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Bonnie Hyden
Ms. Schrader, I'm only a 'country bumpkin' but I have a healthy thirst for knowledge, in general; ancient cultures, in particular. Sparta has always interested me so I recently started looking into it. (ok.I watched the movie "300" and it woke up my curiosity.) From your site I have ascertained that much of what is in the movie is either fictionalized, mis-represented or merely "literary license". My humble opinion of your site is that I am so happy to find an "intellectual" with some good, ol'fashioned common sense! Your pages are informative, entertaining, and easy to understand. I have already bookmarked the site and intend on using it as a home schooling tool. Again.thank you, m'am!
24 July 2011 - Texas

Webmaster comments   Bonnie,

Thank you! I'm glad you found the site informative; that's what it's meant to be. Movie like "300," inaccurate as they are, are good if they encourage people to look for more information. I hope you'll follow my blog as well as that gets updated more regularly. Last but not least, you might enjoy my novels on Ancient Sparta, all of which can be ordered on Sparta was indeed a fascinating society, but much more complex and fluid than usually portrayed. I wish you lots of fun in learning more! Helena

Stephen Hunt | stephen~DOT~hunt~DOT~viva~DOT~la~DOT~vida~AT~gmail~DOT~com
Hello, I need some help as I am very confused. I am originally from Burma, but I am confused as being Greek all the time, even from true Greeks! I know that Alexander the Great had contact with Burma and later the Greco-Bactrians and Dayuan Greeks as well. In fact many Burmese people have Greek blood, but I would like to know if Sparta ever had contact with Burma.
1 July 2011 - Evansville, Indiana, USA

Webmaster comments   Stephen,
I'm confused too. I cannot imagine that there was any contact between Burma and Greece in ancient times.

angela pooke | p~DOT~pooke~AT~ntlworld~DOT~com
Thank you Helena, this is a fantastic web site. I've read it but will read it again as there is a lot of information in there. I am just a 'lay' person, not so interletual as you but so interested just the same.
Please answer me this if you can as I'm trying to make the distinction between slaves in Sparta and Athens;
Were there Perioikoi slaves in Athens??
many thanks, angela x
15 March 2011 - england

Webmaster comments   The Perioikoi were not slaves. They were free men with limited franchise. The equivalent in Athens were called Metics. They too were free men, who had moved to Athens for whatever reason. They had to have sponsors, paid extra taxes, and did not enjoy the privileges of Athenian citizens, could not vote or sit on juries etc.

The Perioikoi were probably the descendents of the population that was living in the Peloponnese when the Dorians arrived. The Perioikoi did not go to the Spartan public school or have a voice in the Spartan Assembly, but nor did they have to serve in the Spartan army for their entire life. Furthermore, they were not prohibited from engaging in trades and accumulating wealth. The Perioikoi therefore fulfilled the jobs and functions that the Spartans themselves could not. They engaged in trade and manufacturing, they were shipbuilders, smiths, potters, shoemakers, dye-makers etc. In short, they were the middle class, between the elite Spartiates and the peasant/serf-like helots.

Athens, in contrast, was dependent on chattel slaves -- people who were bought and sold. Anyone captured by pirates, for example, could be sold as a slave. The defeated in Athens' wars were enslaved and sold in the public market. Metics who failed to pay their taxes or -- until the late 6th century -- even citizens who fell too deeply into debt could be sold as slaves.

The Athenian economy depended upon slave lavor in at least two ways, almost all citizens owned slaves to supplement their own labor, and Athens was a major slave trading city. Many of the wealthy citizens earned their fortunes from the slave trade.

I hope this helps.


Melia Suez | melia~AT~bresnan~DOT~net
I very much enjoyed your site. I do have a question though. You state that Spartans only profession was as a soldier for the state. Later you talk about Spartan bronzes and jar paintings. Who made these? The men that were in the reserves (those over 30)? What crafts did the women do other than their weaving?
11 January 2011 - Colorado

Webmaster comments   Melia,

Thank you for your question. I believe I addressed this issue in the essay on the "Economy" but to summarize: Lacedaemonian society was divided into three fundamental classes. The Spartans (or Spartiates), the perioikoi and helots. The helots were peasants or state serfs, who worked the land and were only "semi-free." The perioikoi were non-Spartan free men (and their families), who lived in smaller cities in Lacedeamon but not in Sparta itself. They could pursue any profession they wished and had a monopoly on trade and manufacturing because the Spartans themselves were prohibited from pursuing these profession.

The women were the managers of the Spartan estates, and as such wielded considerable power, but they too disdained work with their hands and so themselves as above such manuel labor.

I hope this answers your questions, but I suggest you look again at my website which provides more detailed information.

Helena P. Schrader

Clay Foster | cjfoster9673~AT~comcast~DOT~net
When will the other books on Leonidas be published?
1 December 2010 - Bow, NH

Webmaster comments   Thank you for your interest. I aim to publish Book II in August/September 2011, and Book III a year later. Meanwhile, you might enjoy "The Olympic Charioteer" or "Are They Singing in Sparta?" both of which are available from any online retailer.

