The Agoge

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Information about The Agoge

Published on March 4, 2009

Author: tomgriffith


The Agoge : The Agoge Sparta’s Military Education System What was the Agoge? : What was the Agoge? The Ancient Greek word agoge means ‘education’ or ‘schooling’. The agoge was a school system that created Spartan warriors. Who took part? : Who took part? The agoge was only open to one class of people: the homoioi (Spartiate men) Helots, perioeci, Inferiors and women were not allowed to take part Why was it unique? : Why was it unique? Sparta was the only Greek state which provided a military education to its citizens It was one of the first examples of the State taking responsibility for the education of its people It created the strongest military state of its time It allowed Spartans to give up farming and devote themselves to war. How long did it last? : How long did it last? The agoge officially educated males from age 7 until 24. However, Spartans were trained from birth to be loyal, brave and strong They served as full-time soldiers from age 24 to 30 So, the agoge could be said to last for 30 years of a man’s life Stages : Stages Stage 1 – Birth to 6 years RAISED BY HELOTS Stage 2 – Aged 7-12 UNDER PAIDONOMOS Stage 3 – Aged 12-18 CADETS Stage 4 – Aged 18-20 EIRENS Stage 5 – Aged 20-24 PART-TIME SOLDIERS Stage 6 – Aged 24-30 SOLDIERS Stage 7 – Aged 30+ FULL CITIZENS Stage 1: 0-7 : Stage 1: 0-7 At ten days old, a Spartan baby was checked for weakness/deformity by a government official Those that failed were left to die on slopes of Mt Taygetus Children were raised by helot women, not by their mothers Not allowed to cry or be afraid of dark; ate simple food Stage 2: 7-12 : Stage 2: 7-12 Left home to live in barracks under care of the state Divided into companies (agelai) under the absolute authority of a paidonomos Learned to fend for themselves, obedience, military skills, reading, writing From age 10 learned dancing, music and athletics Paidonomos or eirens could whip them for bad behaviour Stage 3: 12-18 : Stage 3: 12-18 Education became more disciplined and harsh: intensive cadet training Given one garment and had to sleep on bed of reeds Had to train barefoot and exercise naked Given little food to encourage them to steal without being caught Stage 4: 18-20 : Stage 4: 18-20 At 18, you could become an eiren (supervisor of the younger boys) They trained boys to make sensible decisions; they could punish them by biting them on the thumb The older men watched the eirens to make sure their punishments were not too gentle or harsh Could serve in army but not in the frontline Stage 5: 20-24 : Stage 5: 20-24 Men could now marry, but had to live in their barracks full-time Men could fight but were not yet fully-qualified soldiers Training was very tough and physical Total loyalty to Sparta was expected Stage 6: 24-30 : Stage 6: 24-30 Men were now full-time soldiers Fought in front line At the peak of their fighting ability Stage 7: 30+ : Stage 7: 30+ Men remained soldiers but were now full citizens Able to set up a household but still ate in syssitia Could vote in Ekklesia and become ephors Could let hair grow as sign of physical strength Required to fight until age of 60 Review Questions : Review Questions How many years did the agoge last? Between what ages could a Spartan be called into battle? Describe these terms: agoge, paidonomos, agelai, eiren, syssitia 4. What were the main skills and qualities taught in the agoge? 5. Extended response: Explain how the agoge created some of the best warriors of the ancient world.

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