Uncle Adolf’s table talk – 7

“I have dipped into Mein Kampf but never read it: it was written only partly by Hitler, and that is the problem. More important are… Hitler’s table talks: daily memoranda which first Heim (Bormann’s adjutant, whom I interviewed) and then Picker wrote down at his table side”. —David Irving


the-real-hitler
 
24-25 July 1941

[The qualities of the German soldier - SS losses pay dividends - Weaknesses of the German High Command in 1914-18.]
 

I can say that I’ve never doubted the qualities of the German soldier—which is more than I can say even of some of the chiefs of the Wehrmacht.

The German army is technically the most perfect in the world; and the German soldier, in a moment of crisis, is safer and sounder than any other soldier. I’m truly happy that it has been granted to me to see, in my lifetime, the German soldier rewarded by Providence. For an elite force, like our SS, it’s great luck to have suffered comparatively heavy losses. In this way, it’s assured of the necessary prestige to intervene, if need be, on the home front—which, of course, won’t be necessary. But it’s good to know that one disposes of a force that could show itself capable of doing so, on occasion.

It’s marvellous to see how our Gauleiters are everywhere in the breach.

I cannot tell you how greatly I suffered, during the Great War, from the weaknesses of our command. In a military sense we were not at all clever, and in a political sense we were so clumsy that I had a constant longing to intervene. If I’d been Reich Chancellor at the period, in three months’ time I’d have cut the throat of all obstruction, and I’d have reasserted our power.

If I were twenty to twenty-five years younger, I’d be in the front line. I passionately loved soldiering.

Sparta – XV

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA

“A desperate fight remains for all time a shining example. Let us remember Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans!”

—The Testament of Adolf Hitler (1945)


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The Battle of Thermopylae as an example of heroism


This is one of the most famous battles in history. It decided the future of Europe and in it the Spartans showed the world their immense quality. The Battle of Thermopylae came framed within the context of Greco-Persian Wars, which catalyst was the expansion of the Greek presence in Asia Minor with the extension of the Greek colonies to the east. During the Greco-Persian Wars emperor Darius of Persia had been defeated in the famous battle of Marathon (490 BCE), after which Sparta and Athens signed a military pact aimed at the defense of Greece against the Persians in the near future. Darius was succeeded on his death in 485 BCE by the very ambitious Xerxes, who craved to take over large parts of Europe.

Persia was a vast reign ruled by an Iranian aristocracy, the descendants of the Medes, who along with the Persians before them and after the Parthians, monopolized, during their existence, the domain of the empire—the largest in the world—, stretching from Turkey to Afghanistan.

Persia was a united and centralized state, with vast crowds, massive and specialized armies and endless tracts of land. Its existence was already a feat worthy of those who made it possible. Although the background of this empire was clearly Indo-European, it had become an abyss of miscegenation, as it held sway over a wide variety of non-Indo-European peoples, including Jews and the descendants of the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations. The Punics of Carthage (in what today is Tunisia) in alliance with Persia were ready to strike the Greek dominions in Italy and Sicily. Europe faced foreign hordes, a geopolitical meddling and a flood of eastern blood of magnitude not seen since the Neolithic.

Greece, on the other hand, besides being infinitely smaller, was not even a state but covered a balkanized collection of city-states or poleis that often warred with each other. There was no empire: that would come with the Macedonians. The ethnic heritage was, on the whole, more Indo-European in Greece than in Persia, and the strong political personality of the Hellenic polis made of Greece the only major obstacle of the Persian conquest of the Balkans and the Danube.

In the year 481 BCE, before invading Greece, Persia sent two ambassadors to Sparta to offer the possibility of surrender. King Leonidas made them to be directly thrown into a well. This impulsive act, little “diplomatic” and highly condemnable, has an explanation. Leonidas had not been raised exactly as a Spartan prince because in first place the throne did not correspond to him. There was a king, but had poor health and did not survive so his succession fell on the following fellow in line, which had been brought up as a prince in anticipation to the health problems of the previous king. This one, however, fell in battle and suddenly Leonidas found himself in the throne of Sparta, having been raised as a common Spartan boy without the diplomatic finesse imparted in princely education. Leonidas was a soldier: blunt, simple and to the point.

