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Classics & Ancient History   >   Ancient Sparta

The Spartan Mirage

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Ancient Sparta

In this lecture, Professor Paul Cartledge (University of Cambridge) examines the ancient city-state of Sparta. In the first module, we discuss the evidence for ancient Sparta, noting the tendency for both contemporary and later writers to exaggerate stories about Sparta in what historians now refer to as the "Spartan mirage". After that, we look at the Spartan education system - firstly the "agoge" (or "rearing") of the citizen males, and then the education of women, and their roles as wives and mothers. In the fourth module, we look at probably the most well-known aspects of ancient Spartan life - the concept of warriorhod - before moving on to consider the other peoples without whom the Spartan system could not have existed - the perioeci and the helots. In the last module, we consider Sparta's legacy in the modern world, including the words "Laconic" and "Spartan", but also the presentation of the city-state (and what it represents) in the movies.

The Spartan Mirage

In this module, we discuss the sources and evidence for Ancient Sparta, noting the tendency for contemporary and later writers to exaggerate their accounts of the city and her people - a tendency which modern historians now refer to as the "Spartan mirage".

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cartledge, P. (2018, August 15). Ancient Sparta - The Spartan Mirage [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cartledge, P. "Ancient Sparta – The Spartan Mirage." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Prof. Paul Cartledge

Prof. Paul Cartledge

University of Cambridge