Sparta was a powerful city-state in ancient Greece, ruled by a small group of retired warriors. This type of government is called an oligarchy. The Spartans spoke Greek and thought of themselves as Greeks, but Sparta was very different from the other Greek city-states.
All citizens in ancient Greece were warriors, but the Spartans were the best warriors in all of Greece. The city-state of Sparta was basically a well-trained army. In other city-states, children entered military school at age 18. In Sparta, they entered at age 6. The girls attended schools that were separate from the boys' schools. The girls also learned how to fight and steal and lie and kill; skills that could save their lives in times of war.
The Spartans were tough. Men and male children, from the age of 6, lived in the soldiers' barracks until they retired from military service. The men were often away, fighting. The women stayed behind to guard the homes. Perhaps because of this, women in ancient Sparta had a great deal of freedom. They ran businesses and were free to move around and visit neighbors without asking their husbands’ permission.
Not all residents of Sparta were citizens of Sparta. To be a citizen with full rights, the men had to prove they were the ancestors of the original people who lived in Sparta. If they couldn't prove it or couldn't afford to pay for the research, they were not granted citizenship. Citizens had many rights like the right to a fair trial and the right to be educated to be a good warrior and to live in the barracks. Non-citizens could be killed for no reason at all.
The other Greek city-states had no desire to be Spartans. Many thought they were military fanatics, even though they admired Spartan strength. Most Greeks wanted Sparta on their side. No incredible works of art were created in Sparta as they were in other Greek city-states, but Spartans were good friends to have in times of war.
Source: Ancient Greek City-State of Sparta
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