|The Story of the Greeks|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Greece, made up principally of stories about persons, giving at the same time a clear idea of the most important events in the ancient world and calculated to enforce the lessons of perseverance, courage, patriotism, and virtue that are taught by the noble lives described. Beginning with the legends of Jason, Theseus, and events surrounding the Trojan War, the narrative moves on to present the contrasting city-states of Sparta and Athens, the war against Persia, their conflicts with each other, the feats of Alexander the Great, and annexation by Rome. Ages 10-14 |
THE SPARTAN TRAINING
THE laws which Lycurgus drew up for the Spartans were very
strict. For instance, as soon as a babe came into the
world, the law ordered that the father should wrap it
up in a cloak, and carry it before a council made up of
some of the oldest and wisest men.
 They looked at the child carefully, and if it seemed
strong and healthy, and was neither crippled nor in any
way deformed, they said that it might live. Then they
gave it back to the father, and bade him bring up the
child for the honor of his country.
If the babe was sickly or deformed, it was carried off
to a mountain near by, and left alone; so that it soon
died of hunger or thirst, or was eaten up by the wild
The Spartan children staid under their father's roof
and in their mother's care until they were seven years
old. While in the nursery, they were taught all the
beautiful old Greek legends, and listened with delight
to the stories of the ancient heroes, and especially to
the poems of Homer telling about the war of Troy and
the adventures of Ulysses.
As soon as the children had reached seven years of age,
they were given over to the care of the state, and
allowed to visit their parents but seldom. The boys
were put in charge of chosen men, who trained them to
become strong and brave; while the girls were placed
under some good and wise woman, who not only taught
them all they needed to know to keep house well, but
also trained them to be as strong and fearless as their
brothers. All Spartan boys were allowed but one rough
woolen garment, which served as their sole covering by
night and by day, and was of the same material in
summer as in winter.
They were taught very little reading, writing, and
arithmetic, but were carefully trained to recite the
poems of Homer, the patriotic songs, and to accompany
them-  selves skillfully on the lyre. They were also obliged
to sing in the public chorus, and to dance gracefully
at all the religious feasts.
As the Spartans were very anxious that their boys
should be strong and fearless, they were taught to
stand pain and fatigue without a murmur; and, to make
sure that they could do so, their teachers made them go
through a very severe training.
Led by one of the older boys, the little lads were
often sent out for long tramps over rough and stony
roads, under the hot sun; and the best boy was the one
who kept up longest, in spite of bleeding feet, burning
thirst, and great fatigue.
Spartan boys were allowed no beds to sleep in, lest
they should become lazy and hard to please. Their only
couch was a heap of rushes, which they picked on the
banks of the Eurotas, a river near Sparta; and in
winter they were allowed to cover these with a layer of
cat-tail down to make them softer and warmer.
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