Carolyn Gnarts | junkmailtrain~AT~rocketmail~DOT~com
What could Spartan women not do? Could they act in plays? I really appreciate any information
29 November 2010

Webmaster comments   Carolyn,
Sparta was renowned for its dance and music, particularly its choruses. There were both men and women's choruses. Girls certainly danced, possibly women also. However, Sparta was not know for its plays. I am not aware of any drama being produced in Sparta, therefore the issue of women taking the stage would not have come up. Far more important, women controlled the estates and so the household economy of their husbands and sons. Thus although they could not be elected to public office, they had significant power and enjoyed corresponding respect. Some women apparently also accompanied their husbands to the Assembly, and their husbands consulted them before voting.

I hope this answers your question.


Niko | vojkan087~AT~gmail~DOT~com
Helena, To add up to my previous praise.
Although I agree with you in almost 99% of the facts stated.Quoting Plutarch in matters of philosophy vs physical or anywhere else where he says stuff for the first time compared to earlier historians is bad, as he did not even come close to seeing any ,especially ‘real’ Sparta (late archaic to early classical).Anything said by Plutarch that can not be confirmed either by earlier historians,or acheology can not be taken as a reliable fact.

Secondly, 'painted brightly' which you say about ancient parthenon is overstatement,because no natural colors exposed to weather conditions can remain 'bright'.That is always the problem with reconstructions,all oversee one important fact.natural colors are not modern.they are exposed.And look pale and washed down very quick,even if their names are 'light blue' 'orange' 'red'.
26 November 2010 - Greece mostly

Webmaster comments   Niko,
Thank you for the important hint about ancient colours. It certainly would have made an impact on the overall image. Nevertheless, I maintain that there was a significant difference between Spartan austerity and the complex, multi-toned painting of other Greek city-states. I still believe we would prefer Spartan simplicity - which is closer to the way we experience ancient Greek art today - to the polychrome works of other ancient cities.

Regards Plutarch, you are right, but his quote is simply an excellent summary of evidence provided by earlier observers. W. Lindsay Wheeler in his article "Doric Crete and Sparta, the home of Greek Philosophy," (Sparta Journal, Vol. 3, Issue 2) provides excellent documentation of the thesis. I recommend the article highly.

Niko | vojkan087~AT~gmail~DOT~com
Dear Helena,
I am amazed by this site.You should be recieving the honorary citizenship of modern Sparta.This is unfortunately rare place of truth in the sea of myths and stereotypes that started with Plutarch, and continued with Cartledge (whom I have utmost respect but many things to critique as well).those ‘historians’ who have 0 knowledge I will not even mention.

The only thing so far,however,I can not completely agree with is.the extent of urbanism of ancient Sparta.Modern notion of Sparta having no building is wrong, as is the picture from your site which is a little exagerated.Sparta was never a single town nor a city,but a union of 4+1 villages(from few hundred to few thousand meters away),and urbanism in higher extent than Assembly ‘hall’,temples of Athina Chalkioikos,Artemis Orthia etc .aka semi random moderate urbanism was not even possible.I object people who see Spartans as illiterate savages(militant and civilized were not as different as today,on the contrary.) but let’s not get too carried away by praise.They were Dorians.They were not Athens or Delphi,nor did they want to be.

What is important for all of us is to grasp the notion of time, and that Plutarch lived centuries after Sparta’s golden age(cca 650-465BC peak of it being 545-470BC),and that he should NEVER be taken too seriously(as we proved him and his companions from early Roman era wrong in many ways), and that even Peloponnesian wars did not see the real Sparta we all admire(earthquake of 465 BC,which I am convinced on many levels was the turning point and ending point of a system we all admire.can proove it also).We should stick to Herodotus and archeology.

I think you should also mention the recent excavations of Greek archeologists that proved the infanticide myth finally WRONG,but throwing down of prisoners and condemned men unexpectedly right.

Thank you for your beautiful work,thank you very much.One of the worst myths you completely destroyed and I am looking forward to seeing your work and reading your books.
25 November 2010 - Greece mostly

Webmaster comments   Niko,

Thank you!

You are completely right and I did not mean to imply that Sparta was ever urban in the same way that Athens or Corinth was, however, on the basis of Pausanias' description I cannot see Sparta as a collection of villages any more than modern Paris or Berlin is. They too were originally separate villages/towns that grew into a single urban entity over time. I believe at Sparta's height it was urban - but still very different from Athens. I believe it had it's own Doric character. Compare Washington to New York - both cities but very different in character.

Thank you too for reminding me about the evidence against infanticide! Very important point!

We have a long, difficult struggle to correct so many slanderous inaccuracies and innocent misconceptions. Thank you for your help!

