The aim of this paper is to investigate the role of rites of passage in the socialization of Spartan youth. Methodologically, our discussion will be based upon
- ancient literary sources, in particular Plutarch, Xenophon and Pausanias,
- interdisciplinary approaches initiated by modern historians and sociologists, and
- archaeological evidence.
Discussion will begin with an overview of the ancient Spartan educational system and, in particular, an assessment of the evidence for the participation of both boys and girls in festivals. It is concluded that the Spartans incorporated a system of rites of passage in their educational programme with the aim to achieving the greatest levels of socialization of their youth, both boys and girls, the main reason for which was the important role that kinetic activities played in the context of rites of passage.
The fascinatingly complex Spartan tradition holds an important place in western political thought, while the influence exercised by the images and the fables of Sparta are still potent today. Amongst the numerous Spartan institutions admiration is caused by the eminent Spartan training [agogi], an education system which was under the guardianship and control of the State, which according to many historians lay behind Sparta’s success in becoming the most militarily successful Greek city-state (Kennell, 1995, Birgalias, 1999, Ducat, 2006, Koliopouos, 2004).
SMIJ – VOL. 6, Number 1, (2010)