201 - Lecture 5

201 Lecture 5 - CLAS 201(Lecture Five We have finished with our description of the Athenian city-state(as far as its democratic institutions are

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CLAS 201 (Lecture Five) We have finished with our description of the Athenian city-state (as far as its democratic institutions are concerned). Let us now turn to a very different polis – Sparta. SOURCES To begin with, the sources for Spartan history are all non-Spartan. As we shall see, the Spartans were suspicious of a life of the mind and did not development the institutions that would make higher education and intellectual speculation possible within the Spartan state. They do not write history or philosophy like the Athenian and have therefore not passed on their version of their history or their own description of their social operations. We have to rely upon Athenians (Xenophon, Plato, Thucydides and others) for a description of their way of life. Given the terrible war that breaks out between the two states, one would think the Athenian report we have of Sparta would be entirely negative and lacking in nuance. In actual fact, some Athenian writers admired Sparta greatly. Far from casting Spartans in an ugly light, they have come close to idealizing them on occasion. EARLY HISTORY Perioikoi The Spartans live in an area of Greece known as Laconia. It lies in the southern half of the Peloponnese. Spartans can be referred to as Laconians. Sparta is mentioned by Homer – that is, there was a Mycenaean town on the site of classical Sparta. This area was overrun during the Dorian invasion, however, and the original inhabitants were slaughtered, absorbed or fled the scene. In place of the Mycenaean structure, there were five villages. These united at one point (an instance of synoecism) and formed the foundations of the Spartan state. The Spartans weren’t the only people living in Laconia. They set about dealing with their many neighbours. These neighbours were Dorians, but belonged to tribes that differed from the Spartan strain. The Spartans subdued them and brought them under their control. As a whole these neighbours were referred to as the perioikoi (those who dwell around us). Relations between the Spartans and the perioikoi were stable. The perioikoi could have contact with outsiders (unlike the Spartans themselves who were very insular), could practice trade and live by their own laws. They had some independence in other words. On the other hand their men, while not subject to Spartan laws and training, had to serve in the Spartan army but could not marry Spartans or have a say in Spartan government. Throughout most of Spartan history, the perioikoi were loyal to the Spartans, a sign that the relations between them were very strong.
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Messenian Wars Messenia is a region of the Peloponnese that is northwest of Laconia. Its soil is fertile – more fertile than the soil in Sparta. While the population (in the wake of the Dorian invasion) was Dorian, these people were tribally different from the Dorians. In the mid 8
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This note was uploaded on 10/31/2011 for the course CLAS 201 taught by Professor Nickmaes during the Fall '11 term at Waterloo.

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201 Lecture 5 - CLAS 201(Lecture Five We have finished with our description of the Athenian city-state(as far as its democratic institutions are

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