Sunday, October 30, 2011

A communist says: Laziness is a right

 Paul Lafargue :Born in 1842 by Creole parents in Cuba .He  later moved in to France to study medicine.

In 1883 Paul Lafargue who was in a French prison as a political prisoner published at the newspaper l'egalite a series of strange texts which had as a general title "The right to be lazy". Some years later he published a book with the same title causing awkwardness to right wing and leftist politicians in France and all over Europe. In this book Lafargue analyses with a strong argumentation something unprecedented.He claims that a human being doesn't need to work that working is slavery and that it exhausts physically and mentally somebody without being necessary at all.

Someone may presume that Lafargue was a lazy and unworthy person who wanted the others to work for him.However Paul Lafargue was an esteemed personality. He was a doctor and his family were owners of coffee plantations in Cuba.He was a member of the communist party with a very high position in its hierarchy and he was a secretary of the comintern department that focused on the Iberian peninsula.

Lafargue's  "The right to be lazy" has been translated in many languages 

The communist ideology wasn't against working. On the contrary they believed that the working class could change the world. Therefore working was "sacred" for Communism. However Lafargue was encouraging his comrades to quit their jobs at the factories and go enjoy love and laziness.He was justifying his thought by presenting details which showed that a French worker was working more than a prisoner in prison labour or a slave in Antilles but he was earning the same money as they did and had the same quality of life.

Diachronically the leftist parties used to "ostracize" the members who deviated from the ideological correctness of the left.However the communist party had a serious problem on ostracizing Lafargue.
Lafargue had married Laura Marx who was Carl Marx's daughter and moreover best man in their wedding was Friedrich Engels. The question was, who would dare to delete from the communist party the son in law of the founder and the best man of the co founder of the Ideology of communism.? The answer was noone obviously.The communist party tolerated Lafargue's views and was always trying to cover Lafargue's unprecedented opinions by filtering them with the communist ideology. So the time in the communist party was passing like this. Lafargue persuaded the members of the party to stop working the one day, the other day the members were persuaded to return back to work cause the revolution would begin from there.

If a member of the communist party being a champion of laziness was considered awkward then Lafargue's death was even more awkward for the communist party.In 28th November of 1911 Lafargue commited suicide along with his wife .He left a note saying that he didn't want the old age to deprive him from the joys he fought for during his life. This was a really controversial statement that caused even more awkwardness in the communist party. Lafargue was 70 years old when he commited suicide. Despite his own ideology he remained loyal to the communist ideology too. Among his last words in his last note was also : Long live communism.

As we read in

Twenty thousand people attended their funeral, and revolutionaries from around the world paid their respects. Lenin – who befriended the couple while in exile – could not decide which ascetic lesson to draw from their suicide. At one point he approvingly noted that “if one no longer has the strength to work for the party, it is necessary to look at the truth squarely and to know how to die as did the Lafargues.” At another he complained that “a socialist does not belong to himself but to his party. If he can still be useful to the working class, for example to write an article or make an appeal, he had no right to commit suicide.”[ 4 ]
Of course Lenin missed Lafargue’s point, which more resembles the bohemianism of Harold and Maude than the stoic dedication of a Christian martyr. Lafargue was ideologically committed to pleasure, and seems to have felt that only a life filled with fun was a life worth living, and he could not conceive of old age being fun. That he was in good health when he killed himself, and that his wife seemingly followed suit without leaving any note of her own, seems to indicate the poverty of this position. The idea that life must be fun in order to be worthwhile seems to produce a similarly brutal economy of existence as the capitalist injuction that only a productive life is worth living.
Following his death the international communist movement forgot about most of Lafargue’s intellectual contributions. The communist press, particularly in the 1920s, underscored his ‘errors’, and with the rise of Stalinism works like The Right to Be Lazy fell into relative disrepute. It was mainly amongst independent socialists, anarchists and the small “ultra-left” that he retained his stature.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

History beyond crowns and palaces: The potato miracle

History is not only what we have learned in school about kings palaces and glorious battles.Beyond the kings the generals and the artists there is also the mass. These are the majority of the people who are always in the background and never make it into the pages of history.We know a little about what these people were thinking ,where they were living and what they were eating.That history is unknown to us but this is the history of our ancestors since the chances of someone being a descendant of kings or generals is tiny.
Peruvian potatoes. One of these species was brought by Spaniards and expanded in Europe .

