"It doesn't do to be too Spartan about these things"
The Ruins of Ancient Sparta
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe Ruins of Ancient Sparta - Credit: Thomas Ihle

 Sparta was the main rival to Athens in Ancient Greece. The city-state had a unique moral and cultural society. Two hereditary kings ruled at a time, presiding over a war-obsessed culture that shunned any form of luxury and threw 'weakling' newborns down a nearby chasm. Boys were separated from the rest of society at the age of seven and brought up in a military school that emphasised physical toughness and encouraged stealing as a form of subsistence. They were taught to speak 'laconically': briefly and wittily. As the men of Sparta were often separated from the women to engage in war with Sparta's neighbours, the women enjoyed a greater degree of power and freedom than was found in other Ancient Greek states.

The peculiarities of the Spartan way of life has rendered it a continuing source of fascination from Classical times until the present day. Machiavelli, for example, was an admirer of Spartan culture, as was John-Jacques Rousseau, and, unfortunately, Adolf Hitler.