The Spartans

When a boy was born, he was washed with wine in the belief that this would make him strong.

Every infant was then examined by members of the Gerousia (a council of leading elder Spartans) from the child’s tribe to see whether he was fit and healthy enough to be allowed to live.

In the event that the baby did not pass the test, he was placed at the base of Mount Taygetus for several days for a test that ended with death by exposure, or survival.

At the age of seven, the male child was enrolled in the agoge under the authority of the paidonómos (παιδονόμος), or “boy-herder”, a magistrate charged with supervising education.

This began the first of the three stages of the agoge: the paídes (about ages 7–17), the paidískoi (ages 17–19), and the hēbōntes (ages 20–29).

Greek: ἀγωγή, was the rigorous education and training program mandated for all male Spartan citizens, except for the firstborn son in the ruling houses, Eurypontid and Agiad.

The training involved cultivating loyalty to the Spartan group, military training (e.g., pain tolerance), hunting, dancing, singing, and social (communicating) preparation.

By Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg

Three Spartan boys practising archery

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