In medieval Europe lunch was the main objective in a peasant's life.A peasant was working and struggling in order to find his daily ration of food to ensure the survival of himself and his family.The menu in a medieval house was only bread. The meat was very expensive and vegetables were very rare to find.The frequent bad harvests of wheat caused starvations which resulted the death of thousands of people.The lack of fruits and vegetables in a   peasant's diet was the main cause that many people were suffering from avitaminosis. The worse thing about avitaminosis was that it was the basic cause for various skin diseases which were all named as leprosy.Leprosy was a very common disease during these times, it could hit you like a nowadays common flu.
Leprosy was common among the peasants and it was caused by avitaminosis because of the lack of fruits and vegetables in their diet.

The situation changed a bit in 1530. The Spaniards except from the annihilation of the American tribes did also something good for humanity and more particular for the Europeans. They brought a fruit from Peru which they called potato.The discovery of potato was so valuable for the peasants and farmers that we could compare it with the importance of the discovery of compass for the navigators.

In contrast with the difficult to cultivate wheat  the potato could grow even in not fertile grounds and its cultivation demands are a lot cheaper.Only one potato was enough to provide a lunch for a multi member family. Chamberlain a historian of the renaissance estimates that potato from 1580 to 1700 saved from starvation 50 million people.

Greek potato
Ioannis Kapodistrias: the man who brought potato in Greece

Because of the Ottoman occupation Greece was in the eastern sphere of influence and its acquaintance with the potato was postponed some centuries.Particularly during the 19th century Ioannis Kapodistrias the first governor of Greece was the man that brought  potatoes in Greece.
 At the beginning the Greeks were suspicious with this new "vegetable". There were so many rumours about what it could cause when it was eaten or how bad was its taste that noone accepted to take any potato seeds from the government's storeroom.Kapodistrias then thought of making a trick to encourage the greeks to start producing potatoes.He ordered some soldiers to guard the storeroomwith the potato seeds. The rumour spread among the Greeks that Kapodistrias was putting guards in front of the building with the potato seeds.This made them think that these seeds were valuable since the governor was putting guards specially in the front of that building. One by one many farmers were sneaking in the building to steal the potato seeds with the consent of the guards who had orders to turn a blind eye on what was happening.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The photos from Marathon

Click this link for the videos and about what happened there.

Here are the photos from the attempt for a re enactment of the battle of Marathon.

In the photos you'll also see a manmade hill. That hill is the tomb of the Athenians who died at the battle.
The single white column is a representation of the trophy of the battle(the original one is destroyed)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Colossus of Rhodes

The perception that most people have about how the Colossus looked like. 

Everyone of us has a common image in our mind about the Colossus of Rhodes which was one of the seven wonders of antiquity. When we hear that name we imagine a very tall statue standing with spread legs at the gate of the port and ships passing under it and with one hand raised holding a torch.

This image was consolidated by a lithography of Rotier in 1835.  The contemporary historians though consider this image as fictional and they add that during this period there was no technical knowledge to construct such a large statue in such stance.Historically Colossus was a 33 meters tall statue and it is the second tallest statue in  history only to be surpassed by the statue of liberty in New York which is 46 meters tall.

The version that the archaeologists and engineers accept today is that the colossus had his legs closed and was located somewhere else in the port of Rhodes and not at its gate.The one who built that statue was called Charis of Lindos and it took him 15 years to accomplish it. The money for the construction of this statue came from the selling of the siege machines that Demetrius Poliorcetes had left behind in 307 BC after he failed to storm Rhodes.

the left is a more realistic depiction comparing to the right  one.