Carroll Schroeder | ckschroed~AT~comcast~DOT~net
Thanks Hellena for responding to my question so quikly about Pausanias. I will check out the book you recomended too, am alway's looking for new books on Spartan history. I have some other scenario's for you to coment on later on. Thanks again for a great website. CW
4 November 2010 - Portland, Oregon

Webmaster comments   Carroll, I'll look forward to hearing from you. Hope you are following my blog as well. ( Don't hesitate to comment on my posts. I enjoy the discussion! Helena

Carroll Schroeder | ckschroed~AT~comcast~DOT~net
I would like your input on if the Regent Pausanias was really a trator to his country or did the Athenians who were jelouse of his victory trick the Ephors into thinking he was a trator. I think your website is a good thing. Thanks for all your hard work. Mr. Carroll
22 October 2010 - Portland, Oregon

Webmaster comments   Carroll,
Great question! I'd never thought of it, but it sounds very plausible to me. Altogether, historians have accepted far too much Athenian propaganda as "truth" when studying Sparta. The Spartans, being men of few words have left the historical field in the hands of their enemies. Just one small example, Nigel Kennel in his newest book, "Spartans: A New History" (Chicester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) makes the salient point that Spartans buried their dead where they fell and so the most famous quote of all attributed to all Spartan mothers "With your shield or upon it," cannot have come from a Spartan at all! It is pure, Athenian propaganda. How much more of what we think we know about Sparta is propaganda? And to what extent, as you rightly ask, did the Athenians manipulate opinion even in their own time? It would certainly be worth more study. Thanks for your comment!

F. Raetzke | Kingpin35~AT~gmail~DOT~com
viele Gruesse aus Berlin (Germany) von Familie Raetzke.
Nutzen diesen Weg, um evtl. wieder per Breif in Kontakt zu kommen.
Wuerden uns ueber Post von Familie Schrader freuen.
19 October 2010 - Berlin / Germany

Webmaster comments   Hallo lasst uns Eure Email zukommen.
Alles Gute Herbert

Justin Francis | jrfrancis010~AT~live~DOT~com
This was a wonderful source of information and I am wondering are there more like it out there to research.
6 September 2010 - Pennsyvania

Joe P | jpavone6~AT~comcast~DOT~net
Thanks for a wonderful resource-great job--I am also interested in the Etruscans-was there much interaction between the Spartans and the Etruscans-do we have any sources for this ?
24 August 2010 - New Jersey-USA

Webmaster comments   Joe,
Thank you. I can well understand your interest in the Etruscans; I think they deserve much more attention/research etc. As to any particular interaction with the Spartans, I have not come across any source that refers to this - which doesn't mean there was none. We know Sparta maintained extensive diplomatic ties and traded "worldwide" in the 6th Century BC, so it is reasonable to assume, since Sparta had a colony in what is now Southern Italy at Taranta, that there was at least some superficial contact. But more I cannot say. If you find out anything, I'd be interested in hearing. Helena

Corinne | aromidara~AT~yahoo~DOT~fr
Some truth, at last.
You hear a bit too much about Sparta fostering male homosexuals, which simply cannot be true. Sparta was accused of widespread homosexuality by its enemies, mainly Athens.
Despite the nowadays extant opinion, homosexuality was frowned upon everywhere in Greece, so the enemy always was "the faggot" (sorry about the word).
In Athens and Thebes, pederasty (in fact, mere child abuse) was unfortunately the rule, but boys, somewhere around age 16, were supposed to switch to women, marry and never go back to men. Only, sadly, they could abuse, in turn, young boys who were under their supervision and had no way of escaping being abused.
The best book so far about this issue is "Greek Homosexuality" by K.J. Dover.
Of course, as human nature dictates, these abused Greek boys turned to misoginy - a common symptom of male child sexual abuse. That explains the dreadful status of Athenian women.
The position of women in Sparta totally contradicts any homosexuality or boy sexual abuse in Sparta. Any psychologist will tell you it simply does not hold water.

An extremely good analysis of boys sexual abuse in ancient Greece and its repercussions, for those who might like to understand more on the issue - I can't copy/paste the url here, but it's easy to find - is "Socrates and I", by Enid Bloch.
9 May 2010 - France

Webmaster comments   Corinne,
Thank you so much for this contribution, above all the tip about K.J. Dover's book and Enid Block's website. Helena P. Schrader

I found your pages interesting, and gave a lot of information for a website on this subject, but i think you need more quotes or sources.
3 May 2010

Webmaster comments   Stew,
Thank you for your suggestion. I am an academic and I find myself wanting to put in footnotes and explain why I chose one interpretation over another. My friends and editor and webmaster are always stopping me. and other readers stop me! This site was not conceived as a site for fellow academics, but as an entry point for people with very superficial knowledge of the topic. Hopefully, people who are intrigued by what I say will start to do their own research. So, while I will resist the temptation to footnote each assertion, I think you are right that I need to add more sources. I will try to ensure this happens on the next update. Again, thank you for the good suggestion. Helena

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