It is clear, in any case, that the Ephorate did not consider just the murder of the ambassadors, as it sent two Spartan volunteers to go to Persia, submitted to Xerxes and offered as sacrifice to “atone” for the injustice that Leonidas committed against the ambassadors. Xerxes rejected the offer and let them go. He did not make a similar mistake, or get his hands dirty with blood or being found guilty of dishonor. The Athenians were more sensible: when the Persian ambassadors made their bids, they simply declined.

That same year, Xerxes sent emissaries to all the Greek cities except Sparta and Athens, to get their submission. Many, terrified of his power, subjected while others, prudently, remained neutral although their sympathies lie with Greece. Sparta and Athens, seeing that an anti-Hellenic alliance was emerging, called for the other cities to form an alliance against Persia. Few responded. Persia was the new superpower, the new star. Its sweeping advance was a fact and its ultimate triumph, almost a given.

Persia began shipping its army, the largest in the world, and moved to Europe to conquer Greece. According to Herodotus, the Persian army consisted of 2 million men. Today, some have reduced this figure to 250,000 or even 175,000 men (including 80,000 cavalry), but it is still a massive army: a crushing and brutal numerical entity, especially compared with the tiny Greek force. As the Persian tide moved, all the villages it passed submitted without a fight.

Hellenic allies then met in Corinth. Envoys from Sparta, Athens, Corinth, Thebes, Plataea, Thespiae, Phocis, Thessaly, Aegina and others, parleyed on the strategy. They formed the Peloponnesian League, confirming the Hellenic alliance to boldly resist Persia. All Peloponnese poleis (excluding Argos, a traditional and stubborn enemy of Sparta) joined the alliance. The league was put in command by Sparta; Leonidas was made commander in chief of the troops of the league.

The leagues were common occurrences in Greece, and they expressed the more “federalist” trends that somehow sought unification and a proper Pan-Hellenic nation. Some leagues were created only to face a common enemy, dissolving themselves afterwards and other leagues lingered; always pursuing political goals and long-term business. The Peloponnesian League was one of these ephemeral “emergency leagues.”

An army of 10,000 was formed of Peloponnesian Greeks under the command of Sparta. Since they had agreed to defend the passage of Tempe, they were stationed on the slopes of Mount Olympus, in northeastern Greece. However, the King Alexander I of Macedon, who had good relations with Persia but felt sympathy for the Greeks and especially for Sparta, warned the Spartan commanders that the position was vulnerable by the presence of several pathways, and they decided to abandon it in favor of another more defensible position. At that time the Thessalians, considering themselves lost, submitted to Persia.

The definitive site for the defense of Greece was established in the pass of Thermopylae, the “Hot Gates.” According to legend, Heracles had rushed into the water to appease the inner fire that tormented him, turning it instead in thermal waters. The area was basically a narrow passage between the steep mountain and the sea. At its narrowest the gorge was 15 meters wide. This meant that although the Greeks were numerically lower, at least the fighters would face a funnel that balanced the scale, as only a certain number of warriors from each side could fight at once. And yet it was a desperate move, as the Greeks would soon tire while the Persians always counted with waves of fresh troops.

According to Herodotus, after coming to the sanctuary of Delphi, the Spartans received from the oracle the following prophecy:

For you, inhabitants of wide-wayed Sparta,
Either your great and glorious city must be wasted by Persian men,
Or if not that, then the bound of Lacedaemon
must mourn a dead king, from Heracles’ line.
The might of bulls or lions
will not restrain him with opposing strength;
for he has the might of Zeus.
I declare that he will not be restrained
until he utterly tears apart one of these.

