Ancient History: Greece : Sparta

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Ancient History: Greece

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Sparta

Who were the Helots?

Possible Answers:

Sailors in the Athenian navy

Eligible voters in Athenian democracy

Slaves in Athenian society

Serfs in Spartan society

Soldiers in the Spartan army

Correct answer:

Serfs in Spartan society

Explanation:

In ancient Greek society, the Helots were agricultural slaves (or serfs) who were tied to the land and did all the hard labor in Spartan society. Helots made up the vast majority of the inhabitants of Spartan territory.

Example Question #2 : Sparta

Which of these best describes the role of Ephors in Spartan society?

Possible Answers:

Soldiers who fought in the Spartan vanguard

Women who were chosen to serve as acolytes for religious leaders

Elected leaders who oversaw the actions of Sparta’s Kings

Slaves who worked the fields and did most of the household work

Religious leaders who interpreted signs from the Gods

Correct answer:

Elected leaders who oversaw the actions of Sparta’s Kings

Explanation:

In ancient Spartan society there were generally two Kings and five elected Ephors. The Ephors were elected by the body of eligible voting citizens in Sparta. Their primary responsibility was to oversee the actions of Sparta’s Kings. They were also responsible for enforcing Sparta’s laws and were the leading judicial authority in Spartan territory.

Example Question #3 : Sparta

How did the Spartan legal code differ from most other Greek city-states?

Possible Answers:

It required its citizens to pay income tax.

It abolished all forms of slavery.

It was not codified.

None of these answers are correct; the Spartan legal code was similar to most other Greek city-states.

It was based on religious custom.

Correct answer:

It was not codified.

Explanation:

The Spartans, like many other Greek city-states, formulated an extensive legal code over several centuries, beginning in the early Archaic Era. However, unlike other city-states, the Spartan legal code was never codified and written down. Instead, it was passed on and preserved and strengthened from generation to generation as a sort of universally understood system of laws. Not unlike English “common law” of the Medieval period.

 

Example Question #4 : Sparta

Which of these forms of government prevailed in Sparta for most of its history?

Possible Answers:

Democracy

Tyranny

Monarchy

Oligarchy

Theocracy

Correct answer:

Oligarchy

Explanation:

For most of its history as a powerful city-state, Sparta was ruled by two kings and a body of wealthy aristocrats. The presence of the two kings might suggest that Sparta was a monarchy, but in actuality the government was administered by a group of five oligarchs known as ephors and an assembly of dozens of officials called “the council of elders.”  

Example Question #5 : Sparta

Which of these best describes Sparta’s relationship with literature, art, and entertainment?

Possible Answers:

Although literature and art were considered frivolous in Spartan society, the government tried to promote artistic endeavor so as to match the fame and accomplishments of Athens.

The Spartan oligarchy forbade any male individual from engaging in artistic pursuits because these were deemed a waste of time.

Literature and art were heavily encouraged by Spartan social values.

The Spartans allowed minimal freedom of expression and only allowed literature and art that promoted Spartan social values and obedience to the law.

None of these answers accurately describes Sparta’s relationship with literature, art, and entertainment.

Correct answer:

The Spartans allowed minimal freedom of expression and only allowed literature and art that promoted Spartan social values and obedience to the law.

Explanation:

Spartan society, during the Archaic and Classical periods, emphasized strength, loyalty, and obedience above all other qualities. Centuries of warfare and the enslavement of neighboring peoples had won Sparta many enemies. As a result, all members of Spartan society were trained and educated to be vigilant, disciplined, and devoted to the protection of Sparta from her many rivals. This naturally meant that literature and art was discouraged in Spartan society, especially as Sparta grew more powerful. The literature and art that was allowed was almost always designed to promote Spartan social values and to encourage obedience to the law.

Example Question #6 : Sparta

Citizenship in Sparta was __________.

Possible Answers:

conferred on Spartan individuals at birth and given to helots after fourteen years of service

conferred on all Spartan individuals, but withheld from helots and foreigners  

available to any individual, Spartan or foreign, who was willing to serve in the Spartan army

only available to the wealthy oligarchs who ruled Spartan society

a tenuous right that could be taken away if an individual was not fully dedicated to military training and the Spartan way of life

Correct answer:

a tenuous right that could be taken away if an individual was not fully dedicated to military training and the Spartan way of life

Explanation:

Citizenship in Sparta was generally conferred on all Spartans at birth. It was never extended to helots or foreigners, and even a helot who had earned his freedom could still never become a citizen. Citizenship was, however, a tenuous right in Spartan society. It could be taken away from an individual if he was not fully dedicated to military training, or if he violated the Spartan way of life. Indeed, there were several different ways in which a Spartan man might find himself deemed inadequate and not useful enough to keep his citizenship.

Example Question #7 : Sparta

Spartan boys __________.

Possible Answers:

none of these answers are accurate

were valued less than girls due to importance of reproduction and motherhood in Spartan society

were expected to work the fields and perform manual labor, rather than receive a classical education

were raised to be pious and devout and to resist the temptations of earthly life

lived in a communal barracks for most of their young lives

Correct answer:

lived in a communal barracks for most of their young lives

Explanation:

Spartan society emphasized martial prowess and military discipline above everything else. Spartan boys were generally taken from their family home at the age of seven. They were then expected to live in a communal barracks for the rest of their young lives. Their life was geared around military training.

Example Question #8 : Sparta

Who commanded the Spartan fleet at the end of the Peloponnesian war and defeated the Athenian navy at Aegospotami in 405 BCE?

Possible Answers:

Agis

Lysander

Clearchus

Brasidas

Pausanias

Correct answer:

Lysander

Explanation:

Lysander was the most successful Spartan naval commander during the Peloponnesian War. His victories crippled the Athenian's capabilities to import grain to their city. He eventually destroyed the Athenian fleet, forcing their final surrender.

Example Question #9 : Sparta

What was an important result of the Battle of Pylos in 425 BCE?

Possible Answers:

All of these

The myth of Spartan invincibility is broken

Capture of 120 full-blooded Spartan hoplites

An Athenian garrison was established in Messenia

Spartans sue for peace

Correct answer:

All of these

Explanation:

During the Battles of Pylos and Sphacteria, 120 full-blooded Spartan hoplites were stranded on a barren island. They were forced to surrender when peace terms were rejected by the Athenians and the Athenians subsequently surrounded them. For the first time, the Spartans were defeated.

Example Question #10 : Sparta

Spartan society eventually declined during the classical era as a result of __________.

Possible Answers:

the constant invasions of Romans and Carthaginians

population loss caused by constant warfare

agricultural failure throughout Greece in the fourth century

the loss of the Spartan way of life after the Spartan adoption of Athenian culture

None of these answers are correct; Sparta became more powerful during the late classical era.

Correct answer:

population loss caused by constant warfare

Explanation:

Sparta peaked as a Mediterranean power during the Peloponnesian War with Athens. Within one hundred years, however, Spartan society had declined to the point where it was not even a regional power. The primary reason for this decline was that Sparta had suffered massive population loss from decades of near-constant warfare. There were simply too few Spartan men to keep up the numbers.

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