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Sparta

What reputation did the city-state of Sparta have among other Greeks?

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July 21, 2009 2:00AM

Sparta had the only full-time army in ancient Greece These soldiers were bred to be warriors of iron discipline and loyalty. Their training started at age 7 and they remained soldiers till 60 years of age. When these soldiers came together in the Greek phalanx (which they may have invented) they were unstoppable. Spartans were taught never to retreat, never to surrender. Suprisingly, due to having the greatest army in the world, they never fought any civil wars. The Romans did, the British did, the Mongols did. The Spartan soldiers loyalty was to the state. From Birth to Death. They cared little for other Greeks and only wanted to be left alone. When Persia invaded Greece the second time in 480 B.C., Greece became terrified. They had always fought themselves and had never seen armies of more than a few thousand and some maybe 10,000. The Athenians had fought with 9,000 vs 30,000 against Persia just ten years before, but the Persian force this time totaled over 300,000 fighting men from all over Asia. City-States all over Greece began talking of surrender and some actually did. The Spartans could really care less at first. Their defensive league could field 80,000 men. By far, the largest in Greece. Though half the number were of low quality, the 10,000 at the top were the finest soldiers in the world. The Spartans themselves. After the rest of Greece threatened to go over to the Persians if the Spartans did not help, the Spartans agreed to send 300 warriors to Thermopylae to join 7,000 allied soldiers to block the pass against the Persians. These 300 men, fighting from the front held back the Persians for 3 days killing between 20,000 and 40,000 Persians. When the allied forces were ordered to retreat by the Spartan king, Leonidas, what was left of the 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians formed a rear guard while the rest retreated. After the great naval victory at Salamis a few months later, lead by the Athenian navy, the main Persian army of 120,000 men stayed to complete the conquest of Greece while the rest sailed home for lack of supplies. At this time the full Spartan Army of 10,000 peers, 20,000 allied troops and 40,000 armed slaves met the Persian army on the Plains of Plataea. Many versions of the battle are around but the jist is that the invincibility of the Spartan Phalanx destroyed the Persian host and few returned home. Because of these victories, the Spartans became the heroes and liberators of Greece. The Spartan reputation was that of the Greatest Army in the known world. The soldiers were fiercely loyal and war was all they knew.