The Helots Essay Sample
Sparta Free Essay Example
Greeks have one the most interesting and oldest history in world. With its current development and economic developments, Greece as a nation went through diverse moments most of which contributed in shaping of its current status. Like other ancient nations, warfare was quiet common in determining the strength of an empire leading to capture of land, slaves and other properties. As a result, military planning and preparedness was a necessity for every empire. These wars led to displacement of people, intermarriages resulting into transformation of societal values, culture and traditions. This analysis focuses on Helots who originally occupied Messenia and Laconia in the Spartan society before they were captured by Spartans. The research comprehensively covers the history of Helots and their contribution to Spartan society and Sparta’s military success. To achieve this target, secondary sources of research which included books and journal articles were employed with special attention to the helots. Clearly, the helots had a detailed history and played a major role in the Spartan society and even towards its military success.
The significance of Greek culture in western countless has been considered to be quite great with regard to politics, art, architecture and literature among other aspects of a social life. This led to transformation of many nations into what they are today through cultivation of democracy and visions. Greeks are well known for their early scientific discoveries in areas which included but not limited to astronomy, mathematics and mathematics. They further steered the exploration of logic and science of the mind. Although they lack a detailed history, significant events revolved their entire life. It is however important to mention that they humbly begun their history with sea transport being the main means of transport which introduced them to the western world. As a result of interaction, other many different communities explored Greece and begun the journey of development. Growth and expansion of communities led to conflicts which later developed into wars that greatly shaped Greece.
One of the cities of Greece which played a significant role in shaping its history was Sparta. It was the capital city of Laconia and was also considered as the most influential state. The city was believed to have been founded by Lacedaemon who decided to name the city after his beloved wife. Because of the warfare which characterized the life of many Greek cities, Spartan life and education mainly revolved around military affairs. Spartans mainly focused on endurance, obedience and the success in military life as a way of viewing life and overcoming numerous challenges which came their way. This was clearly the baseline for the success and the entire greatness of Spartans. This was quite significant in ensuring the success and superiority of a community. As a powerful community, Spartans went ahead to conquer a number of territories and later the capture of Laconia. This led to a series of captures including the Helots who were mainly reduced to mere slaves.
As warfare continued, Spartans advanced in their strategies becoming the most powerful with all its neighbours not willing to go against it. Even during the Messenian War no single territory was willing to support it apart from the Corinthians due to the fact that they had powerful neighbours. According to history records, a major attack was made on Tegea by the Spartans during the sixth century that and later led to its capture even after it attained its independence. It is worth noting that although Spartans conquered Tegea after a fierce battle, their opponents were also considered powerful. This series of warfare events led to another and the attack on Argos was the last one. As long time rivals, Sparta and Argos fought for supremacy over the ownership and control of resources. However, the battle was not easy for Argos because most of its early allies had been seriously beaten by Sparta and lost their independence. After a long battle Spartans won and were declared as the masters of the entire Cynuria. Many neighbouring territories viewed Sparta as the most powerful city around in terms of military and war fare. As a result, some territories like Scythian approached her for support during the preparations of invading Darius leading the expansion of the reputation and weaponry ability of Spartans.
Due to the powerful nature of Sparta, many territories came under its control. Among these people conquered by Spartans were the helots. These people lived in total captivity without enjoying a better portion of their entire life. Also they formed part of the Spartan society they were deprived off almost each of their right making them acquire the title of state owned serf property. Although all human beings are equal with a common ancestry, helots were considered to be less human and as people who did not qualify for a single basic human right in life. Most of the available human privileges were mainly reserved for citizens. Since helots were not considered as full citizens of Sparta, they never lived to see these benefits. Among other restrictions, magistrate positions were all meant for men thus giving less consideration to women with regard to legal processes and judicial system of the society.
On the other hand, not everyone in the community was allowed to marry thus denying majority of helots to their conjugal rights which accompanies marriage. Furthermore, Sparta authority did not allow every man to serve in the military but only those who were physically fit and healthy. Although unoccupied land was in plenty many helots remained landless due to the fact that they were not allowed to any piece of land. The issue of class also dominated the society with poor people being considered less human. The equality right never existed in this society a fact that greatly affected the lower class that was never recognized.
