History – The Music in Sparta

History – The Music in Sparta

The Music in Sparta

In this article we will see: “The Music in Sparta”, history, the chronicle of human civilization, serves as a window to the past, illuminating the triumphs, struggles, and evolution of societies over millennia. Through the study of historical events, we unravel the complexities of our collective heritage and gain insight into the forces shaping our present and future.

Summary : History – The Music in Sparta

The Music in Sparta: Sparta, renowned for its military prowess and strict societal structure, stands as a fascinating enigma in ancient history. From its rigorous training of young warriors to its unique approach to music and culture, Sparta offers a glimpse into a society shaped by discipline and dedication. Exploring the music of Sparta unveils not only its role in military rituals but also its influence on daily life, reflecting the Spartan ethos of strength and resilience.

History – The Music in Sparta

After a long day of marching and arduous exercises, when young Spartans went to the mess hall to eat, they received a meager ration. Lycurgus claimed that children should grow tall, not wide, which was a personal opinion but one to which all acquiesced,  on empty stomachs. Lycurgus (him again!) also believed that if children were hungry after a meal, they should steal to fill their bellies. Wasn’t that how soldiers managed in the field?

Theft was thus somewhat authorized. What was forbidden was getting caught! The evenings of the young warriors were devoted to music, the only art tolerated in Sparta. Boys were advised to learn to play the flute… because the army went into battle to the sound of this compact and easily transportable instrument. When they turned twenty, young Spartans joined the regular army.

They were then graciously allowed to marry… but had to continue living in the barracks. At least their wives knew where their husbands spent the night! Only at the age of thirty were Spartans allowed to live in their own homes. Yet they were still required to have their meals, as before, with their comrades-in-arms. In times of peace, citizens were obliged to regularly provide a certain quantity of food to the army and also some money.

This money was used to buy the meat for the famous black broth, which, it was claimed, imparted unusual vigor to the soldiers of Sparta. In any case, it proved their heroism: no other Greek could ingest it without immediately rejecting it! “Having a strong stomach” is a colloquial expression that may perhaps originate from Lycurgus’s beloved Spartan broth!

Once the evening meal was dispatched (no doubt they didn’t linger at the table!), the soldiers of austere Sparta were allowed to return home. They had to walk through the dark streets without any light! While waiting for their warrior-husbands, Spartan women had time to cook up some good dishes. They were not confined to their homes like the unfortunate Athenian women. Free to move about as they pleased, they came and went as they pleased.

Their tongue was no more restrained than they were. They even had it so well hung that it was a subject of jest throughout Greece. It was said that the harsh words of their wives toughened the Spartans more than their military training. Another story circulated about the stony-heartedness (which some called heroism) of Spartan mothers. When their child went off to war, they simply said to them, “Return with your shield or on it, dead.”

Some wagging tongues – non-Spartans – pretended not to understand and claimed that Spartan ladies seemed to value the shield more than their sons. However, if the Greeks mocked the harsh and narrow life of the Spartans, they never laughed at their conduct in war. Spartans were never known to be cowards. 

They knew how to die standing and with weapons in hand. Spartans only allowed themselves the luxury of appearing elegant on one occasion: in battle!

When the flutes began to play, they advanced onto the battlefield, calm, their long curly hair adorned with flowers, for, as Lycurgus said: “A beautiful head of hair adds to the natural dignity of a man if he is handsome, and gives him a terrifying appearance if he is ugly.” Something for our current “beautiful heads of hair” to ponder. It is true that nowadays, the guitar has replaced the flute and the ballad the warrior hymns.

Last word about : History – The Music in Sparta

The Music in Sparta: The study of music in Sparta reveals a multifaceted aspect of this ancient society, highlighting its deep-rooted traditions and values. Through music, Spartans forged bonds of camaraderie, instilled discipline, and celebrated their unique identity. Despite its austere reputation, Sparta’s musical legacy serves as a testament to the complexity and richness of its culture, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of history.

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