Spartans; fitness, build vs. todays soldier?

With recent TV programmes on TV of late describing the pretty astonishing regime of the Spartan male, would anyone have any clue as to how their fitrness would measure against the modern Infantry soldier, and what sort of build would these blokes have had?



300 has a good view on what the spartan man was like but weather its true or not your guess is as good as mine


I'd guess smaller and stockier .No labour saving gadgets in those days
Or any surplus calories so not much body fat. Think in a post kebab punch up spartans would turn most squaddies unless they were into serious martial arts into bloody pulp ,but, that would prove true of a lot of our ancestors we have grown soft .


Just look on the pottery with the paintings of the six-pack bodies, - The Greek ideal, which was something they took seiously in those days.
Seriously hard training but constant, so physically they were hard lads, probably shorter than most people today.

Reading and Writing took second place so they were probably an army of Para types.

Here are a couple of things I found: Can't see our chavs today letting a fox chew their stomach without whimpering.


The goal of education in Sparta, an authoritarian, military city-state, was to produce soldier-citizens.

In ancient Sparta, the purpose of education was to produce a well-drilled, well-disciplined marching army. Spartans believed in a life of discipline, self-denial, and simplicity. They were very loyal to the state of Sparta.

Every Spartan, male or female, was required to have a perfect body.

On the other hand, the goal of education in Athens, a democratic city-state, was to produce citizens trained in the arts of both peace and war.

When babies were born in ancient Sparta, Spartan soldiers would come by the house and check the baby. If the baby did not appear healthy and strong, the infant was taken away, and left to die on a hillside, or taken away to be trained as a slave (a helot). Babies who passed this examination were assigned membership in a brotherhood or sisterhood, usually the same one to which their father or mother belonged.



The boys of Sparta were obliged to leave home at the age of 7 to join sternly disciplined groups under the supervision of a hierarchy of officers. From age 7 to 18, they underwent an increasingly severe course of training.

Spartan boys were sent to military school at age 6 or 7. They lived, trained and slept in their the barracks of their brotherhood. At school, they were taught survival skills and other skills necessary to be a great soldier. School courses were very hard and often painful. Although students were taught to read and write, those skills were not very important to the ancient Spartans.

Only warfare mattered. The boys were not fed well, and were told that it was fine to steal food as long as they did not get caught stealing. If they were caught, they were beaten.

They boys marched without shoes to make them strong. It was a brutal training period.

Legend has it that a young Sparta boy once stole a live fox, planning to kill it and eat it. He noticed some Spartan soldiers approaching, and hid the fox beneath his shirt. When confronted, to avoid the punishment he would receive if caught stealing, he allowed the fox to chew into his stomach rather than confess he had stolen a fox, and did not allow his face or body to express his pain.

They walked barefoot, slept on hard beds, and worked at gymnastics and other physical activities such as running, jumping, javelin and discus throwing, swimming, and hunting.

They were subjected to strict discipline and harsh physical punishment; indeed, they were taught to take pride in the amount of pain they could endure.

At 18, Spartan boys became military cadets and learned the arts of war. At 20, they joined the state militia--a standing reserve force available for duty in time of emergency--in which they served until they were 60 years old.

The typical Spartan may or may not have been able to read. But reading, writing, literature, and the arts were considered unsuitable for the soldier-citizen and were therefore not part of his education. Music and dancing were a part of that education, but only because they served military ends.

Unlike the other Greek city-states, Sparta provided training for girls that went beyond the domestic arts. The girls were not forced to leave home, but otherwise their training was similar to that of the boys. They too learned to run, jump, throw the javelin and discus, and wrestle mightiest strangle a bull.

Somewhere between the age of 18-20, Spartan males had to pass a difficult test of fitness, military ability, and leadership skills.

Any Spartan male who did not pass these examinations became a perioikos. (The perioikos, or the middle class, were allowed to own property, have business dealings, but had no political rights and were not citizens.)

If they passed, they became a full citizen and a Spartan soldier. Spartan citizens were not allowed to touch money. That was the job of the middle class. Spartan soldiers spent most of their lives with their fellow soldiers.

They ate, slept, and continued to train in their brotherhood barracks. Even if they were married, they did not live with their wives and families. They lived in the barracks. Military service did not end until a Spartan male reached the age of 60. At age 60, a Spartan soldier could retire and live in their home with their family.



In Sparta, girls also went to school at age 6 or 7. They lived, slept and trained in their sisterhood's barracks. No one knows if their school was as cruel or as rugged as the boys school, but the girls were taught wrestling, gymnastics and combat skills.

Some historians believe the two schools were very similar, and that an attempt was made to train the girls as thoroughly as they trained the boys. In any case, the Spartans believed that strong young women would produce strong babies.