The absence of equality in Sparta society led to division of people based social and economical status. Helots were considered as a group of un-free laborers who were to continuously render their services to those who valued themselves from a selfish and inhuman point of view. Helots were generally peasants and also found in different Spartan sectors offering their services in odd job positions like servants and guards. They were totally viewed to be different in terms of ethnicity but they could be released to join the other free world that enjoyed life. This clearly reveals the fact that helots live a life that was not easy to describe. As affirmed by many authors and ancient historical researchers, helots lived a life that was quite different from was known as un-free labor. Unlike other slaves in other cities like Athens, Helots were allowed to have families and communities without the right to any property. As a result, helots earned several names which were aimed at describing their lifestyle which fall in between free people and slaves. Notably, other authors referred to them as public slaves whereas others called them Commonwealth slaves. Nevertheless, majority agreed that helots were simply un-free laborers.
Despite the lifestyle of helots which was not appealing from a human perspective, helots came into existence long ago during ancient war period in Greece. Helots are believed to have been a result of the war between the Dorians and Laconia. Researchers argue that the population of Laconia reduced to helots after being conquered by the Dorians. This argument is based on the perceived meaning of the word heilotes which implies capture. Regardless of the findings, Dorian invasion lacks substantial research evidence which makes it hard for to give an account of a poorly researched event using poorly researched evidence.
It is obvious that many explanations surround the origin and establishment of helots but the truth is the fact that war and slavery was a major cause for the emerging of helot’s society which became a community of un-free labor. During its early formation time, helots offered forced labor on farms but they were not allowed to consume fruits which came from the land but them over to Spartans. Despite this equality disparity, helots organized themselves into communities which remained stable. Due to the organization in their community, they were allowed to carry out various religious activities.
It is however important to note that helots firmly retained their original identity as Messenians and continually hoped for a liberation day. Many historical recording reveal that there were numerous revolts done by Messenian helots and that they deliberately ate raw which belonged to their master. There was an increase in the number of helots at in Messenia leading to a number of problems. These problems caused Spartans to introduce military discipline which saw the perfection of a military class. Military officers were to remain on guard fulltime without any free time. Inhumanly, if a helot was killed by a Spartan, the case was not considered as murder but simply a war activity. Although, helots suffered in chains, it exerted pressure on the entire Spartan society as a result of rebellion. It is also important to note that helots multiplied and overdid the number of Spartans, their masters. This system never lasted for long after the helots were liberated by the Theban commander who attacked Sparta and conquered it at Leuctra.
Helots’ contribution towards the success of Spartans military affairs is on the reasons why this community has remained very important not only in the history of Spartans but in the entire history of Greeks. Helots were quite instrumental in tilling the land. This involved the allocation of a fixed amount of work to be covered in order to provide for their masters and other Spartan leaders. They however never gave up with their desire and deliberation hope that made them revolt always without worrying about death. This led to the death of many helots especially during the Messenian War.
The success of the Spartan military was attributed to the fact that military training was mandatory among healthy men. Since the state was considered more powerful than any other, many citizens had extreme attachment to their state. As a result, the soldiers were expected to fully protect the community at all times. The military rule viewed those people who were unfit to serve in the military as unqualified members of the Spartan society. This led to the growth in the number of military officers. It is astonishing to mention that military training among Spartans begun at a tender age of six years. On the other hand, infants who failed the military examination test were always killed over a cliff to promote nurturing of an all round military society. However, the interview which was done by elders was inhuman and unacceptable since it involved killing of innocent children due to poor military observable qualifications. Involving military training of young boys also contributed in expansion of military warfare. This training equipped trainees with skills which were to help them overcome life challengers especially in the presence of an attack. Trainees were also taught how to look for food in the absence of basic food. However, some the methods were unethical and risky. Soldiers were taught how to steal as an option of finding food during hunger or starvation. However, the training intensified as their years increased.
Although there were several steps which were taken by Sparta in strengthening its military force, helots too played a major role. Their hope for liberation that triggered them to revolt frequently and violently pushed Sparta leaders to invest in military training for defense purposes. They also contributed to the military labor force despite the fact that not every helot man was allowed to join the military.