Link #104: Spartan Boys Received Military Training From Age Seven!



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Link #104: Spartan Boys Received Military Training From Age Seven!

Cropped version of Three Spartan boys practising archery by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, PD image.

Most people think that their country’s armies are the best in the world. Soldiers are almost always respected because they protect the civilians from dangers beyond their countries’ borders. In our last post, we spoke about the Australian soldier, Albert Jacka, who covered himself in glory no less than three times during WWI.

However, even Albert Jacka’s ruthlessness and hardiness pales when compared to the ancient Spartans. There’s a reason why the ancient Spartans are considered to be the best warriors in the history of human civilisation. This reason is that they had a war based society. In fact, did you know that Spartan boys were required to receive military training from the age of seven? What kind of military training? Read on.

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Did Spartan Boys Really Start Military Training From Age Seven?

300 the movie by Σταύρος (CC BY 2.0)

You may have seen the film 300 depicting the great feat of 300 Spartan men at the Hot Gates. You most probably even disregarded it as fiction. Whether that story is fiction or not, one thing that can’t be doubted is the militaristic society of Sparta.

The best example of this is that Spartan boys were trained to be warriors the moment they turned seven. Up to age seven, Spartan boys were brought up by their mothers. However, once that period passed, the boys were taken and put into military camps known as Agoge and given tough military training.

What Kind Of Military Training Did Spartan Boys Receive?

You may think that the military training Spartan boys received was basic and soft but you would be wrong. In fact, the Spartan military training was one of the toughest in human history. The purpose of the Agoge was to make Spartan boys as tough as possible. Because of this, they were regularly beaten and made to follow strict rules.

In fact, the Spartan boys weren’t even given enough food. The reason for this was that they were required to steal their food. If a Spartan boy was caught stealing food, he was punished with beatings. The boy was punished because he was caught and not because he chose to steal.

In fact, the humiliation of getting caught was considered to be worse than the beatings that followed for most boys. Also, Spartan boys were encouraged to fight each other. It was irrelevant whether they fought for real or in mock battles. They were also taught to read and write so that they could formulate and read war tactics and strategies.

A Spartan boy had to go through this training for the next 10 years. After 10 years, these boys became trainers of younger boys for the next two years. At the age of 20, these boys were expected to join the army.

When Did the Spartan Military Training Stop?

The Spartans never stopped training for war. Men were expected to keep in fighting shape till the age of 60. What’s more is that some men actually chose to continue training even beyond that age. Some historic documents describe old Spartan men going to war in times of need even when they were past the age of 60.

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