Thucydides, 4.80. 3

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Thucydides, 4.80.3, “Indeed fear of their numbers and obstinacy even persuaded the Lacedaemonians to the action which I shall now relate, their policy at all times having been governed by the necessity of taking precautions against them. The Helots were invited by a proclamation to pick out those of their number who claimed to have most distinguished themselves against the enemy, in order that they might receive their freedom; the object being to test them, as it was thought that the first to claim their freedom would be the most high spirited and the most apt to rebel.” This account ends with the supposed death of up to 2000 Helots selected for freedom as being the most worthy by selection and acclimation.

Why does Thucydides mention …show more content…

Cartledge believes that a version of it undoubtedly existed in Thucydides day. He also goes on, ‘nor does he cite the annual declaration of war on the Helots by the Ephors, also first attested by Aristotle’.

Historically the city state of Sparta had a social hierarchy that was different from many of its neighbours, it was unique in ancient Greece for its social system and constitution, which completely focused on military training for the male citizens. Its citizen inhabitants were classified as Spartiates (citizens, who enjoyed full rights), Mothakes (non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans), Perioikoi or Perioeci (freedmen), and Helots (state-owned serfs, enslaved non-Spartan local population). Spartan society was ruled by two kings originating from the two ruling families, whose powers were checked by a council of elected Ephors or elders. These Ephors/elders were chosen from the ‘Spartiates’. Below this class was a middle class which was called the Perioeci. The lowest class, which was also the largest, was a group known as the Helots. The Helots were the subjugated population group that formed the main population of Laconia and Messenia, basically Sparta. They were tied to the land and primarily worked in agriculture to support the Spartan society and its citizens. According to a number of sources the Helots outnumbered the Spartiates quite considerably. Figueira in his article in ‘Helots, Chapter 8’, gathers all the potential ratios of

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