Capstone: Answering our Main Inquiry Question

Everything we’ve done in Capstone has led up too solely one thing. Answering our main inquiry question. Our site visit, interview and all the research we’ve done in between was just for this. And now, I’ve answered it.

We were required to write a really long essay for our Capstone share. My first one was 13 pages long! But I cut it down in my script, the essay that we would actually be reading. Below this is that.

Sparta was a warrior society that was based on loyalty to the state and physical and mental training. Physical fitness was needed to survive. Babies were abandoned if they weren’t fit enough, but if they survived that, life didn’t get much easier. Spartan men were trained from age 7 into incredible and fearless warriors who wear worth 6 regular men. Interestingly, it trained women too, which was unheard of at the time. Women were honored on Sparta which didn’t fare well with other city-states. Sparta had three classes. At the top were the Spartan citizens. Full citizens could vote and own slaves. Men and women had to pass a test to become a full citizen. If they didn’t, they went to another class, the perioeci, who were free but couldn’t vote. Finally, the lowest class was the Helots who were Spartan slaves. These were former citizens of Greece whose city-states Sparta conquered. The Helots outnumbered Spartans ten to one, but Spartans kept Helots in line by declaring war on them every fall and killing as many as they could. Sparta’s honor and pride lay in its armies and with every war won, its pride grew. Sparta won every battle it waged until the Battle of Leuctra, a war against Sparta and Thebes, which it lost. After that, its power started declining and Sparta’s empire crumbled and faded. Sparta was finally vanquished by the Romans who came to take over Greece and its empire was lost.

Did Sparta’s love for blood, war and theft come in the way of Greece’s harmony? How did Greece deal with this?

Sparta’s love for blood, war and theft did come in the way of Greece’s harmony. A lot, actually. Sparta declared wars on tons of people and states and enslaved many others up to a point were there were too many people too keep track of. In fact, part of Sparta’s downfall came because they had so many slaves and so many conquered nations that revolts constantly scared them and in the end, they just couldn’t control everyone. Sparta looted and killed whole cities at a time without any mercy. But leaders didn’t deal with this in any way. They all feared Sparta and were afraid that the Spartans would turn on them if they interfered. The Spartans had a lot of honor in what they did and if anyone insulted them, it was a full-scale war. It wouldn’t just be a civilized chat. All the other leaders knew that. Believe me, no one wanted the Spartans after them. Plus, no one could match the Spartan army in battle, so why bother trying? Also, as I said earlier, city-states in Greece didn’t really help each other too much unless they absolutely had too. Sure, everyone had allies of some kind, but if you were in trouble, your allies would help you, only if they knew that they wouldn’t be harmed in the process. It’s kind of selfish, but that’s the way things were back then. It still happens today, even though most don’t want to admit it. No one wants to rush into a battle that they know they will lose.

Did Sparta’s belief that they had to be rough to survive and how they trained/ treated citizens come in the way of other cities thoughts about Sparta? How did Sparta gain back their respect?

People always respect those who do well, especially because military was so important in Greece. So they were definitely respected, but not necessarily liked. For example, the Spartans had a training facility called the Agoge. The Agoge trained young men to become soldiers who used their minds and strength. The Agoge was very highly praised throughout Greece because everyone wants to be strong. Sparta was even generous and let men from Imperial families enter the Agoge if they were fit. But most of Greece didn’t see it this way. They didn’t like Sparta’s selective choosing and thought that all Sparta wanted was to keep the facility for itself, though it was Sparta’s to begin with. You can see how jealousy got in the way here and how the Agoge was respected, but people didn’t necessarily like it.

But one thing that the rest of Greece didn’t like was how much freedom Spartan women were given. Spartan women were trained to be as fit as men, which was unheard of. They were taught no manners and no grace so other leaders looked down upon Sparta for this belief and how rough they were with women. Sparta gained back their respect with how strong their men were. It was kind of like a scale. The women weighed down on Sparta’s reputation, but the men lifted it up in such a way, that no one could think too badly of Sparta. Of course, some people still thought badly of Sparta. In fact, these people believed that Sparta’s downfall came because it gave women too much say in its power. Of course, there are always people like that, who always think badly.

Did Sparta help Greece when it was fighting other armies? Did Greece help Sparta when it was fighting other armies? What were famous examples?

Sparta helped Greece when it was fighting other armies, partly because it had too. When someone was attacking Greece, everyone was requested(read; threatened) to come and help. Also, if Greece was conquered, Sparta would be too because, whoever independent Sparta was, it was a part of Greece. A famous example was the Persian War. Greece was greatly outnumbered, but they still won the war because of Sparta’s leadership. The Spartans lead their armies through a narrow pass in which it would be better to have less people in an army. Sparta advised Greece and miraculously it worked. That just goes to show that anything can happen. It also helped that the Spartan army was filled with such strong and brave men who were feared across the countryside. That was how Sparta gained its title as a military based society and how its power started to flourish, so you could say that Sparta was smart to aid Greece. Also, Spartans believed it to be an important honor to fall in battle, so they were eager to fight and die for the place that they called home. In fact, at one point in time, the Spartan government stated that only if a men died in battle would he get the honor of getting his name on his gravestone. That is why they helped Greece, because they wanted to aid their country, even when the country didn’t necessarily help them too much.

