Sparta, Or Lacedaemon, In Antiquity, the capital of Laconia and the chief city of the Peloponnesus. It was on the right bank of the Eurotas, between the tributaries Oenus and Tiasa, about 20 m. from the sea, in a valley of remarkable beauty and fertility, bounded W. and E. by the ranges of Taygetus and Parnon. It was about 6 m. in circumference, and consisted of distinct quarters which were originally separate villages. During its most flourishing period it was unfortified, being protected by the natural ramparts of the valley. Its quarters were Pitane in the north, the favorite place of residence, Cynosura in the southwest, Limnae in the east along the Eurotas, and Mesoa in the southeast. Aegidae, in the northwest, adjoining Pitane, is also mentioned by some wri-ters, but it was probably the name of a tribe or family and not of a quarter. One of its steepest hills (the northern hill, according to Leake; the hill of the theatre, according to Cur-tius) was called the acropolis, on which were the temples of Athena Chalcicecus, the tutelary goddess of the city, of Athena Ergane, the Muses, Zeus Cosmetas, and Aphrodite Areia, and many statues in honor of divinities and heroes.
In the agora, near the acropolis, and adorned with temples and statues, were the council house of the senate and the offices of the public magistrates, the Persian stoa built of spoils taken in the Persian war, and the place called Chorus where Spartan youths danced in honor of Apollo. Two principal streets, named Aphetai's and Skias, extended nearly parallel to each other from the agora, the former to the S., the latter to the S. E. extremity of the city. Upon the largest of the Spartan heights was the theatre, a magnificent building of white marble, the two wings of which still remain, 430 ft. apart, built of massive quadrangular blocks, and forming the most important relics of the ancient city. The private houses of Sparta, and even the palace of the kings, were always simple and unadorned, but it was equalled by few other Greek cities in the magnificence of its temples and statues. The modern town of Sparta, built since the war of independence, occupies one of the hills in the S. part of the ancient site. Its streets are laid out on a large scale, and it has a population of about 8,000. The nomarch and other officials of Laconia reside here. The villages of Magula and Psychiko are near it, and 3 m.
W. of it is Mis-tra, which was the chief place of the district in mediaeval and Turkish times. - According to tradition, the Leleges were the most ancient inhabitants, and Lelex the first king, in the vale of the middle Eurotas. Lacedaemon, son of Jupiter and Taygete, married Sparta, third in descent from Lelex, and gave the name of his wife to the city which he founded, and his own name to the people and country. During the mythical era of the Achaean monarchies, Menelaus reigned at Sparta, as Agamemnon at Mycenae and Diomedes at Argos. After the Dorian invasion and conquest of the Peloponnesus, under the Heraclidae, Sparta fell to Eurysthenes and Procles, the twin sons of the Heraclid Aristodemus; and from that epoch date the long succession of two joint kings, and the distinction between the conquerors, who were called Spartans, and the native Achreans (Perioeci), who became tributary. At first inferior to Argos, Sparta became the chief of the Dorian powers only after the institutions of Lycurgus had made it a nation, of professional soldiers.
The introduction of the Lycurgan discipline (not later, according to Grote, than 825 B. C.), the earliest determinable event in its internal history, was followed by aggressions which gradually extended its sway over the greater part of the Peloponnesus. There is no certain personal history of Lycurgus, and his very existence has been doubted by critics. (See A. Trieber, Forschungen zur spartanischen Verfassungs-gescMchte, Berlin, 1871.) The Lycurgan legislation has been called the codification of the usages of the Doric race. It recognized three classes of persons: 1, the Spartans, of Dorian stock, resident in the city, alone eligible to public offices, all warriors, supported from the lands around the city which belonged to them, and being disfranchised when they failed to pay their quota to the public mess; 2, the Perioeci or Laconians, freemen of the neighboring townships, with no political power, devoted to agriculture and industry, paying rent for their land, and forming bodies of heavy-armed soldiers in war; and 3, the helots, or serfs, bound to the soil, which they tilled for the Spartan proprietors, and sometimes employed both in domestic and military service.
The equal division of land into 9,000 lots for Spartans and 30,000 lots for Perioeci is doubted by Grote; and the number of Spartan citizens diminished from the era of the Persian war, when Herodotus estimated them at 8,000, to the time of Agis IV., when they had dwindled to TOO, of whom 100 alone possessed most of the landed property of the state. At the head of the government were two hereditary kings, whose power was gradually restricted till their position was one of nominal honor rather than real authority. The legislative power was exercised by two assemblies, that of the elders and that of the citizens; the former was composed of the two kings and 28 members aged at least 60 years, who were judges in capital cases, and initiated and discussed all measures submitted to the popular assembly; and the latter, composed of all Spartan citizens of 30 years of age and of unblemished character, met once a month, and had the right to approve or reject measures by acclamation, but not to amend them. The ephors, corresponding to the Roman tribunes of the people, and probably of later origin than the age of Ly-curgus, were the representatives of this assembly, and during the Peloponnesian war exerted despotic authority, having completely superseded the kings as directors of affairs.
