In ancient Greece Sparta was an independent city and was a great rival of one most popular Greek city Athens. The city of Sparta was located in the Peloponnesus peninsula that lied on the south west side of Athens. Spartans were quiet famous for their warriors. Sparta for most of the time was ruled by the oligarchy form of government in which a small group of people rule the entire kingdom.
The Spartan government followed the principle that every citizen of the state has to live for the state and their life completely belongs to the state. They also followed one more principle that only physically fit infants have the right to survive. Spartans followed quite unusual system as the division of people in classes was completely dependent on their physical strength and no-one by birth belonged to a certain class. Following is the brief description of ancient Spartan hierarchy.
- Kings and the Council of Elders
- Perioeci Class
Kings and the Council of Elders
The topmost class of the Spartans comprised of two kings who combined ruled the city. Along with the two kings there were 28 other members which constituted the council of elders to help the kings manage their responsibilities. These 28 members elected by the people were responsible for conducting court for criminal justice and advising the kings in various issues related with the state. They practised oligarchy to rule the people in which the power structure was shared by a small group of people which generally belonged to aristocratic class.
The highest class among the citizens after king was of aristocratic Spartans. After learning all the tact and techniques of warfare the Spartan boys were required to appear for a graduation test at the age of 20. The ones who clear the test were considered as citizens of the state and were given the title of aristocrats. These were responsible for military operations and possessed lands which were farmed by the lower class people known as slaves.
The Perioeci was the middle level class in the ancient Spartan hierarchy. These were the Spartans who were responsible for farming and crafting. This class comprised of craftsmen, artisans and farmers. The major percentage of people in this class was the decedent of the people who got conquered by the Spartans. Apart from fulfilling their responsibility this class was required to pay taxes and were also given chance to serve for the armed forces of the state. But this class did not have any political rights.
The bottommost class in this hierarchy was of helots. This was the class of slaves who were decedents of the people who spoke against the Spartan tradition and refused to subjugate to the laws created by the rulers. Since helots were the rebellious people, the Spartans in attempt to control them murdered those helots who were found encouraging people against Spartan rule. This was done by Spartans by forming secret societies to work against helots.