Or a king of Sparta died, or Sparta fell. Consider how this prophecy could have influenced Leonidas. Suddenly, a heavy burden of responsibility on his shoulders had been downloaded. This monstrous doom, that would kill of shock most and make them sweat and shake, was received by the king with dignity and sense of royal duty. The mission of any Spartan was sacrificing his life for his country if needed. It was natural and joyful for them.

In the summer of 480 BCE, the Peloponnesian troops reached Thermopylae and camped up there. There were about eighty men of Mycenae, 200 of Phlius, 400 of Corinth, 400 of Thebes, 500 of Mantinea, 500 of Tegea, 700 of Thespiae, 1,000 of Phocis, 1,120 of Arcadia and all the men of Locris. The Athenians were absent because they had put their hoplites and commitment to the naval fleet, which also was ridiculous compared to the Persian navy. But the gang that should have received cheers and applause, the formation whose mere presence instilled courage and confidence to all military buildup, was the group that showed only 300 Spartans for battle. No more Spartans came because their city was celebrating a religious holiday, which prohibited Army mobilization. And for the Spartans, the first and most important was to make peace with the gods and not violate the ritual order of existence.

So the Greeks were together about 7,000—seven thousand Greeks against 250,000 Persians (175,000 according to other modern historians). Imagine the variety of the colorful congregation: the brightness of the bronze, the solemn atmosphere, the commentaries on foreign gangs, the emblems on the shields, the typical rivalry gossip in the military, the feeling of togetherness, respect and a common destiny. The entire camp had to be surrounded by an aura of manliness and heroism. These Greeks, mostly hoplites, were well instructed. Since their younger days they were used to handling weapons and exercise the body. However, the only “professional” army was the Spartan, because in other places the hoplites lived with their families, trained on their own and were only called in case of war; while in Sparta they were permanently militarized since childhood under the terrible discipline that characterized them, and never stopped the training.

Among the Persians, however, the situation was very different. Although undoubtedly they had the numerical advantage and equipment, most were young men who had been conscripted and had little military training. However, they had highly specialized units. Unlike the Greeks, who, conditioned by their land, had stubbornly perfected the infantry level, the Persians had a formidable cavalry, chariots and excellent archers. In the vast plains, plateaus and steppes of Asia, to dominate this type of highly mobile forms of warfare was essential. The Persian Empire also had “the immortals,” a famous elite unit composed of ten thousand chosen among the Persian and Median aristocracy that, under General Hydarnes, formed the royal guard of Xerxes. The officers also consisted of Persian members of the aristocracy.

Xerxes camped his troops at the entrance, in Trachis. Leonidas, as soon he reached Thermopylae, rebuilt the ancient wall of two meters in the narrowest part of the pass, quartering the troops behind him. Having been informed that there was a path around the pass that led to the other side, he sent a thousand Phocaeans to defend it.

Xerxes, who could not conceive that the Greeks be obstinate in fighting, sent an emissary to parley with Leonidas, encouraging him to put his arms aside. The soldier’s laconic reply was “Come and catch them.” That night, when a Locris hoplite of defeatist tone commented that the cloud of Persian archers’ arrows would darken the sky and turn the day into night, Leonidas answered: “Then we’ll fight in the shade.”

The next morning, the troops appeared in ranks of formation. The Persians had gathered thousands of Medes and Kysios (Iranian peoples) and stationed at the entrance of the pass. At first, their orders were to capture alive the Greeks, as the Emperor thought he could place chains on them and display them in Persia as trophies, the style of the later Roman triumphs. Leonidas, meanwhile, made the Greeks form in the narrow gorge, and took his royal position at the right end of the phalanx. He decided not to mix the different peoples of his contingent. In his experience the soldiers preferred that well-known comrades died beside them, and it was more difficult that they fled in combat if those who they abandoned were lifetime family and friends. Leonidas put his Spartans to the front of the formation, as a spearhead. They would be the first to engage.