At age 18, if a Sparta girl passed her skills and fitness test, she would be assigned a husband and allowed to return home. If she failed, she would lose her rights as a citizen, and became a perioikos, a member of the middle class.

In most of the other Greek city-states, women were required to stay inside their homes most of their lives. In Sparta, citizen women were free to move around, and enjoyed a great deal of freedom, as their husbands did not live at home.

No marvelous works of art or architecture came out of Sparta, but Spartan military force was regarded as terrifying. Thus, the Spartans achieved their goal.

In ancient Sparta military training was the rule, not the exception. Sparta was an independent---some say the most independent-- city state in ancient Greece. The citizens of Sparta were great believers in their state. Ancient Spartans placed the state above themselves and the state demanded soldiers to protect it. Those too weak to be soldiers were too week to be Spartans. When a young boy was born to Spartan parents the father would take the child to the council of elders. These old calloused and scarred veterans would look at the naked infant carefully for any birth defects or the slightest sign of weakness or sickness. If they judged the crying baby to be unworthy of carrying a Spartan shield it would be taken immediately to a nearby cliff off Mt. Taygetos and thrown over the edge. If it passed this first of many life tests then the young Spartan boy would be allowed to return to his parent’s home where he lived for six years. Then the agoge or military training would start

When the young Spartan boy reached seven he was deemed too old to be coddled by his parents and was taken from them to live a military life for the rest of his existence. He was placed in a communal barracks with others his age, supervised by an older boy referred to as a Eirena who had respectively been the strongest in his class (and was himself undergoing something like officer training). For the next five years these Spartan boys were conditioned physically and mentally. They were educated- but only enough to count soldiers in a formation, read war sagas and sing and recite war poetry. . They were given rigorous strength and endurance training and physical conditioning through endless field and track events. They were taught wrestling and the art of ancient martial combat to make them lethal. They were fed -but it was a weak broth and in quantities only enough to exist. It was expected that the young starving boys would steal or otherwise find enough food to keep them strong. For this they would only be punished if caught and the lesson learned from this was how to look for food when none was available, a skill that would be needed in the future when occupying a village that had been sacked and abandoned. Discipline was the word to live by, with terrific punishments meted out if caught performing the most minor infraction.

At age twelve the lean and hungry boy was taken from the barracks and made to eat, live and sleep in one garment with no shoes under the open sky for one year, exposed to the beasts and the weather. This yearlong exercise taught survival and fieldcraft skills that he would need when deployed fighting abroad. From age thirteen until he reached what was considered manhood at twenty the Spartan child played very very serious war games. These games often left the contestants dead or injured and would include armed invasions on Messenian agricultural slaves called helots and other non Spartans living nearby. These war games taught small unit tactics, raids, reconnaissance and surveillance, and the art of the ambush. When age twenty was reached the Spartan boy was seen as a solder and had thirteen years of the hardest military training yet devised under his belt. For the next ten years he would still live in barracks as part of the standing army and only at age thirty were they allowed to marry and as a full fledged citizen, reproduce and achieve public office. It was only then that they were granted the privilege to live in their own house and not in barracks. This superbly trained Spartan soldier would still remain in the army no matter where he lived until age sixty when they were allowed to retire.

-----That is, if they were still alive.

Military life

Spartan boys left home for military boarding school at the age of 21 and were required to serve in the army until age thirty. Then they passed into the active reserve, where they remained until the age of sixty. Spartan education from the ages of seven to thirty emphasised physical toughness, steadfastness in military ranks, and absolute obedience to orders. The ordinary Spartan was a citizen-warrior, or hoplite, trained to obey and endure; he became a politician only if chosen as ephor for a single year. He could be elected a life member of the council after his sixtieth year, in which he would be free from military service. Men could marry at the age of twenty but could not live with their families until they left their active military service at age thirty. The Spartans perfected the craft of hoplite warfare. They called themselves "homoioi" (similars), pointing to their common lifestyle and the discipline of the phalanx, which demanded that no soldier be superior to his comrades.

If male babies born in Sparta were too small, weak or sick (all of which were believed as early signs that they would not be suitable for military life), they were abandoned on the slopes of Mt. Taygetos, also known as Apothetae or Place Of Rejection. The Spartans began military training about the age of 7, where they would enter the agoge system for the education and training—everything from physical training such as hunting and dancing, to emotional and spiritual training. At that age they would have to go through what was known as the gauntlet. They would have to run around a group of older children, who would flog them continually with whips, sometimes to death. As they were lightly clothed, and had no bedding to speak of, children would often put thistles in their pallet because the prickling sensation made them feel warmer. From the age of 13 onward, they would be sorted into groups, and sent into the countryside (with nothing, though some falsely believe they had knives), and forced to survive on their skills and cunning; this was called the Krypteia, believed to be an initiation rite to seek out and kill Helots who were considered to be troublesome to the state, or were found to be wandering the countryside with no good reason.