This grand statue was constructed between 292 and 280 BC but it stood on its position for only 56 years.Nevertheless the awe that this tall statue caused made it remain in the memories of people for many years.In 222 BC an earthquake struck Rhodes and the knees of the Colossus broke making the  whole statue to collapse.The pieces of the statue remained there for many centuries without being moved. There are written references to a fallen hollow statue which was admired by all visitors.Plinius mentioned that only a few people were able to hug its big finger. He also refers to the technique by which Charis of Lindos build the statue. He says that Charis built the statue just like he would built  a house. He began from the legs by adding pieces of copper while he was also filling the area with dirt to reach the height of the statue to which he was working.When the statue was finished it was all covered by dirt  which was gradually removed.
Demetrius Poliorcetes attempted to conquer Rhodes for  his father Antogonus the one  eyed  who was  at the time the strongest candidate to the vacant throne of the empire of Alexander the great. His defeat lead the Rhodians to built a big statue to thank the god Helios.

In 653 AD during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Constas the Arabs occupied Rhodes. The emir of Damascus in order to repay for the expenses of the campaign ordered the selling of the statue.A Jewish merchant from Edessa(modern Urfa) bought it, cut it into many pieces and he transferred it into Minor Asia to be sold a copper.

Even nowadays the construction of such a tall statue is really difficult.Imagine Charis of Lindos doing it in 292 BC.Colossus of Rhodes represented the god Helios(sun) whose cult was very popular in Rhodes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Steven Runciman's interview about Byzantium

Steven Runciman

In an tv interview that eventually was cancelled by the channel due to technical problems the famous Byzantinologist reveals many aspects of the Byzantine history. The interview is taken by the journalist Chrysa Arapoglou  and Labrini Thoma. The interview took place in Scotland in Runciman's homeland. These extracts are published by the site I couldn't find the original dialogue, thus i had to re translate this.

Sir Steven Runciman(1903-2000) was a historian specialized in Byzantium.He taught Byzantine history in many universities and one of his great successes was to change the point of view that the west had about the Crusades. It's not an exaggeration if we say that he is the person who has undusted the Byzantine history from the library and made the world turn its head towards Byzantium which had as a result the revival of Byzantine studies.

How feels  somebody who studies the Byzantine history for so long time? Is he tired?

R:It's difficult to answer. My interest never wained. When i began studying Byzantine history only a few people in Great Britain knew something or studied  the Byzantines. I want to believe that i created some interest on Byzantine history.That what satisfies me a lot is that there are plenty good representatives of Byzantinology in Britain. I am happy that i chose to focus on Byzantine history.

Was the history of Byzantium attractive for you all these years?

I believe that if any fact in history  is studied in depth then it can become fascinating. I find Byzantium fascinating because it was a unique civilization.In order to study Byzantium you must study its religion its art and the lifestyle which was completely different from nowadays.

Better or worse?

Well, i am not sure if i would like to live with the Byzantines. For instance i wouldn't like to have a beard. However the Byzantine society had a better structured lifestyle. Besides, when you have a very strong religious sentiment your life is  "modified"  and your reality becomes more satisfying comparing to nowadays where people believe in nothing.

Was it just a Theocratic state?

It was a civilization in which religion was playing an important part.

This was the same for all the 11 centuries of Byzantine history?

I think that the people are talking about Byzantium like it remained the same , a civilization unchanged for many centuries.Except from the religion all the other things changed during the Byzantine history.The Byzantines may had many clashes for theological matters but still they all remained faithful. Even though that the fashion ,the economic conditions and the political situation were changing there was an integral part in the Byzantine empire(religion)

You are talking about religion and morality. Many historians consider Byzantium as an age of wars ,assassinations ,political machinations otherwise called as "byzantinisms" and had no relation with morality

Murders happen all the time, there's no period in history that didn't have murders.One day i was making a lecture and among the attendants was also the daughter of the U.S president Johnson. She came to to the class with two bodyguards. She told me that she liked the Byzantine history because it was full of murders.I hold myself not to tell her that the percentage of American presidents who had been assassinated was bigger in relation to the existence of U.S.A comparing to years of existence of Byzantium.People still murder people nothing has changed.

You have written that there is no death penalty in Byzantium

Indeed they were not killing.The basic difference was made during the conversion of Rome to christianity. During these times all the arena spectacles like battles of gladiators and eating of people by wild animals were stopped. The empire became more human-centric. There are only a few incidents of death penalty ordered by emperors but it was about really extreme situation. Most of the emperors were using as an extreme way of punishment the mutilation of a body part.A really gruesome process but still not worse than death.

