Sparta was Ancient Greece city state and an inward looking warrior society who reached their height of power during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) after defeating their arch rivals Athens and her supporters.
All Spartan culture was based on loyalty to the state and military service. Spartan boys were taken from their mothers and started military training at only 7 years of age. They were sent to the barracks where they learnt Agoge, a system that emphasized duty, discipline and endurance.
A Spartan man would stay living in the barracks until he was around 30 years old when he would be allowed to marry “only” Spartan women. Often a Spartan warrior would return to the barracks each night even after they were married.
Unlike such Greek city-states as Athens, a center for the arts, learning and philosophy, Sparta was centered on a warrior culture. Male Spartan citizens were allowed only one occupation: soldier.
No one soldier was considered superior to another. Going into battle, a Spartan soldier, or hoplite, wore a large bronze helmet, breastplate and ankle guards, and carried a round shield made of bronze and wood, a long spear and sword. Spartan warriors were also known for their long hair and red cloaks.
Because Spartan men were “all” professional soldiers, all manual labor was done by Helots, whose name means “captives,” these were fellow Greeks, originally from Laconia and Messenia, who had been conquered by the Spartans brutally oppressed and turned into slaves.
Despite their military prowess, the Spartans’ dominance was short-lived: In 371 B.C., they were defeated by Thebes at the Battle of Leuctra, In a further blow, late the following year, Theban general Epaminondas (c.418 B.C.-362B.C.)led an invasion into Spartan territory and oversaw the liberation of the Helots and their empire went into a long period of decline.