By Razib Khan | September 11, 2006 2:03 am

Apropos of my comment about sex & civilization, a reader brought up Sparta, and over @ 2 Blowhards there’s a nice post, Case Studies in State Formation – Sparta:

There was an extreme egalitarianism on the surface in Sparta, where all men ate in messes and dressed identically until getting married in middle age. Indeed, the Spartans called themselves the homoioi, those who are alike. While egalitarianism was a very strong trend throughout the Greek world during the archaic and classical eras, in Sparta the appearance of egalitarianism was deceptive, at least in a politically. Spartan egalitarianism was the result of military necessity rather than an expression of the economic or social equality. The Spartan aristocracy never surrendered political control of Spartan politics.

  • John Wilkins

    This egalitarianism was only for the warrior class (agoge). Also note that the Spartans had a slave or serf class of farmers who had no rights, the helots, and a class of ordinary non-military civilians, the periokoi. Citizenship could be lost of you were a periokon, or an unsuccessful agagon. The helots were conquered Hellenic tribes who weren’t from Sparta originally, and could never have citizenship.

  • David B

    Didn’t Bettany Hughes do a TV series on the Spartans? You might bear this in mind (nudge nudge, wink wink).


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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