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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY

From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS

I. THE LANDS OF THE WEST AND THE RISE OF GREECE TO ABOUT 500 B.C.

The Authentic Greek New Testament
The Authentic Greek New Testament


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Page 21

THE ADULT SPARTAN

On reaching the age of twenty the youth was considered a warrior. He did not live at home, but passed his time in barracks, as a member of a military mess to which he contributed his proper share of food, wine, and money. At the age of thirty years the young Spartan became a full citizen and a member of the popular assembly. He was then compelled to marry in order to raise children for the state. But marriage did not free him from attendance at the public meals, the drill ground, and the gymnasium. A Spartan, in fact, enjoyed little home life until his sixtieth year, when he became an elder and retired from actual service.

EXCELLENCE OF THE SPARTAN SOLDIERY

This exclusive devotion to military pursuits accomplished its object. The Spartans became the finest soldiers of antiquity. "All the rest of the Greeks," says an ancient writer, "are amateurs; the Spartans are professionals in the conduct of war." [22] Though Sparta never produced great thinkers, poets or artists, her military strength made her the bulwark of Greece against foreign foes. The time was to come when Greece, to retain her liberties, would need this disciplined Spartan soldiery. [23]

[22] Xenophon, Polity of the Lacedaemonians, 13.

[23] The Spartans believed that their military organization was the work of a great reformer and law-giver named Lycurgus. He was supposed to have lived early in the ninth century B.C. We do not know anything about Lycurgus, but we do know that some existing primitive tribes, for instance, the Masai of East Africa, have customs almost the same as those of ancient Sparta. Hence we may say that the rude, even barbarous, Spartans only carried over into the historic age the habits of life which they had formed in prehistoric times.

 

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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY: Table of Contents

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Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy

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