Sparta, known as the most formidable city in history, is famous for its impressive military power, demonstrating that strength did not rely on numbers but on Spartan discipline. Originally a small city fighting solely for survival against enemy invaders, Sparta’s reputation grew exponentially.
Her objective was to prevent defeat from other city-states and she came close to achieving it. Through self-denial, strict discipline, and rigorous training, Sparta dedicated most of her efforts to reaching her goal. Reputed as the conqueror of men, her power instilled fear in all but Spartan men. Nonetheless, Sparta did not engage in warfare any less seriously than any other army; she simply excelled at it.
While appearing cold and focused on military matters, Sparta actively engaged in festivities. They celebrated festivals with great enthusiasm, treated families kindly, and were known for their beautiful women. Nevertheless, they remained unwavering in their objectives and refused to be sidetracked. The existence of civil conflicts and historical rivalries constantly reminded them of their determination to prevent Athens or any other competitor from gaining dominance.
However, despite the rivalry between Sparta and Athens, Sparta was willing to join forces with its rivals to protect against outside threats. As a display of solidarity, Sparta temporarily put aside its competition with Athens and fought fiercely against enemy forces during Greece’s confrontation with Persia. While Sparta emerged triumphant in the conflict against the Persians, the peace between Sparta and Athens was brief as their focus soon returned to insignificant concerns.
For 75 years, Sparta and Athens continuously battled for control, with Sparta ultimately prevailing. However, this triumph exposed a fatal flaw in Sparta’s character to the other Greek city-states. Despite their formidable military prowess, Sparta enforced oppressive rule and strict discipline over the cities they governed.
This demonstrated that Sparta’s vulnerability lay in effectively maintaining peace among its recently conquered territories. Despite the devastating defeat from the smaller city of Thebes, the people of Sparta persisted in celebrating their Youth Festival without displaying any emotion—a characteristic that epitomized the essence of Sparta. Although it would take time for Sparta to decline, it slowly diminished while still embodying the unyielding discipline of its Spartan heritage. The goal of survival against all adversaries was within reach, but a minor yet fatal error was made.
Foolishly underestimating the power of Thebes, Sparta failed to recognize that Thebes was remarkably similar to its younger self. Both Sparta and Thebes initially started as small cities engaged in warfare to ensure their survival. However, Thebes had a different approach – they aimed to defeat Sparta in order to ensure their own survival. Ultimately, Sparta’s decline went unnoticed and ended without any grandeur or fame. It was resurrected as a more peaceful and subdued version of itself in 1850. Unlike many other magnificent cities, Sparta did not leave behind any remarkable architectural feats.
Her quiet but steadfast discipline lingers in the remains of ancient Sparta – mere crumbling stones. “The legacy of Sparta can be found in an ideal, and if we attempt to summarize what made her eternal, it would be character.” The answer to whether or not Sparta accomplished her objective is negative.