300SpartanWarriors

Ominously the Persians advanced and entered the gorge. The Spartans sang the paean with religious solemnity. When the Persians began raiding with terrifying shouting, the relentless meat grinder of the Spartan phalanx began to operate silently. The Persians crashed into the wall of shields with a deafening roar, waving their arms and finally skewering into the Spartan spears. Imagine the sight of that.

The blood that had run, the orders at the top of lungs, the cries of war and of pain, he cuts and stabbings, the reddened spears in and out rhythmically as sinister spikes from the shield of breastplates splashed with blood, attacking accurately the weaknesses of poorly protected enemy bodies; the shocks and bumps, the terrible wounds, the bodies of the fallen and the Spartans maintaining calm and silence in the midst of the confusion and the terrible din of battle; the Persians, brave but ineffective, immolating themselves in a glorious feat. The Spartans seemed to be everywhere, and there they were, inspiring the other Greeks to imitate them, pointing out that victory was possible and stirring the moral. By their conduct they were proving that their socialism of union and sacrifice was clearly superior to any other political system, and that they were better prepared to face the Iron Age.

Unlike Leonidas, Xerxes did not fight. Sitting on his throne of gold, located in a suitable place, he watched with horror what was happening: his troops were being slaughtered catastrophically. The Persians had much lighter and ineffective armor than the heavy Greek cuirass, as the type of Persian fight was based on mobility, speed, fluidity and flexibility of large crowds, while the Greek was organized resistance, accuracy, coordination, diamond hardness and willingness to stand together as one compact rock before the onslaught of the ocean waves. Furthermore, the Persian spears were shorter and less stout, and could not reach the Spartans with ease. They fell by the hundreds, while the Spartans were barely injured. The best Persian officers fell when, going by the head of their troops, tried to inspire them and were wounded by Hellenic weapons. When Leonidas ordered to relieve the Spartans, passing other units into combat, the situation continued: the Persians fell massacred. It is said that three times Xerxes jumped from his throne to see what was going on, perhaps as a football coach sees his team thrashed. Leonidas would only say, “the Persians have many men, but no warrior.”

General Hidarnes removed the contingent of Kysios and Medes, discovering a floor mangled with corpses. Then he made enter his immortals in combat, convinced that they would change the course of battle. Leonidas ordered his Spartans to be on the forefront again. The immortals advanced impassively on the bodies of their fallen compatriots and furiously rammed the phalanx. The Spartans suffered some casualties, but their formation did not break. For their part, the immortals were pierced by long spears and fell by the dozens, wounded and dead. Many fell into the waters of the Gulf of Malis, where many, for not knowing how to swim, or sunk by the weight of their weapons and armor, were carried by ocean currents and drowned.

The Spartans implemented their more tested and complicated tactics, demonstrating the perfect instruction they alone possessed. They opened gaps where unsuspecting enemies penetrated, only to be shut down and massacred by rapid spears poking from all sites. Other times they simulated panic and retreated in disarray, after which the Persians emboldened, pursued in disarray. But the Spartans, displaying their mastery in close order, turned quickly returning to phalanx form, each taking place at the last moment and terribly reaping the Persian ranks, sowing the ground with corpses and watering it with their blood. So passed a whole day. When evening came, the fighters retreated and had their rest. It was considered bad luck fighting at night (it was more difficult that the dead found their way to the afterlife). The Greeks were exhausted but in high spirits. The Persians, on the other hand, were fresher but their morale hit rock bottom. They must have wondered if they were as bad or if it was the Greeks who were so good.

The next morning the fight resumed. Xerxes commanded fresh Persians, hoping that maybe they made a dent in the exhausted Greek defenders. Nothing was further from reality: wave after wave, the Greeks massacred the enemy again. The terror began to spread among the Persians. Many times they tried to escape the Spartans, and the officers lashed them with whips to force them to combat.

