Sparta in Literature Criticism: Spartan Society And Culture - Essay

Paul Cartledge (essay date 1979)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Cartledge, Paul. “Helots and Perioikoi.” In Sparta and Lakonia: A Regional History 1300-362 BC., Second Edition, pp. 138-68. London: Routledge, 2002.

[In the following excerpt from his monograph originally published in 1979, Cartledge studies the class system of ancient Sparta and its relationship to labor, agriculture, and land, concentrating on the social and economic status of the Helots and Perioikoi.]


Plato had occasion to remark that the Helots afforded the subject for the liveliest controversy in Greece; the remark was noted and repeated some six centuries later by the learned Naucratite Athenaios. The controversy was not...

(The entire section is 8777 words.)

Anton Powell (essay date 1988)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Powell, Anton. “Life within Sparta.” In Athens and Sparta: Constructing Greek Political and Social History from 478 BC. Second Edition, pp. 218-70. London: Routledge, 2001.

[In the following excerpt from his monograph originally published in 1988, Powell probes the daily aspects of classical Spartan culture, including its secrecy, communality, and austerity.]


What went on inside Sparta was a question which intrigued many Greeks of other cities and is the subject of much recent study. In the fourth century, during or soon after the period of Sparta's empire, several studies of the subject were...

(The entire section is 9823 words.)

Paul Cartledge and Antony Spawforth (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Cartledge, Paul, and Antony Spawforth. “The Image of Tradition.” In Hellenistic and Roman Sparta: A Tale of Two Cities, pp. 190-211. London: Routledge, 1989.

[In the following excerpt, Cartledge and Spawforth affirm the archaism of Roman Sparta in its memorial observance of social traditions from the classical period.]

[The] profound political, social, and economic changes undergone by Sparta in the last three centuries bc had the effect of levelling much of the city's old distinctiveness. In the Roman Empire's heyday, under the Antonines and the Severi, Sparta emerges as in many ways a typical provincial Greek city, with its comfortable urban amenities,...

(The entire section is 5608 words.)

Paul Cartledge (essay date 2001)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Cartledge, Paul. “Literacy in the Spartan Oligarchy.” In Spartan Reflections, pp. 39-54. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Cartledge gathers the available evidence regarding the relative illiteracy of Sparta.]


Somewhere in the first half of the eighth century bc the ‘graphic counterpart of speech’ (David Diringer's nice expression) and a fully phonetic alphabetic script were respectively reintroduced and invented in Greek lands.1 Thus the Greeks (apart from those of Cyprus, among whom continuity of writing may be inferred) achieved the feat, unique among European peoples, of...

(The entire section is 10208 words.)