For a long time there is an open dialogue in Greece. There are some Greek scholars who say that Byzantium produced nothing. Its scholars just produced comments for ancient texts but nothing original. Therefore it's useless to study Byzantinology cause they left nothing worth to remember.

I believe that these scholars are very unjust with their ancestors. No Byzantium was not a society without scholars.You just need to take a look for instance at the progress of Byzantine medicine. Someone may not like the religious scripts so much but the works of some religious leaders like the Cappadokian fathers and Gregorios Palamas were of unique spirituality. There spiritual and intellectual life was very active in Byzantium. Especially towards the late centuries during the dynasty of Paleologos.It's really an irony that during the times that the empire was crumbling the Byzantine culture began to flourish.

Some other scholars state that Byzantium had no arts.

Well then maybe these scholars no nothing about arts.The Byzantine art is one of the most influencing arts in the world.No ancient Greek would be able to build Aghia Sofia. It needed special architectural knowledge.Some other scholars say that the Byzantine art was static. No it was not static but an artistic movement that as the time passes becomes more and more aknowledged .Those Greeks who say that Byzantium left no heritage are just blind.

Therefore those who consider Byzantine art as simple mimicry 

If you can understand something in the best way then you can reproduce it the best.However there was always differences. For instance just looking at a Byzantine icon can give us enough clues to set its date of creation.If all the icons were same then we wouldn't be able to do that.Yes there are particular traditions maintained but Byzantine art shows many differences over the time. Byzantine art fell into a stalemate during the Ottoman conquests because of lack of funding.The art of the Paleologian age was different from the time of Justinian. Of course they had some analogies but it was not mimetic.I believe that many people have stereotyped negatively the Byzantine empire because they haven't studied it in order to learn what it had achieved.

It is alleged that the Byzantine empire was not at all Hellenic. It is by no means a continuation of ancient Greece as it lacked democracy and democratic institutions.

I don't believe that the modern Greeks are more Greeks than the Byzantines.Through the time and the centuries the nations cannot remain genetically clear  however some national characteristics survive through time.The Byzantines were speaking a type of modern Greek. The same language that the modern Greeks speak. The Byzantines were interested in philosophy and even though they were subjects of an emperor he had to give them some sort of freedom and social rights or else there would be civil uprisings.The Byzantine empire was a bureaucratic state but this is not a negative point as its bureaucrats was far more educated than the nowadays bureaucrats.
And what do you mean by saying democracy? Was all of the ancient Greece democratic ? I suggest those who are interested to read the history of classical Greece. They will find a lot of things to criticize. Personally i never understood what is the meaning of democracy. Nowadays in most of the countries democracy means to be governed by the media like the press and the television. It's correct to have the freedom to vote but from the moment that the people cannot make their own political opinion and thus convey the people's power to the media. The media instead of trying to educate the people take the easier way of manipulation.Democracy can only exist if we have a very high educated citizen.In a city like ancient Greece the men were educated but noone considers the position of women and slaves.

Was there a social policy in Byzantium?

The church was mainly helping the people.The state had full social awareness. They had hospitals and care facitilites for the elder people.Let's not forget than one of the high ranking officers was the Orphanotrofos(responsible for the empire's orphanages. The church was very active on social care.It was not just a regime of monks who lived away from civilization. There were also the city monasteries which were running the houses of the elderly people and produced teachers who educated young boys. The girls were educated at home.The girls received better quality of education as they had more private attention. I believe that the score of Byzantium in social care would be very high.

According to Basil of Caesaria the education of the Byzantines should be supported on Homer who was the teacher of principles.

The Byzantines were aware of ancient Greek literature.It is worth to note however that they were not fond of the Attic tragedies but they preferred  all the other poets.There is a story told by Anna Komnene about a very attractive woman who was a friend of an emperor.While she was passing from a street someone told her a verse from Homer's Iliad  about Helen and Troy. She understood the implication therefore it means that she had studied Homer. Every Byzantine boy and girl had studied Homer.Anna Komnene never refers that she has taken the extracts from Homer because all her readers were aware of that.

