Leaving behind now, the little village of Oscara in Boeotia and Hesiod, we're going to move to southern Greece, to the Peloponnese. And we're going to talk about the development of one of the most powerful, one of the most important Polis in Greek history and that is Sparta. Before we do so, we should be very, very careful, however, one modern historian has said, that if evidence about archaic communities has to be handled with caution, the evidence about Sparta should come with a warning label. It's because Sparta was unique. There was really no other place like it. It resembled other Poleis in some ways, but its way of defining itself was utterly different. Moreover, a lot of things that had been believed about Sparta are no longer believed. For example, there was this idea that Sparta was isolated, utterly isolated from the other Greek communities of its time, at least in terms of economics. But archaeologists have found Spartan-ware in other locations and pottery made elsewhere in Sparta. So while it's certainly the case that Sparta didn't have the extensive trade networks of Athens, say, or Corinth, it was not totally separated from what was happening elsewhere in the Greek world. Likewise, as we'll see, the Spartans prided themself, prided themselves on an ideology of likeness of a sort of radical equality. But, closer, a study of the evidence has shown that this equality may have been honored more in the breech than in the observance. That is to say, there were certainly distinctions of class and status even among the Spartans themselves. Even a poet like Tyrtaeus, who had been identified as the spokesman for a kind of Spartan value, which we'll see in a moment. Scholars have come to think, some scholars think at least, that Tyrtaeus like Homer, is a name that was applied to a set of poems that were composed by a number of different poets. So with all of that as a preliminary caution, let's move on to where Sparta is. It's in the area called the Peloponnese in southern Greece. Here, you can see the Isthmus of Corinth and the Peloponnese. This is the area of Argos. And Sparta is here. It was originally four straggling unwalled villages. Later on, the Spartans would boast, our men are our laws. But, these villages coalesced, and that process that we described as synoecism. And, they took advantage of their natural location, which is on the Eurotas River, a swift flowing cold stream that begins in the mountains of Arcadia and flows down to the sea. Sparta is on the Eurotas and it is located also between two mountain ranges. To the west, the towering Mount Taygetos, and to the east, the lower but still quite impressive, Mount Parnon. In other words, Sparta had access to plentiful water. It was in a beautifully defensible location and in fact controlled access to this entire region in the Southern Peloponnese. You can get some sense of what the Spartan location is like, this view of the modern city, yhe little bit of the ancient left here in the foreground. In Homer, Sparta is the home of Menelaus and Helen. Yeah, that Helen, Helen of Troy. In a wonderful modern short story, John Barth wrote called the Menalaiad, Menaleus, who's the narrator says rather wistfully, why don't they ever call her Helen of Sparta? A reasonable question one might say, but in the war against the Trojans, the Spartans contribute a commander Menelaides of course, and a contingent which is large, but is by no means the largest. They are part of a kind of generalized community of Achaeans fighting against the Trojans, and it seems that historically as well, Sparta in the Dark Ages and in the early Archaic Age was really no different from the other Greek communities of the time. One of the things about Sparta is that its remains are really fairly meager. Even in the fifth century, Thucydides, the historian said, that if people in the future found the ruins of Athens, they would think that the Athenians were much more powerful, than they had actually been. Whereas, if they went to Sparta, they would think that the Spartans were much less powerful than they had actually been, because the Spartan buildings were so modest. This continues to be true. If you think about the difference between, say the Parthenon on the Acropolis and in this rather battered remains of a theater in Sparta, you can make it some idea of this disjunction. Where things start to change is in the eighth century with the so called First Messenian War. As you will see, all of these dates are very approximate. But what seems to have happened is that the Spartans got the idea of conquering that large territory to their west beyond Mount Taygetos called Nicene. Under their legendary king Theopompus, in a line of Tyrtaeus says they took wide floor from the scenic. Whether this means that they conquered the whole thing or at least much of it we will never know for sure, but the war took obviously a very long time. One of the consequences was, again, something that we have talked about a little bit before, which is some kind of social unrest at home. It was at this time in the late eighth century, around 710 or so. That the Spartans sent out their first and only colony, Taras. And as others were doing at the time, they sent them west, to the instep of the boot of Southern Italy. Where in ancient times and Roman times it came to be called Torentum, and in modern Italy, it's Tarranto. But, the fact of sending out a colony as we have seen, is evidence of some kind of upheaval or crisis at home. And the Spartans were clearly using colonization as so many other communities did as a kind of safety valve to send off a group of folks who were making trouble of some kind or perhaps just no longer felt welcome there. The conquest of Messenia may have give the Spartans visions of grandeur, because the next thing that we hear about, next major event is around 670 and that is the defeat of a Spartan force by an army from Argos, the Argives, up the north of Sparta as we've seen. It may have been the Spartan defeat there that gave the conquered Messenians some idea that they could claim their liberty, because it seems that its at this time that there occurred the second Messenian war. The Spartans wanted to retake this massive territory. This too, was a war of very long duration and it is the war that has come to be identified with the lyric poet, Tyrtaeus, many of whose verses have to do with maintaining courage in the face of struggle, keeping your place in battle. Let each man bear his shield straight toward the forefighters regarding his own life as hateful and holding the dark spirits of death as dear as the radiance of the sun. Those who dare to remain in place at one another's side then advance together toward hand to hand combat in the forefighters. They die in lesser numbers, says Tyrtaeus, and they save the army behind them. But when they flee in terror, all soldierly excellence is lost. Historians have seen, in Tyrtaeus' verses, some evidence. For the fact that Spartan conquest of Messenia may have come close to cracking at times. Torteas is writing to encourage his fellow Spartans, to keep up the fight, to hold their place in the hoplite phalanx, not to give up. He writes elsewhere about the shame that is felt. By someone that has a wound in the back that is from running away. We'll never know whether these verses were in fact composed at exactly this time, much less what effect they might have had on Tyrtaeus's fellow Spartans, but what we do know is that the Spartans did eventually win. They wound up conquering and taking over this area to the west. This is a massive agricultural area. In fact, the territory of the historic Spartan polis is some 3,000 square miles. It's really big. It's three times as big as Atigon, that is the territory of the Athenian polis. But what the Spartans also acquired along with this land, was a subject population. The native Messenians were brought under Spartan domination and became state-owned serfs. We'll talk, they're called Helots. We'll talk much more about them as we go along. The Spartans had to control the Helots who outnumbered them and one of the things that we can see is Sparta responding to. This threat by developing an extremely rigid militarily based system of life, society, education, the whole thing. Tyrtaeus' exhortations to military or martial valor were Seemed, as I say, to have succeeded, if we can put it that way. But it's at this time, almost certainly, that Sparta underwent the change, that put it apart from the other archaic Polis. That turned it into the Sparta of the Spartan legend that gives us the adjectives, in English, of Spartan, meaning spare or bare, austere. Or laconic, this area is called Laconia, and laconic is short speech, because the Spartans came to be famous for speaking in clipped, little sentences. Just the facts, just what you needed to do. Standing over this entire development is the shadowy figure of another great law giver Lycurgus. His name can be etmologized as something like wolf-worker. Whether he actually existed, we'll never know, but it, what is certainly the case is that the reforms that turned Sparta into the Sparta of history and legend, couldn't have been the work of just one man. Nonetheless, Lycurgus became the founding hero of the spartan system. Its his name that is attached to the reforms that turned spartan to what it was, and it is to those reforms, and their creation of the kind of military utopia that we will turn our attention as well.