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Ancient Sparta

5. Perioeci and Helots

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About this Lecture


In this module, we examine two groups of people without whom the Spartan state could not have existed; first, the perioeci, free, non-Spartan men who were the craftsmen and merchants of the Spartans; second, the helots, an enslaved race of Greeks who were responsible for food production in the Spartan territories, but who were also liable to revolt when the Spartans led their guard down.


In this lecture, Professor Paul Cartledge (University of Cambridge) examines the ancient city-state of Sparta. In the first module, we discuss the evidence for ancient Sparta, noting the tendency for both contemporary and later writers to exaggerate stories about Sparta in what historians now refer to as the "Spartan mirage". After that, we look at the Spartan education system - firstly the "agoge" (or "rearing") of the citizen males, and then the education of women, and their roles as wives and mothers. In the fourth module, we look at probably the most well-known aspects of ancient Spartan life - the concept of warriorhod - before moving on to consider the other peoples without whom the Spartan system could not have existed - the perioeci and the helots. In the last module, we consider Sparta's legacy in the modern world, including the words "Laconic" and "Spartan", but also the presentation of the city-state (and what it represents) in the movies.


Paul Cartledge is Professor of Greek History in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge, where he has taught since 1979; he is also a Fellow of Clare College. His undergraduate and doctoral qualifications where obtained at Oxford, where he completed a dissertation on the archaeology and history of early Sparta under the supervision of Professor Sir John Boardman. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of a score of books, including most recently The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece; The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization; Sparta and Lakonia: A Regional History c.1300-362 BC; The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others; The Spartans: An Epic History; Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past and Thermopylae: The Battle that Changed the World . He co-edits two monograph series, sits on the editorial boards of three learned journals and serves as consultant in ancient history to Duckworth publishers. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and holds the Gold Cross of the Order of Honour awarded by the President of the Hellenic Republic.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cartledge, P. (2018, August 15). Ancient Sparta - Perioeci and Helots [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cartledge, P. "Ancient Sparta – Perioeci and Helots." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,