Sparta was a city-state in ancient Greece. Sparta was renowned for its military preeminence in the region. The entire city-state was organized to maximize its military capabilities. Given this reputation, Sparta led all of the combined Greek armies in the war against the Persians in the early 400s B.C.
Sparta was unique for its militaristic society in ancient Greece, but also for the fact that women enjoyed far more rights in Sparta than anywhere else in Greece and truly much of the ancient world. Sparta was ruled by two kings who came from the Agiad and Eurypontid families, it was believed by the Spartans that these families had descended from Heracles. Each king had equal power and neither could overrule the other. In addition to the kings, there was a high council of 28 elders who came from the royal houses that helped to decide important matters of the city. These men were usually over the age of 60 and were elected to the council for life.
Male citizens would begin their military training and education called agoge by the Spartans at the age of seven. This training lasted until the age of 20 when they became citizens, though they could not hold elected office until the age of 30. From the age of 20 to 30 men were members of the active military and could not live with their families until the age of 30. From the ages of 30 to 60 men were considered part of the active military reserve.
Spartan women, as mentioned, enjoyed freedoms not known to many of their ancient era counterparts, they learned to read, write and do math. They often married much later than other women of the era. Typically in their late teens or early 20s, instead of at age 12 or 13.
In ancient Sparta, citizenship was inherited by blood. This means only the children of citizens could become citizens. After many years of fighting, both against other Greek city-states and foreign enemies the population and power of Sparta eventually began to decline, but it remained a powerful force in the region and retained its independence until around 195 B.C.
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