Λακεδαίμων  (Ancient Greek)
900s–192 BC
The Lambda was used by the Spartan army as a symbol of Lacedaemon
Territory of ancient Sparta
Territory of ancient Sparta
Common languagesDoric Greek
Greek polytheism
• 1104–1066 BC
• 1104–1062 BC
• 489–480 BC
Leonidas I
• 192 BC
Historical eraClassical antiquity
900s BC
685–668 BC
480 BC
431–404 BC
362 BC
• Annexed by Achaea
192 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Greek Dark Ages
Achaean League
Roman Republic
Hollow Lacedaemon. Site of the Menelaion, the ancient shrine to Helen and Menelaus constructed in the Bronze Age city that stood on the hill of Therapne on the left bank of the Eurotas River overlooking the future site of Dorian Sparta. Across the valley the successive ridges of Mount Taygetus are in evidence.

Sparta (Doric Greek: Σπάρτα, Spártā; Attic Greek: Σπάρτη, Spártē) was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. In antiquity the city-state was known as Lacedaemon (Λακεδαίμων, Lakedaímōn), while the name Sparta referred to its main settlement on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese.[1] 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 leading force of the unified Greek military during the Greco-Persian Wars.[2] Between 431 and 404 BC, Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War,[3] from which it emerged victorious, though at a great cost of lives lost. Sparta's defeat by Thebes in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC ended Sparta's prominent role in Greece. However, it maintained its political independence until the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC. It then underwent a long period of decline, especially in the Middle Ages, when many Spartans moved to live in Mystras. Modern 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 configured their entire society to maximize military proficiency at all costs, and completely focused on military training and excellence. Its inhabitants were classified as Spartiates (Spartan citizens, who enjoyed full rights), mothakes (non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans), perioikoi (free residents, literally "dwellers around"), and helots (state-owned serfs, enslaved non-Spartan local population). Spartiates underwent the rigorous agoge training and education regimen, and Spartan phalanges were widely considered to be among the best in battle. Spartan women enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical antiquity.

Sparta was the subject of fascination in its own day, as well as in Western culture following the revival of classical learning. This love or admiration of Sparta is known as Laconism or Laconophilia. At its peak around 500 BC the size of the city would have been some 20,000–35,000 citizens, plus numerous helots and perioikoi. The likely total of 40,000–50,000 made Sparta one of the largest Greek cities;[4][5] however, according to Thucydides, the population of Athens in 431 BC was 360,000–610,000, making it unlikely that Athens was smaller than Sparta in 5th century BC.[n 1] The French classicist François Ollier in his 1933 book Le mirage spartiate ("The Spartan Mirage") warned that a major scholarly problem regarding Sparta is that all the surviving accounts were written by non-Spartans who often presented an excessively idealized image of Sparta.[7] Ollier's views have been widely accepted by scholars.[7]


The earliest attested term referring to Lacedaemon is the Mycenaean Greek 𐀨𐀐𐀅𐀖𐀛𐀍, ra-ke-da-mi-ni-jo, "Lacedaimonian", written in Linear B syllabic script,[8][n 2] being the equivalent of the written in the Greek alphabet, latter Greek, Λακεδαιμόνιος, Lakedaimonios (Latin: Lacedaemonius).[14][15]

Eurotas River

The ancient Greeks used one of three words to refer to the home location of the Spartans. The first refers primarily to the main cluster of settlements in the valley of the Eurotas River: Sparta.[16] The second word was Lacedaemon (Λακεδαίμων);[17] this was also used sometimes as an adjective and is the name commonly used in the works of Homer and the historians Herodotus and Thucydides. Herodotus seems to denote by it the Mycenaean Greek citadel at Therapne, in contrast to the lower town of Sparta. It could be used synonymously with Sparta, but typically it was not. It denoted the terrain on which Sparta was situated.[18] In Homer it is typically combined with epithets of the countryside: wide, lovely, shining and most often hollow and broken (full of ravines).[19] The hollow suggests the Eurotas Valley. Sparta on the other hand is the country of lovely women, a people epithet.