At that point, Xerxes had to be amazed and desperate at the same time. Its fleet had failed to defeat the Greek fleet at Cape Artemision, and he could not outflank Thermopylae by sea. Then came the betrayal, the heroes’ curse. A local shepherd named Ephialtes asked to speak to Xerxes and, in exchange for a hefty sum of money, he revealed the existence of the road that skirted the ravine, in a process archetypally similar to what happened many centuries later in the fortress of Montségur of the Cathars. General Hidarnes, in command of the immortals, crossed the road guided by Ephialtes. When he saw at the distance a few Greeks ready for the fight, he hesitated and asked Ephialtes if they were Spartan. He told him they were Phocis, and Hidarnes continued. Since then, the die was cast: the Greeks were doomed. They were going to lose the battle to death.

Leonidas, meanwhile, received messengers (probably repentant Thessalians fighting under the Persians) who informed him how they would be surrounded by the enemy. The Greeks took counsel immediately. Leonidas knew already that he would lose the battle. He ordered all the Greeks to retire except his Spartans and the Thebans. The Thespians, led by Demophilus, decided to remain on their own will, and so they did, covering their small town with glory. When only Spartans, Thebans and Thespians remained (1,400 men at first, less than the casualties suffered during the fighting), the troops breakfasted. Leonidas told his men: “This is our last meal among the living. Prepare well friends, because tonight we will dine in Hades!”

The Greeks formed, this time together, the phalanx. Before them, the vast army; and the immortals to their rear. Instead of attacking the immortals to perhaps defeat them and fight their way to the withdrawal (which would be useless because it would open the Greek doors to the Persians), Leonidas ordered to attack the bulk of the Persian army, in a magnificent display of heroism and courage, with the goal of maintaining the fight for as long as possible and give time to Greece to prepare. They knew they were going to die in any case, so they chose to die heroically, showing an immense greatness. The Greeks were aware that this was no longer a resistance with hope, but a struggle of sacrifice in which the goal was a passionate and furious rush into the arms of glory; inflicting the enemy the greater damage in the process and delaying the invasion.

art_of__300_spartans_by_alexcooperart

In the middle of combat, and having killed countless Persians, Leonidas fell. Around his body, a hellish turmoil was formed while Greeks and Persians fought for its possession. Several times he fell into enemy hands and several times he was recovered by the Greeks. Eventually the body was secured by the Spartans that, constantly fighting, retreated to the Phocaean wall.

At one point, the Thebans separated from the bulk of the Greek phalanx. For long instants they fought valiantly, but in the end, exhausted, crazed and looking lost, threw their weapons and spread their hands in supplication to surrender to the Persians who, in the adrenaline rush, even killed a few more. The rest of Thebes was captured. After the battle, the Persians would mark them on the forehead with hot irons and sell them as slaves. What helped them to surrender? What did they get? Life? A life of slavery and humiliation? Would it not have been better and more dignified to die in battle, fighting to the end?

The Spartans and Thespians, meanwhile, continued to struggle beside the Phocaean wall. Under pressure and shock loads the wall collapsed, crushing warriors of the two armies. Fighting continued, deaf and ruthless. Many fell exhausted and could not raise again. Others died pierced by the enemy metal. When finally Hidarnes appeared in front of the immortals, the few Greeks who remained, almost all Spartans, climbed a small hill to defend themselves more easily. They put their backs against a wall to avoid being completely unprotected. There were less than a hundred Greeks against at least 100,000 Persians (some say 150,000 and others speak of figures far higher). There, every Greek was facing more than a thousand Persians.