At the age of twenty, the Spartan began his membership in one of the syssitia (dining messes or clubs), composed of about fifteen members each, of which every citizen was required to be a member. Here each group learned how to bond and rely on one another. The Spartan exercised the full rights and duties of a citizen at the age of thirty. Only native Spartans were considered full citizens, and needed to undergo the training as prescribed by law, and participation in and contribution to one of the dining-clubs. Those who fulfilled these conditions were considered "peers," (homoioi) citizens in the fullest sense of the word, while those who failed were called "lesser citizens," and retained only the civil rights of citizenship.
Read Herodotus or Stephen Pressfield's "The Gates of Fire" a realy good faction read
It's amazing that there is no mention of the fact that Spartan boys were buggered senseless as well!
With that kind of training and over that period of time, serious overuse injuries would be common.
Of course they were terrifying: if 2000 nails, naked, possibly visibly aroused hermers charged you, would you stand and fight? personally speaking, I would have made like a fcuking swastika beaucoup pronto.
Very good point there bernoulli! You'd end up with an arse like a blood orange.

How do you seperate the men form the boys in Greece?

With a stick!


bernoulli said:
Of course they were terrifying: if 2000 nails, naked, possibly visibly aroused hermers charged you, would you stand and fight? personally speaking, I would have made like a fcuking swastika beaucoup pronto.
We dont have to be that fit we have support weapons they eventually got beat by other greeks so not really invincible .


woody said:
bernoulli said:
Of course they were terrifying: if 2000 nails, naked, possibly visibly aroused hermers charged you, would you stand and fight? personally speaking, I would have made like a fcuking swastika beaucoup pronto.
We dont have to be that fit we have support weapons they eventually got beat by other greeks so not really invincible .

I thought it was a slave uprising that did for them ?
So you're saying you wouldn't run away from 2000 hard, naked, visibilty aroused hermers?

Well you are in Portsmouth, I bet you volunteer to spend the night in the barrel!
I don´t think the Spartans did stay in barracks until 60.

They returned home earlier. As they progressed from the "Regular" to the "Reserve" fighing formations.

Wives were snuck in to the barracks, dressed as soldiers, for a conjugal rites. It was a sort of game.

The "Bum fun" allegations, are a bit off, I think. They were encourage dto bond.... a bit like the Royals running ashore dressed as school girls. It didn´t mean they were having sex.

Spartan girls were encouraged in sport and education (Spartan men wee educated too) the idea being that a good mother would bear good children.

The babies left on the mountain weresaid to almost all be collected and brought up by the Helost (spartas slave caste).

Not shown on 300, was the second King. Sparta always had two kings, one would go to war, one would stay behind.

Obviously war was a contact sport in those days, so it was insurance against the King being killed... as he was expected to be at the front of the phalnix.
Main article: Agoge
When male Spartans began military training at age seven, they would enter the Agoge system. The Agoge was designed to encourage discipline and physical toughness and to emphasise the importance of the Spartan state. Boys lived in communal messes and were deliberately underfed, to encourage them to master the skill of stealing food. Besides physical and weapons training, boys studied reading, writing, music and dancing. Special punishments were imposed if boys failed to answer questions sufficiently 'laconically' (i.e. briefly and wittily).[58] At the age of twelve, the Agoge obliged Spartan boys to take an older male mentor, usually an unmarried young man. The older man was expected to function as a kind of substitute father and role model to his junior partner; however, it is also reasonably certain that they had sexual relations (the exact nature of Spartan pederasty is not entirely clear).[59]
At the age of eighteen, Spartan boys became reserve members of the Spartan army. On leaving the Agoge they would be sorted into groups, whereupon some were sent into the countryside with only a knife and forced to survive on their skills and cunning. This was called the Krypteia, and the immediate object of it was to seek out and kill any helots as part of the larger program of terrorising and intimidating the helot population.[60]

Less information is available about the education of Spartan girls, but they seem to have gone through a fairly extensive formal educational cycle, broadly similar to that of the boys but with less emphasis on military training. In this respect, classical Sparta was unique in ancient Greece. In no other city-state did women receive any kind of formal education

Taken from the Wikipedia article on Sparta.


plant_life said:
So you're saying you wouldn't run away from 2000 hard, naked, visibilty aroused hermers?

Well if I had an sf kit it would be over before my jet boil had brewed up
other wise I'd be running away like a younger fitter version of me. :D

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