But Greece as a whole never really helped Sparta in battle because most of the time, Sparta fought its fellow city-states. There were times when it fought side by side with Greece, like when battling Romans or Egyptians. But when that happened every city-state in Greece had to help in fighting, so it wasn’t too special. Yet since most of the time Sparta fought other city-states, the whole of Greece couldn’t turn on that city-state. Of course, Sparta had its given allies who aided Sparta if it needed it, which they did a couple of times. For example, in the Peloponnesian War, when Sparta fought Athens, Sparta requested a little help while Athens did too. And when the roles were flipped, Sparta helped its allies though never as much as the allies helped them.

Did Sparta’s independence and power raise fears throughout Greece? How did leaders deal with this?

Since the Ancient Greeks thought themselves as more loyal to their state and not to their country, Sparta’s independence wasn’t too out of place. Everyone was independent in some way. But Sparta’s power really threatened Greece. You see, before the Persian War, Sparta was regular and not exactly known for too many things. Sure, its army was known as great, but not as the fearless, strong warriors that we know them as today. Nothing near that. But after the Persian War, Sparta’s influence started to spread. Yet at that time, Sparta’s rival, Athens, was at the top of the chain. So Sparta declared war on Athens. Once Sparta won, it got its name as a fearless, warrior training society. This sudden rise to power scared some people, especially after Athens was destroyed to ruble. And no one likes people with too much power even though they   might fear or respect it in some way. That’s why most people left Sparta alone out of fear. So yes, Sparta’s power definitely raised fears across Greece and made people stay out of the way. But that’s also the same reason that no one wanted to deal with Sparta; because of their growing power. They didn’t want to be found on a battlefield filled with their own blood. And they couldn’t even depend on their own allies to help them because allies only help you up to a certain point. Other city-states saw Athens as something that Sparta left to say We can destroy you, just like we destroyed all of these guys. So they minded their own business and didn’t stop Sparta, unless Sparta insulted them, in which they would have to fight, like in the Battle of Leuctra when the Spartans insulted the Thebans and then they had a massive war, which Sparta eventually lost. But if that didn’t happen, people stayed out of Sparta’s way for the most part. That was the safest way.

Did Sparta depend too much on Greece and raise problems? How did other leaders deal with this?

This question was the opposite of the previous one and I never thought it would be useful. But I actually got some good information from it which helped me. Here it is:

Sparta didn’t depend on all of Greece because Greece wasn’t like the U.S.. They didn’t supply help to countries who needed it. But Sparta did depend on certain states at some point in time. For example, it requested help from allies occasionally, when it needed it, but that hardly counted because allies only helped if they could benefit from this too. But for the most part, Sparta only depended on certain people; the lowly slaves. When the Spartan men were at war, the women took care of most things, such as the country. But they could only do a certain number of things, because they had to take care of kids and make food. So they had Helots, the Spartan slaves. Helots were originally from different parts of Greece that Sparta conquered. They did everything such as cleaning the houses, watering plants, farming and cooking. Helots were treated like simple dirt and kicked around like  that too, but they were essential to Sparta’s success. The Spartans depended on them for a lot of things and the country was run on Helots to some extent because Spartan men and women refused to do the things that they did so Helots were important. Without them, the state would have too many problems to deal with while the men were at war. Even when Sparta was at peace, Helots still were important because they did so many things but while men were at war, the Helots were most valued for they did the most things. This never bothered any leaders because everyone had slaves in Greece so they couldn’t care less about the Spartan ones. This was regular behavior for those in Greece. And anyway, anyone who did complain aloud, although none ever did, was personally inviting Sparta to come and wage war on them, so obviously no one interfered, even if they wanted too.

All this research wasn’t for nothing. It was meant to answer my main inquiry question. For those of you who may not remember, it was ‘How did Sparta contribute to the successes and downfalls of the Ancient Greek Empire?’ And now, with all this research, I have finally figured it out.  Here are my answers;

Sparta was an important part of Greece. But important doesn’t always mean good. Sparta caused more than its fair share of problems, that’s for sure. But you can’t say that Sparta didn’t also help Greece, because it did. It did both.

Sparta contributed to the downfalls of Greece in many ways. I’m going to list them in the order that I think works.

First off, Sparta caused a lot of wars. In fact, after its war with Athens, Sparta introduced the point and meaning of a civil war to the rest of Greece. The Peloponnesian War, with Athens, was extremely big because it marked Athens’ end. Athens had been really influential in Greece. It was almost a complete package because it had naval strength, meaning strength in fighting in sea. Athens also introduced many new terms and philosophical thoughts to the rest of Greece. So when it was nearly destroyed, that really shocked Greece. Also, as the victors, Sparta gave its message of power through that war. Since the Peloponnesian War was so big, lots of other city-states started thinking about doing this with their enemies, which started lons of battles. Everyone started fighting big battles and Greece’s battlefields became soaked with blood and bodies. It definitely gave people in Greece a big headache. All because of Sparta. Additionally, tons of money was spent in these wars while rebuilding. Money was scarce after Sparta wiped out city-states, most of it having been spent on the war that had just occurred. So all the extra money that had to be spent in rebuilding and making new things to help the city-state go on devastated the city even more. And all the people who died in the war that had previously happened were mourning too. They had to take on the task of giving burials and consoling others who’s loved ones had died. All because of the war that just happened. So that definitely hurt Greece.

