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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. Beginnng from age 12 a boy entered into more-or-less institutionalized pederastic relations with a young adult (see homosexuality). The training regime intensified for the paidiskoi, who were presented at the syssitia. The hēbōntes joined the syssitia and army, competing for places among the 300hippeis, the kings' bodyguard (see hippeis § 3), and could marry; a select group participated in the krypteia; Plutarch’s claim (Lyc. 15. 7–8), that they lived in barracks, has been doubted. Distancing boys from their families (paides and paidiskoi ate together in their own syssitia), the upbringing emphasized military preparedness but was also a training for Spartan citizenship, inculcating conformity and the priority of collective interests, but also promoting the emergence of future élites. A diluted version of physical training existed for females.

The post-Classical training underwent several changes: initial decay; reconstruction in the 220s bce under Cleomenes (2) III; abolition by Philopoemen in 188; finally, a ‘revival’ with Roman approval (after 146 bce?), with further augmentations. The Roman training was essentially an ephebic (see ephēboi) system for males aged 14–19, supervised by the bideioi (‘overseers’) and patronomos (‘guardian of law’), and based on the citizen-tribes (phylai). The training included song, dance, athletic and military exercises, and probably intellectual instruction, along with the notorious flagellation at the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, an innovative spectacle reflecting Roman as well as Spartan traditions. (See spartan cults).


N. M. Kennell, The Gymnasium of Virtue (1995).Find this resource:

    J. Ducat, Spartan Education (2006).Find this resource:

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