Sparta  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c. 650 BC it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece.

Sparta was the subject of fascination in its own day, as well as in the West following the revival of classical learning. Sparta continues to fascinate Western culture; an admiration of Sparta is called laconophilia.

In the modern times, the adjective "spartan" is used to imply simplicity, frugality, or avoidance of luxury and comfort. The term laconic phrase describes a very terse and concise way of speaking that was characteristic of the Spartans.

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Laconophilia

Laconophilia is love or admiration of Sparta and of the Spartan culture or constitution. Sparta was subject of considerable admiration in its day, even in its rival, Athens. In ancient times "Many of the noblest and best of the Athenians always considered the Spartan state nearly as an ideal theory realised in practice." Many Greek philosophers, especially Platonists, would often describe Sparta as an ideal state, strong, brave, and free from the corruptions of commerce and money.

With the revival of classical learning in Renaissance Europe, Laconophilia re-appears, for examples in the writings of Machiavelli. The Elizabethan English constitutionalist John Aylmer compared the mixed government of Tudor England to the Spartan republic, stating that "Lacedemonia [meaning Sparta], [was] the noblest and best city governed that ever was". He commended it as a model for England. The Swiss-French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau contrasted Sparta favourably with Athens in his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, arguing that its austere constitution was preferable to the more cultured nature of Athenian life. Sparta was also used as a model of social purity by Revolutionary and Napoleonic France.

Certain early Zionists, and particularly the founders of Kibbutz movement in Israel, had been influenced by Spartan ideals, particularly as a model for education. Tabenkin, for example, a founding father of the Kibbutz and the Palmach, was influenced by Spartan education. He prescribed that education for warfare "should begin from the nursery", that children should from kindergarten age be taken to "spend nights in the mountains and valleys".

A new element of Laconophilia by Karl Otfried Müller, who linked Spartan ideals to the supposed racial superiority of the Dorians, the ethnic sub-group of the Greeks to which the Spartans belonged. Adolf Hitler praised the Spartans, recommending in 1928 that Germany should imitate them by limiting "the number allowed to live". He added that "The Spartans were once capable of such a wise measure... The subjugation of 350,000 Helots by 6,000 Spartans was only possible because of the racial superiority of the Spartans." The Spartans had created "the first racialist state".

In the modern times, the adjective "spartan" is used to imply simplicity, frugality, or avoidance of luxury and comfort. The term laconic phrase describes a very terse and concise way of speaking that was characteristic of the Spartans.

Sparta also features prominently in modern popular culture (see Sparta in popular culture), particularly the Battle of Thermopylae (see Battle of Thermopylae in popular culture).

Eugenics

In Sparta, eugenics was practised, not scientifically but selectively and judged by the infant's ability to live. If the child was deemed incapable of living, it was usually thrown from the Taygetus mountain. It was more common for girls than boys to be killed this way. Adolf Hitler considered Sparta to be the first "Völkisch State," and much like Ernst Haeckel before him, praised Sparta due to its primitive form of eugenics practice of selective infanticide policy which was applied on deformed children.

Related terms

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sparta" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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