The most important part of the Lycurgan legislation related to the discipline and education of the citizens. The individual was held to exist exclusively for the state, to which he should devote all his time, property, and energies; and every child, therefore, was under public inspection from his birth, and was trained simply with reference to warlike exercises, since mechanical labor, husbandry, and commerce were despised and neglected. If weak or deformed, he was exposed to perish; otherwise, he was taken at seven years of age from his mother's care, and educated in the public classes, where he was subjected to the severest bodily discipline, to habits of subordination, dexterity, and a terseness of speech which became distinguished as "laconic." At the age of 30 he was allowed to engage in public affairs and to marry, but still continued under public discipline, took his meals at the public mess, slept in the public barracks, and was released from military service only in his 60th year. Both sexes were subjected to nearly the same rigorous gymnastic training, the aim being not domestic enjoyment or refinement, but the production of a hardy race of citizens.
The great men that arose from this discipline were distinguished exclusively for military genius. - Under the Lycurgan constitution Sparta began its career of conquest. The first and second Messenian wars (743-723 and 685-668, according to the common chronology) doubled its population and territory. Before (500 B. 0. it had conquered from the Arcadians the upper parts of the valley of the Eurotas, and after repeated contests compelled Tegea, the capital of Arcadia, to acknowledge its supremacy (about 560). The long struggle between the Spartans and Argives terminated in favor of the former by decisive victories in 547 and 524. Sparta had now acquired the hegemony of Greece, and Croesus when threatened by the Persians had formed an alliance with it as the most powerful Greek state. It twice invaded Attica, and interfered in the affairs of the growing Athenian democracy. At the outbreak of the second Persian war, it was by unanimous consent intrusted with the chief command. The battles of Thermopylae and Salamis in 480, and of Platsea in 470, were fought respectively under the Spartan generals Leonidas, Eurybiades, and Pausanias. According to Herodotus, the Lacedaemonians were represented at Plataea by 5,000 citizens, 5,000 Pcrioeei, and 35,000 helots.
The allies, excepting Aegina and the Peloponnesian states, were alienated by the arrogance of Pausanias, and therefore in 476 offered the supremacy to Athens. The hegemony thus passed from Sparta to Athens, and the rivalry of these states modified all the history of Greece till the Macedonian era. A destructive earthquake occasioned a revolt of the helots and the third Messenian war (464-455). The Spartans distrusted and rejected an auxiliary force sent by the Athenians under Cimon, which was the cause of hostilities (457-452), the prelude to the long Peloponnesian war (431-404). This war, in which the opposed Doric and Ionic races exhausted their energies, terminated with the conquest of Athens and with the restoration of the hegemony to Sparta. One of its allies was Gyrus the Younger, and in return it aided him in his attempt to dethrone his brother Artaxerxes. The successes of Agesi-laus in Asia Minor in 396 had led him to form the project of overthrowing the Persian empire, when he was recalled by a confederacy of Corinth, Argos, Thebes, and Athens, which Persian gold and Greek jealousy had prompted against Sparta. The victories of Corinth and Coronea were counterbalanced by the naval defeat off Cnidus, and the peace of Antalci-das (387), which left it supreme in Greece, deprived it of its cities in Asia Minor. The Spartans exerted unrivalled authority, notwithstanding the alliance of Thebes and Athens against it in 379, until, in the fatal battle of Leuctra in 371, they were defeated by the Thebans under Epaminondas, and, for the first time in their history, by inferior numbers.
Invasion followed, Sparta narrowly escaped capture, its army was again defeated at Man-tinea in 362, and it was stripped of the dominions which it had acquired from the Messe-nians, Arcadians, and Argives; and from this time it ceased to be a leading state in Greece. Having incurred the enmity of Philip of Mace-don by supporting the Phocians in the sacred war, its losses were confirmed and its power still further reduced by him; but it refused to join the alliance of Athens and Thebes against him before the battle of Chaeronea, next to recognize his leadership in the proposed expedition against Persia, and subsequently to join the Achaean league against the Macedonian and Roman supremacy. It prompted an anti-Macedonian movement, which was defeated by the victory of Antipater at Megalopolis in "331. The kings Agis IV. (244-240) and Cleomenes III. (236-220) attempted to revive the ancient virtue by restoring the institutions of Lycurgus, abolishing the ephoralty, cancelling all debts, redistributing the lands, and enlarging the number of citizens by bringing back the exiles and bestowing the franchise on many of the Perioeci and on others who were deserving of it; but the defeat of Sel-lasia (221) by the Achaeans and the Macedonians under Antigonus Doson followed, and Sparta for the first time fell into the hands of conquerors.
From intestine factions sprang the usurpations of Machanidas and Nabis (210-192), after which it was compelled with the whole of the Peloponnesus to submit to the Achaean league, until in 146 it fell with the rest of Greece under the dominion of Rome. (See Athens, and Greece).