Five protesting marchers were killed in the incident.
The ancient Greek city-state of Sparta has made its way into modern minds as a land of warriors. During the fourth and fifth centuries B. Of course, there was a dark side to this ruthless pursuit of military might. For example, the Spartan slaves known as helots endured unimaginable suffering while living alongside a society of trained killers.
The helots were brutalized, humiliated, and — via a brutal rite of passage that the Spartans called the Krypteia — hunted down and killed. Slavery was a major part of ancient Spartan society. When we think about Sparta, we tend to think about the warriors that led their city, but they were only a small part of the population.
Those Spartan warriors were nothing more than a small, elite class, ruling over a much larger society. In fact, slaves outnumbered citizens seven to one in Sparta.
Despite their numbers, though, slaves were treated in unimaginably horrible ways — even by the standards of slavery. Their lives were full of humiliation. They would be beaten if they tried to sing Spartan songs because it suggested that they viewed themselves as equals.
And to teach boys and young men about the dangers of drunkenness, adult Spartan males would get their slaves drunk and force them to embarrass themselves. Even their neighbors felt sorry for the Spartan slaves. In Athens, they had a saying: Spartans taught young girls to fight, believing it made them tougher in childbirth.
The worst torture that Spartan slaves endured, however, was undoubtedly the Krypteia. The Krypteia which can refer both to the group in question and the acts that they carried out was a state program that, at any moment and without the slightest warning, could have a helot slave jumped by a group of young Spartan men and stabbed to death.
The best and brightest Spartan boys would become part of the Krypteia as they were on the verge of becoming men.
To train them for warfare, they would be given daggers and a few essential supplies, then ordered to murder helots at will. They would sneak along roads and into fields, often in the countryside and often at night, and pounce on unsuspecting helots. Whenever they could, they would target the biggest and the strongest among them.
Not every Greek was as disturbed as Plutarch, though. Many Spartans thought that killing slaves was a noble tradition, and even a few Athenians were on board. The philosopher Plato even quoted the praises that a Spartan named Megillus lavished upon the Krypteia: One would think that a program as brutal as the Krypteia would have a definitive reason for being, but accounts actually vary as to why it existed.When we think about Sparta, we tend to think about the warriors that led their city, but they were only a small part of the population.
Those Spartan warriors were nothing more than a small, elite class, ruling over a much larger society. Postmedia Solutions gives you the power to grow your business. We blend media expertise with smart marketing.
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