The name of the population was often used for the state of Lacedaemon: the Lacedaemonians. This epithet utilized the plural of the adjective Lacedaemonius (Greek: Λακεδαιμὀνιοι; Latin: Lacedaemonii, but also Lacedaemones). If the ancients wished to refer to the country more directly, instead of Lacedaemon, they could use a back-formation from the adjective: Lacedaemonian country. As most words for "country" were feminine, the adjective was in the feminine: Lacedaemonia (Λακεδαιμονία, Lakedaimonia). Eventually, the adjective came to be used alone.

"Lacedaemonia" was not in general use during the classical period and before. It does occur in Greek as an equivalent of Laconia and Messenia during the Roman and early Byzantine periods, mostly in ethnographers and lexica glossing place names. For example, Hesychius of Alexandria's Lexicon (5th century AD) defines Agiadae as a "place in Lacedaemonia" named after Agis.[20] The actual transition may be captured by Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae (7th century AD), an etymological dictionary. He relied heavily on Orosius' Historiarum Adversum Paganos (5th century AD) and Eusebius of Caesarea's Chronicon (early 5th century AD) as did Orosius. The latter defines Sparta to be Lacedaemonia Civitas but Isidore defines Lacedaemonia as founded by Lacedaemon, son of Semele, relying on Eusebius.[21] There is a rare use, perhaps the earliest of Lacedaemonia, in Diodorus Siculus,[22] but probably with Χὠρα (‘’chúra’’, "country") suppressed.

The immediate area around the town of Sparta, the plateau east of the Taygetos mountains, was generally referred as Laconice (Λακωνική).[23] This term was sometimes used to refer to all the regions under direct Spartan control, including Messenia.

Lakedaimona was until 2006 the name of a province in the modern Greek prefecture of Laconia.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Sparta
Alemannisch: Sparta
العربية: أسبرطة
asturianu: Esparta
azərbaycanca: Sparta
বাংলা: স্পার্টা
Bân-lâm-gú: Sparta
беларуская: Спарта
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Спарта
български: Древна Спарта
bosanski: Sparta
brezhoneg: Sparta (kêr)
català: Esparta
Cebuano: Spárti
čeština: Sparta
Cymraeg: Sparta
dansk: Sparta
Deutsch: Sparta
eesti: Sparta
Ελληνικά: Αρχαία Σπάρτη
español: Esparta
Esperanto: Sparto
estremeñu: Esparta
euskara: Esparta
فارسی: اسپارت
français: Sparte
Frysk: Sparta
Gaeilge: Sparta
galego: Esparta
한국어: 스파르타
հայերեն: Սպարտա
हिन्दी: स्पार्टा
hrvatski: Sparta
Ido: Sparta
Bahasa Indonesia: Sparta
interlingua: Sparta
íslenska: Sparta
italiano: Sparta
עברית: ספרטה
Basa Jawa: Sparta
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಸ್ಪಾರ್ಟಾ
ქართული: სპარტა
қазақша: Спарта
kurdî: Sparta
Latina: Lacedaemon
latviešu: Sparta
Lëtzebuergesch: Sparta
lietuvių: Sparta
magyar: Spárta
македонски: Спарта
Bahasa Melayu: Sparta
မြန်မာဘာသာ: စပါတာ
नेपाल भाषा: स्पार्ता
日本語: スパルタ
norsk: Sparta
norsk nynorsk: Spárti
occitan: Esparta
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਸਪਾਰਟਾ
پنجابی: سپارٹا
پښتو: سپارتا
Plattdüütsch: Sparta (Antike)
português: Esparta
română: Sparta
русский: Спарта
Scots: Sparta
shqip: Sparta
sicilianu: Sparta
Simple English: Sparta
slovenčina: Sparta (starovek)
slovenščina: Antična Šparta
српски / srpski: Античка Спарта
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sparta
suomi: Sparta
svenska: Sparta
Tagalog: Isparta
tarandíne: Sparta
Türkçe: Sparta
Türkmençe: Sparta
українська: Спарта
اردو: سپارٹا
vèneto: Sparta
Tiếng Việt: Sparta
文言: 古斯巴達
Winaray: Sparta
吴语: 斯巴达
粵語: 古斯巴達
žemaitėška: Sparta
中文: 斯巴达