On Sparta

There were two poleis (independent city-states) of ancient Greece that had the most significant influence on the socio-political history of the region: namely, Athens and Sparta. Of the two, it is Sparta that has most captured the imagination of subsequent generations. The reason for this is fairly straightforward: the Spartans, all Spartans, oriented their entire lives around producing elite warriors. Spartan officials inspected newborn males at birth. Those with physical defects were left to die on a nearby mountain. Those with no physical defects lived with their parents until the age of seven, at which point they were entered into a mentally and physically demanding state-sponsored military training program called the agoge. It was within the agoge that boys were indoctrinated with Spartan ideals—obedience, discipline, conformity, solidarity, and absolute fidelity to the state—and learned martial skills. At the age of twenty, those men who completed the agoge became official members of the military to fight and die for the glory of Sparta.