So there were no uneducated people in Byzantium?

The problems of Byzantine literature were other. Most of the authors tried to imitate ancient writers in style and also in language.This tragedy of Byzantine literature was its dependence on ancient Greek literature. Not because they didn't know enough but because they knew much more that it was needed for their own creative benefit.

Would you like to live in Byzantium?

I don't know if i could fit in that era.If i lived at these times i would be maybe an old monk living the life of an intellectual ,reading books of the monastery's library.Byzantine monasteries had some really marvellous libraries.If i was born an aristocrat i would prefer to live in 18th century England.

Does the situation in the Balkans concern you?

I am interested in the Balkans cause its a place that "accompanies" me all these years and i feel sad about what's going on there.What i am concerned mainly is about the future.I believe that Greece will proceed as Bulagaria too. However i am a bit desperate when i think of the future of Romania and Yugoslavia(the interview was taken in 1994)

Are the Balkans paying for the rich history they had?

In some way , yes. It's a big problem if you have a long history.Because you have much more memories that those you are able carry.Things do not work well in there because of the ancient memory.

Recently there were talks in your country about the possibility of a religious 3rd World war 

I am concerned about some religions. I am concerned about the extremist muslims who are a threat to civilization.Religion is needed. People will feel less lost and more happier with religion.The problem is that we cannot have a global religion and that the religions that have existed never had good relations with each other.Philanthropy is only limited to persons who have the same religion.Religion is not a salvation but i don't know anything else that may give salvation to human.With the increase of the population the quality of education will decrease. There will be never enough instructors. I am a bit pessimistic about that.

What's your opinion about Orthodoxy nowadays?

I have a deep respect on christian doctrines and specially in orthodoxy because it's the only doctrine that aknowledges that religion is a mystery.The Roman Catholics and the Protestants want to explain everything.It's purposeless to believe in a religion if you expect that it will reveal you all the secrets.I believe that orthodoxy maintains this precious sense of mystery.

Do we need mystery?

Yes. We need to know that the universe has a lot of things that we cannot comprehend. We need some spiritual moderation which however doesn't exist in the western church.

What's your opinion about the other doctrines?

The catholic church is and was always also a political institution except than being religious.We need to remember that when the Roman empire fell the Roman lords were lost and only the priests remained who preserved the Roman legacy.Thus they were used by the barbarian kings to implement laws.The western church is very interested in law.In Byzantium and later in the Roman empire the church was on;y interested in the laws of the divine scripts. The churches that broke away from the Catholic church have also inherited this law interest.It's interesting to mention the dialogue between the Anglicans and the Orthodox church during the 17th century.The anglicans couldn't understand what the orthodox believed about the conversion of bread and wine to flesh and blood. The orthodox were saying that it was a mystery which cannot be explained. However the Anglicans wanted an explanation. That's the typical difference of the Western and the eastern churches.

What's your opinion about modern Greeks

It is still alive in this nation the skill on comprehending and understanding situations very quickly.They also have a Byzantine attribute the vivid curiosity.Just like the Byzantines, the Greeks are also aware of the importance of the history of civilization. There are many elements that have not changed. First of all is the language which carries all these elements throughout time.The Byzantine literature suffered because of its relation with the ancient greek literature and language. At least the modern Greeks have the modern Greek language that allowed them to develop the modern Greek literature in a way that the Byzantines couldn't with only exception some epic poems which were written in simplified Greek.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ancient Sparta : A war machine(part 2)

Continuing from the 1rst part


It was not easy for anyone to become a good Spartan citizen. The challenges were beginning since the birth of a child.Only the 100% healthy babies were considered able to receive Spartan education. The "unhealthy" babies were considered useless and were thrown off from cliffs to be eaten by  ravens.The most renowned cliff was  Kaiadas , and even nowadays there is a phrase that parents tell to children in order to scare them. Θα σε ρίξω στον Καιάδα(I will throw you in Kaiadas). The children were staying with their parents until the 7th year of their life. Afterwards they were taken by the state to be educated and trained as soldiers.
King Leonidas the most famous Spartan king

Continuous training
The trainers were deliberately inciting quarrels between the young Spartans to see the ability of each one. They were letting them out in the cold without food, they were forcing them to run on rocky grounds without sandals and to collect reeds  which they would use as their bed.The boys were allowed to steal food but if they  got caught they were punished not because they stole but because they were caught stealing.

