold and silver. Therefore the coins were also made out of iron instead of gold and silver.

The Helot were the slaves of the Spartans and did all forms of manual works. They were not full citizens and therefore did not have much freedom.

Although they were allowed to farm in their own lands, a majority of the farm produce used to be taken away by the Spartans. Seeing the growing number of Helots in the state, the Spartans also devised various ways to stop them from rebelling. They were often beaten up and forced to wear animal skin as clothes as well.

Originally fellow Greeks, the Helots mostly were from Laconia and Messenia and could sometimes belong to the Athenian culture. Sometimes, Spartan males would have relationships with Helot women.

The citizens of Sparta were trained for battles and wars since they were considered to be the greatest warriors in the Greek world. If you ever wish to visit modern Sparta, be sure to look out for the various sights and landmarks that offer the rich history of the empire of ancient Sparta.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ancient spartan facts, then why not take a look at ancient Japan facts or ancient Mayan facts?

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

Read full bio >