fun sparta fact of today

in case you thought sparta had no flair for the dramatic, keep in mind they were banned from the olympics in 420 for political reasons… but some guy entered his four horse chariot anyway under an assumed name and then made a big show of throwing off his disguise when he won and claimed his prize as a spartan

then the judges disqualified him and also had him whipped which is one exception to the rule that corporal punishment is for slaves only

The signs as ancient cultures

Aries: Spartans: Emphasis on war, justice, equality, humble living, and strength.

Taurus: Byzantines: Emphasis on fortifications, diplomacy, entertainment, tradition, unity, music, and riches. Appreciated art and beauty.

Gemini: Mauryans: Emphasis on diplomacy, strategy, subterfuge, and radical change. Both peaceful and warring. Oscillation between peace and dissonance.

Cancer: Persians: Emphasis on mercy, tolerance, acceptance, generosity, family, gentleness, reform, and improvement of life. Vibrant and underappreciated.

Leo: Egyptians: Emphasis on art, extravagance, preservation, wealth, power, mythology, and majesty. Legendary and romanticized.

Virgo: Babylonians: Emphasis on simplicity but quality, realistic art, the pursuit of mathematics, science, and medicine, literature. Influential and a paradigm. (Birthplace of the zodiac)

Libra: Athenians: Emphasis on intellectual expansion, art, music, science, democracy, and beauty. Philosophical and refined.

Scorpio: Vikings: Emphasis on strength, strict system of justice, ruthlessness, close bonds, and adventure (and consumption of psychedelics). Territorial and possessive, but lively and enchanting.

Sagittarius: Zhou: Emphasis on philosophy, spiritual matters, benevolence, wisdom. Decisive but merciful, dis-unified.

Capricorn: Romans: Emphasis on dignity, solemnity, logic, and tradition. Defensive and powerful. Awe-inspiring and long-lasting. Revered.

Aquarius: Mayans: Emphasis on ingenuity, science, exploration, revolutionary ideas, art, and architecture. Mysterious but prominent.

Pisces: Easter Island: Emphasis on mystery, enigmas, mythology, music, art, creativity, and expression. Isolated and fascinating.

Fire Mountain

This cool image shows the snow-capped peaks of Taygetos Mountains in Sparta, Greece, seemingly engulfed in flames.

What looks like flames are actually clouds- cumulus clouds to be exact. The clouds are being illuminated by the setting Sun. The effect is magnified by the fact that the west facing flank of the Taygetos is already in darkness creating this lovely visual effect.


Photo courtesy of P. Nikolakakos

Little known facts about the Spartans

1) They had a dual kingship: Sparta was ruled by two kings at the same time, one from the family of the Agiads and one from the Eurypontids. Both believed to be directly descended from Heracles. For example, the king who ruled with the famous Leonidas (an Agiad) was Leotychidas.

2)  They had long hair: As soon as they had grown up, Spartans wore their hair long. According to Xenophon in his Lakedaimonion Politeia (Constitution of the Spartans) they did so to appear taller and more intimidating. They also had the custom of grooming their hair before battle.

3)  Religion: The Spartans were said to be exceptionally pious. One of their main gods were Castor and Polydeukes, the twin sons of Zeus. They held them in such great honor that the phrase “by the two gods” (=Castor and Polydeukes) was a typical Spartan saying. And since they spoke a different dialect than the Athenians, they pronounced the names of the gods differently too. For example, Athena was called Atana and Zeus Zan.

4)  Surrender: Despite their reputation that they would never surrender, they did just that at the battle of Sphacteria in 425 BCE. According to Thucydides in his Peloponnesian War, one of the Spartans who surrendered said they did so because they were fought by men with arrows and stones and that it was just by luck that a man would live or die, i.e. they had been worn out psychologically.

5)  Sparta during Roman times: At the time of the Roman era Sparta had long lost its former glory. During the second century CE, when Pausanias visited Sparta, the city had been turned into a kind of memorial of their glorious past. Roman tourists would come to Sparta to witness a ritual where Spartans youths would be whipped at the altar of Artemis Orthia. In Roman times this ritual had turned into a brutal spectacle.

Laconian marble grave relief depicting two enthroned heroes receiving offerings from (far smaller) worshipers.  Artist unknown; ca. 550-530 BCE.  Found at Chrysapha, near Sparta; now in the Altes Museum, Berlin.