Also, Helots, Spartan slaves, were fellow Greeks who got conquered from lands nearby Sparta. And everytime Sparta conquered more territories, it enslaved the people who were living there, so they all became Helots. Sparta enslaved its fellow Greek countrymen! And in Sparta, since there were so many Helots, killing them wasn’t a crime, it was just said to be something that would help the state progress. Every autumn, Sparta declared war on the poor Helots and tried to kill as many as they could, just so that the numbers would be smaller and to keep the Helots in line. So that didn’t help Greece because Sparta was enslaving and killed the slaves living there. Would you like it if you knew that your neighbors were enslaved and could potentially be killed? That’s how some of Greece probably felt. But the thing about this was that lots of people had slaves all over Greece and it was common to do this, so this problem wasn’t as big as some other things that Sparta did, even though there was a lot of killing involved. Yet I’m sure the Helots thought of it as a problem that Sparta had created.

In addition to all this, Sparta also destroyed many cities, such as Athens. Before the Peloponnesian War that Athens and Sparta had, Athens had made many new discoveries about life and erected breathtaking monuments, such as the Parthenon which used to hold a detailed statue of Athena, goddess of warfare and the useful arts. But after the Peloponnesian War, it was vanquished and forced to bow down to the Spartans. The whole city had been obliterated because of the war and simply left alone. Though some new things were probably made after that and life still carried on, Athens glory was gone. One guy might have stumbled upon a rare plant that forever changed life if Athens hadn’t been destroyed. No one knows what could have happened. And that was just with one city. There were probably many more city-states that Sparta vanquished, though less famous such as the places were Spartan slaves originated from. Those might have made something too if Sparta hadn’t enslaved the. Plus, with all the rebuilding that had to be done after these cities had been destroyed, a lot of money had been spent. That could have been spent on something else if Sparta hadn’t come. So I would probably say that Sparta didn’t help Greece by destroying all these cities.

On the flip side, Sparta helped Greece by being a great general or leader in big wars, such as the Persian War. Since Sparta had trained kids from age 7 to use their strength and mind solely for war, all of these men helped Greece, not only with strategizing. Just the fact that there were so many amazing and breathtaking soldiers that were at Greece’s disposal was a great help. Because no matter how smart you are, you can’t win a battle without strong and fit soldiers. And you could also say that if you only have fit soldiers who don’t use their mind at all, you’ll also lose a battle. To win things like this, you have to be both strong and smart about wars. And while some city-states were smart and others were fit, not a lot were strong and fit. And none were as strong and fit as Sparta was. So Sparta definitely helped Greece during wars. Without Sparta, Greece would not have won. They would have lost, big time.
Sparta also helped Greece by training young men in its Agoge, the facility camp. As I said earlier, though Spartans were picky about who they let in, they still let others into the Agoge. And the Agoge was what transformed scrawny little boys who couldn’t stay on horses properly into the valiant young men who rode happily into battle with beautiful shining armor that could be seen from miles away. So, even though Sparta was really selective, they still let in some people which others should have been grateful for. Now, scattered across Greece, there were amazing, Spartan-like men who probably made amazing generals and helped to serve their city-state in tons of ways. Though people may have been upset since not many men got the honor of going into the Agoge, you cannot say that none went in because a lot of people did. So the fact that Sparta trained all these young boys into fine soldiers aided Greece a lot.

Another way Sparta helped Greece was with the reputation factors. In the ancient times, Greece was given the title as a conqueror. It took over so many other ancient civilizations and made so many bow down to them. This couldn’t have been done without Sparta. You see, because people feared Sparta, they also feared Greece. They also feared Greece because Sparta would always aid Greece if it needed help. After the Persians defeat, others who wanted to take over Greece might have thought about the Spartans. The thought of these stunning men would make warriors tremble in their shoes and run for safety. So other civilizations thought twice before barrelling through Greece shouting war cries. Though this didn’t stop the bravest, most determined civilizations, such as Rome, it did stop the other, less brave ones. This would help Greece because, though they may win the battle, lives would always be lost and every man was worth something. Who knows, maybe if the Spartans hadn’t scared a small civilization away, a now famous architect might have died in a war while fighting a small civilization. Then what would have been done?

These are my reasons for how Sparta both helped and didn’t help Greece’s civilization. No one could say that Sparta was a complete burden and no one could say that it was a complete lift up either. That’s because it was part of both.

But I think that Sparta should be known as a success to the empire of Greece because the ways that Sparta helped outweigh the ways that it didn’t help. Creating such amazing soldiers helped Greece a lot more than Sparta was given credit for. And the generals that Sparta made were essential to Greece’s success.

This is my main inquiry question. All the research I did is over here in this long essay. I’m proud of it and I don’t think that it could get too much better from here.