The training of spartan soldiers to make them the ‘walls of Sparta’. Spartas walls were eliminated by Lycurgus, stating to those who proposed to build a wall around Sparta, Lycurgus said: “A wall of men, instead of bricks, is best.”
The agoge began at age 7 and the spartan men did not become full citizens until age 30.
For many years they were not allowed shoes, only a simple red cloak. They were often under fed to promote the need to steal food. If they were caught stealing food there was brutal punishment. They were only allowed to sleep on the ground or on reeds that they plucked from the surrounding waters.
The soldiers became used to cold, hunger, pain, and were very physically fit. They were also taught to say much with only a few words further enhancing the “spartan” lifestyle.
For example, an Athenian joked that sword-swallowers used Spartan swords because they were so short, and a Spartan replied: “We find them long enough to reach the hearts of our enemies.”
Like their short, sharp swords, their short, sharp sayings get to the point and arrest the attention of the hearer. Here are some examples from Lycurgus himself:
A man argued that Sparta should set up a democracy, and to this, Lycurgus replied: “Begin with your own family.”
Another asked why the sacrifices to the gods were not bigger, and Lycurgus answered: “So that we may always have something to offer them.”
When Lycurgus was asked how the Spartans could prevent an invasion by enemies, he said: “By continuing to be poor, and not trying to appear better off than each other.”
50 floor press
1 stair ascent