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date: 26 May 2024



  • Stephen Hodkinson
  •  and Antony Spawforth


The Spartan public upbringing (never in fact so-called in surviving writers of the 5th and 4th cents. bce). Its reconstruction is bedevilled by poor and conflicting sources and modern debate over how far the reconstituted ‘customs (ethē) of *Lycurgus (2)’ of Roman Sparta reflect continuity with the Classical past. The Classical upbringing seems to have been a public system running parallel (Ducat, below) to any private arrangements for the more conventional education of young Spartans and incorporating archaic elements, especially ones based on *initiation. It was supervised by the paidonomos (‘boy-herdsman’), and embraced males aged 7–29. Only the immediate heirs to the kingships (see agiads; eurypontids) were exempt. There were three general stages, the paides (boys), paidiskoi (bigger boys), and hēbōntes (young men), probably representing ages 7–13, 14–19, and 20–29; among the paidiskoi (for sure), individual year-classes were separately named. The paides were trained in austerity, obedience, and mock battles by older youths within subdivisions of age-mates called variously in the sources ilai or agelai, sometimes with their own internal leadership, sometimes led by older youths.


  • Gender Studies
  • Greek History and Historiography

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