What an intelligent question you ask. Good to see that the upcoming movie is prompting you to deeper inquiry.
The movie, which I gather from the clips that I have seen, is about the battle of Thermopylae.
Sparta is an example of what a society, a peoples, can be if they devote themselves to one thing. Exclusively (note, however, that while this extremity and single-mindedness made for great warriors, it ultimately led to the downfall of Sparta).
Spartan society is interesting insofar as it was deliberately reshaped (and its growth in areas of art, culture etc. was deliberately atrophied) so that it could devote itself to nothing but martial training and war. Literally.
Only healthy infants in Sparta were kept (sickly ones were left to die). Spartans engaged in no agriculture (their slaves the helots were made to do this for them). Spartan land ownership was redistributed (pissing off the rich very much) so that all spartans had the same amount of land. The purpose of this initiative was to foster equality and unity and to kill the desire to strive after wealth and ostentation so that the spartans might better devote themselves to war. Money (gold and silver coinage) was forbidden and Sparta’s “currency” became spits of iron (the amount of iron that it took to amount to any meaningful value was so huge that there was no point in stealing or hording up wealth anymore - and the iron used for currency was not useful for other purposes b/c it had been deliberately weakened by adding vinegar to it in the process of its manufacture).
The training of children was severe and began from an early age. They trained and fought naked to harden their bodies and were. Spartan youth, were given very little to eat and were expected to steal what they did not have- if they were caught stealing, they were beaten, not for stealing,but for being caught. This taught them stealth (and endurance for beatings!). They ate simply (meat in blood broth) and in common messes to foster a strong sense of unity and community.
This was Spartan training. This was the Spartan way of life.
Historical writings on Sparta will attribute the complete and intentional restructuring of Spartan society, essentially into a war machine, to their lawgiver, Lycurgus. However, whether any one man by the name of “Lycurgus” was, in fact, responsible for the reshaping of Spartan society is questionable.
For an interesting “backgrounder” on how Spartan society was reshaped and the influence of the lawgiver Lycurgus, I recommend “Plutarch on Sparta”. See also, Plutarch’s Lives (Volume I & II) for Plutarch’s account of the lives of some Spartan kings (they had dual kingship) - king Agis and Leonidas come to mind.
As an interesting side note, the historian Herodotus pegs the number of Spartans vs. Persians at anywhere from 300 vs. 1.5 million to 300 vs. 5 million (which seems a bit high - good ole Herodotus - always did have a flair for the dramatic).
Search. Learn. Enjoy.[/quote]
Great stuff. Saw Plutarch at the book store and thought about getting it. I think I’ll go back. I’d really like to read about how the Greeks defeated the numerically superior Persians. Thermopolae was just the beginning, and they put a MAJOR whooping on the 2-4 million Persians with just a few thousand Greeks, led by the 300 Spartans. Ancient warfare is fascinating.