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Sparta (in Doric Greek or Sparti in Attic) or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state
in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia – south
eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC,
when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non Dorian, population. Around
650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece.
Given its military pre-eminence, Sparta was recognized as the overall leader of the
combined Greek forces during the Greco-Persian Wars. Between 431 and 404 BC,
Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War, from which
it emerged victorious, though at great cost. Sparta's defeat by Thebes (371 BC) ended
its prominent role in Greece. However, it maintained its political independence until
the Roman conquest in 146 BC. It then underwent a long period of decline, especially
in the Middle Ages when many Spartans moved to live in Mystras. In our days
Sparta, is the capital of the Greek regional unit of Laconia and a center for the
processing of goods such as citrus and olives.
Sparta was unique in ancient Greece for its social system and constitution, which
completely focused on military training and excellence. Spartiates underwent the
rigorous “agoge” - training that involved learning stealth, cultivating loyalty to the
Spartan group, military training (e.g., pain tolerance), hunting, dancing, singing and
social communicating preparation. The Spartan phalange, rectangular mass military
formation, was widely considered to be among the best in battle. Spartan women
enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical
Sparta was the subject of fascination in its own day, as well as in the West following
the revival of classical learning. This love or admiration of Sparta is known as
Laconism or Laconophilia.