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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Spartan citizen training system (agoge) has long been essential to the Spartan mirage. Current debate centers on the suitability of Hellenistic- and Roman-period material for reconstructing the Classical system. The relevant evidence yields a coherent picture that conforms generally to the traditional view of Spartan training—boys grouped into teams under a state official and girls publicly engaged in athletic and other pursuits—while highlighting notable differences. State euthanasia of disabled infants was not practiced. The system was not totalizing: boys might leave Sparta for several days, and fathers’ participation was vital to its functioning. Rather than training in a full range of athletic events, girls participated in ritual footraces, dances, and choral performances, probably while naked; such public activities made Spartan women notoriously self-confident. The system was closely linked with family life. When that link dissolved in the later fourth century BCE, Sparta’s distinctive way of life faltered.

Keywords: Sparta, citizen training, fathers, family, nudity, boys, girls, festivals, Artemis

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