The young Spartans were also learning reading and writing and from 18 years old they acquired more political and social rights. However they lived under restriction until their 30s

There was a story about a Spartan who after he failed to be elected at the Apella(senate), he stated that he was happy that there were so many men in Sparta who were better than him.The Spartans were not allowed to travel beyond Laconia or to possess gold. If someone was not able to contribute for the food distribution the state was covering his contribution.
A Spartan woman giving the shield to her husbant.

Posthumous fame
Those who reached 60 years of life were becoming respectable and famous in the Spartan society. They lived the rest of their life in comfort and when they died the state organised special events to honor their memory.The burial ceremonies of the rest of the people were modest. After they were covered by a blanket they were buried discreetly . According to the Spartan law the mourning period lasted only 12 days.Religion and religious rituals were approved by the state.According to a tradition Lycourgos who was worshipped as a god had brought the divine laws of Sparta from the Oracle of Delphi.

Spartan women
The position of woman in the Spartan society and her equality with men was something notable for every foreign visitor.

The education of women had great importance as they had to manage the household for a long time  when the men were outtside of a city on military campaigns. Spartan women had an unacceptable for the rest of the Greek world level of freedom. They were participating like men in athletic events and they also practiced dancing.

The state was taking the responsibility to educate the Spartan children and the men were out of the city for a long time. This gave the women many privileges on running the Spartan society. Women in Sparta were so independent that once when a foreign woman asked king Leonidas' wife "why only Spartan women could control their men" she answered that "it is because only Spartan women give birth to real men"

The choice of a husbant was a personal affair and not of the woman's parents. The wedding age of a Spartan woman was at 20 years old unlike other Greek cities where the wedding age was at 15.THe wedding custom involved firstly the "abduction" of the woman by the man and a period where each was living separately in their own home. The meetings of the lovers were secret ,brief and in total darkness. Thus they were not loosing time with the obligations of living together and they were keeping the spark of their love to last longer and by that they remained having a sole lover.

Sometimes such relationships were lasting so long that some men had children without ever seeing their wife under sunlight. Women who were not living with their husbants had no problems as this habit was accepted in the Spartan society.

Spartan women were able to inherit their parents fortune unlike in any other Greek city were the wealth of the bride's parents was passed to the husbant.
Spartan women were engaged in Athletics just like men.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ancient Sparta : A war machine(part 1)

Ruins of Ancient Sparta

The boundaries of the region of Lakonia in Greece remain the same since the antiquity. The Evrotas valley is protected to the east by the mountain Parnonas and to the west by the legendary mountain range of Taigetos. The valley ends to the south reaching the Lakonian gulf..
Those enormous mountains were like a natural fortress for the fertile valley and protected the Spartans from invaders.In this region 3000 years ago a Greek tribe from the north ;the Dorians invaded the area enslaved its original inhabitants and settled down. The Dorians founded  Sparta or as they were calling it Lakedemona.Ancient Sparta with its glorious past will always remain a part of universal historical memory.The Greek mythology contributes to it  as according to Homer the abduction of Helen the wife of Menelaus the king of Sparta by Paris was the main reason for the begining of the Trojan war.


The organisation of the city state of Sparta is attested to Lycourgos (9th century BC), a person whose deeds balance between history and legend.One tradition says that he travelled all around the world to study and compare the laws of each nation and tribe in order to create a perfect system of laws.Historically speaking we know that during the 9th and 8th century the legislative breakthrough took place in Sparta(either by Lycourgos or somebody else), created a unique political and economic system that would make Sparta distinguished.


