The Spartans chronicles the rise and fall of one of the most extreme civilizations the world has ever seen, a civilization that was founded on discipline, sacrifice and frugality, where the onus was on the collective and the goal was to create the perfect state and the perfect warrior. Classical historian Bettany Hughes reveals the secrets and complexities of everyday Spartan life: homosexuality was compulsory, money was outlawed, equality was enforced, weak boys were put to death and women enjoyed a level of social and sexual freedom that was unheard of in the ancient world.
After decades of war with Athens, Sparta finally emerged victorious as the most powerful city-state in Greece and an imperial power. But a collapsing birth rate, too few warriors, rebellious slaves and outdated attitudes to weaponry and warfare combined to sow the seeds of Sparta's destruction, until eventually the once-great warrior state was reduced to a destination for Roman tourists who came to view the bizarre sado-masochistic rituals.
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