Lycourgos divided the arable land in equal pieces and distributed them to the Spartan citizens. Afterwards he introduced a political system in which all the decisions would be taken by a council called Apella. In case the Apella couldn't make decisions(if the majority of votes couldn't be achieved) the administration was taken over by the Senate and the two Kings.
The system of the administration defined the existence of two Kings who were equal in rule but each one had his own duties.The Senate was consisted of 30 members who were mainly the elders of the Spartan aristocracy.The way the  senators were elected had characteristics of primitive traditions. A group of judges was locked inside a building without windows.The citizens outside were either shouting for approval or for disapproval for each candidate. According to the sound the citizens were making the judges had to decide which candidates were more popular in order to elect them.
The assasination of Lycourgos on a mosaic 


One of the most significant innovations of Lycourgos concerned the monetary system and most particularly the coins.Although each coin was made of iron their value was not equal to their weight. The coins were forged to weigh so much that it would be impossible for them to be used for  financial exchanges.They were so big and heavy that someone would need a donkey in order to carry them. By this way Lycourgos limited the greed of the citizens of Sparta because if someone wanted to become rich he would have to pay a whole fortune to store his coins in big storage rooms and for a thief it would be impossible to steal a worth stealing amount of money. In addition this reform rendered trade with other cities impossible.


As it is aforementioned Sparta was not having trade relations with other cities and tried to remain self-sufficient.Food distribution was an institution where every Spartan had to participate. Every month each Spartan citizen was giving to the state a certain amount of food and money. The gathered food would be redistributed  equally .There was also a tradition/institution where all Spartans were eating together in order to strengthen the social bonds. Food distribution was also a way for controlling obesity. Obesity was considered unacceptable in Ancient Sparta.


The sexual moralility of the ancient Spartans would be considered inappropriate even nowadays.According to the ancient historians the Spartans had no inhibitions. For instance young women could wander naked with young men around without problem . Marriage was compulsory in ancient Sparta. The state was rewarding big families by granting them special priviledges. Celibacy was punished . The relationships between two persons of big age difference was acceptable and adultery wasn't punishable.

Men and women in ancient Sparta were working out  naked in the same place.


The Spartan army was considered invincible in the ancient world.All the Greek cities were sending lavish gifts in order to create an alliance with the Spartans.In exchange the best gift the Spartans could send to their allies was a Spartan general.The military contribution of the Spartans during the Persian wars was crucial. The most important events where Spartans were involved was the famous battle of Thermopylae with the sacrifice of Leonidas and 300 Spartan hoplites and the final battle of Plateae where the Greek alliance lead by Spartan generals drove away the Persians from Greece.


The Spartans disliked lengthy conversations and prefered to express  only the essence of what they wanted to tell in few words. Even nowadays there is a Greek phrase Το λακωνίζειν εστί φιλοσοφείν(talking like Spartans talk is philosophical). Being laconic is  a synonym to short talking , brief and correct speech.


The Spartan lords were choosing the most intelligent and valiant young men between 18-20 y.o .The army was giving them some food  and was sending them out in the wild . There they were divided and lived as groups with the mission to set traps or prepare ambushes to kill helots(Spartan slaves). This was like a training for the real battlefield conditions . Besides it was also a way of warning the slaves(who were a two to one majority in Sparta) not to lead any uprising. The helots were the descendants of the indigenous people of Laconia who were enslaved when the Dorians invaded.The choice of helots to be killed was not random. They were usually the strongest and smartest. By this way the Spartans reduced the chances of  the emergence of a slave leader.

Although everyone was equal according to the Spartan  law, the right to citizenship was a priviledge of a minority. Except the Spartan citizens, there were the mothakes who were children of helots parents who have received Spartan training the helots and the neodamodeis who were liberated slaves.The only job of a Spartan citizen was blood and war, therefore they relied upon the helots for everything else.


The structure of the Spartan society was supported on education. Lycourgos' idea was that when each citizen was becoming better then the state as a whole was becoming better. According to Lycourgos the best citizen was a strong and modest citizen. He was asked how Sparta would be forever free from its enemies? He answered that it would achieve that when its citizens although they are poor, they will not lust bigger wealth than their fellow Spartans.

"Mental health and physical health" was the motto of the ancient Spartans and the ancient Greek world

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