The time of final resistance witnessed the most flaming heroism of history. The last fight on the hill of Thermopylae has been the inspiration for countless works of art over centuries. Probably only Spartans were left. Almost all of them were wounded and bleeding from several wounds. Their spears were broken and their shields shattered, so they resorted to the sword. Those who were unarmed after breaking or losing the sword used rocks to hit the enemy, or fanatically rushed upon him to kill him with their hands or teeth, fist, choking, breaking, hitting, crunching, tearing and biting with superhuman ferocity, in a vicious and bloody melee. Were not these men possessed by the legendary holy wrath, that of the berserkers and the inspired warriors? They well could have asked: “Why do you fight, if you will lose? You are shattered, on the brink of death and closer to the other world than to Earth. Why do ye keep fighting?” But those were improper thoughts for heroes. Their behavior far exceeded anything in this world. Reason had been trampled under the feet of the Hellenic will, which squeezed at the maximum the forces from those heroes. It was a rage that came from the above. It was blind fanaticism; an invincible, visceral, red and instinctive feeling. It was a fight to the end.

The Persians failed to reduce those brave and, totally demoralized, retreated. Then their archers advanced, and loosed successive rains of arrows that finished off the resistant. A massive, imperial army of hundreds of thousands fighting dozens (probably around a hundred) of crazed Greeks, and still they had to beat them from afar because in melee they could never win!

When the last Spartan—exhausted, delirious and bleeding, with his mind set on his wife, his children, his country and the sky—fell riddled with arrows shot from a distance, the battle of Thermopylae ended. The Greeks had lost and the Persians won. The fallen had furiously slain themselves to the last man, gentlemanly consummating their oath of honor and eternal fidelity and ascended the steps of immortal glory. In a single battle those fallen men achieved a higher luminance than what a thousand priests and philosophers have achieved in lifetimes of dedication.

To imagine the fear that this slaughter of Persians injected into the heart of Xerxes, suffice it to say that he ordered the corpse of Leonidas to be beheaded and crucified. (Similarly, William the Conqueror viciously ordered to mutilate the body of King Harold after the Battle of Hastings against the Anglo-Saxons, who also defended themselves at a high point). This is much more revealing than it seems, since the Persians had the tradition to honor a brave, dead enemy. But Leonidas had shown him something too far above his respect, something terrifying that turned upside down all he took for granted and knew about the Great West. Other Greek corpses were thrown into a mass grave. Xerxes asked, beside himself in his trauma, if in Greece there were more men like those 300 Spartans. We can well imagine what he felt when he was informed that there were 8,000 Spartiates in Sparta, brave and trained as the 300 fallen.

Let us now do a little count of the battle of Thermopylae: 7,000 Greeks against (say) 250,000 Persians. The Greek side had 4,000 dead, including Leonidas, his 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians. But the Persian side had no more and no less than 20,000 people dead, including two brothers of Xerxes: Abrocomes and Hyperanthes. That is, an army thirty times smaller than the enemy inflicts losses five times greater than what themselves suffered. Proportionally this means a triumph of 150 to 1. Comment is superfluous, although we know that, after all, the cold numerical figures understand nothing of heroism and will.

What happened after the battle? Was the sacrifice in vain? What did the fallen get? Buying time for the naval fleet and the Greek counter-offensive. The Persians continued their march to Athens, finding it empty because its inhabitants had been evacuated during the fighting at Thermopylae. The Persians sacked and burned what they could. In the battle of Salamis in the same year of 480 BCE, the Greek fleet defeated the Persian in glorious combat. Xerxes had to retire with an important part of his army, for without the fleet, logistics and supply were precarious. He, therefore, left 80,000 Persians (some say 300,000) under the command of his brother, General Mardonius, to continue with the campaign.

A few months later, at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BCE, 5,000 Spartans along with their allies, under the leadership of King Pausanias of Sparta, decisively defeated the Persians, and General Mardonius fell in combat. Persia was defeated. Greece won the Second Greco-Persian War. The sacrifice of Thermopylae, therefore, was not in vain.

The poet Simonides wrote a poem in honor of the fallen Spartans at Plataea (below, an elegiac couplet):

O Stranger, send the news home
to the people of Sparta that here we are laid to rest:
the commands they gave us have been obeyed.

What was the catastrophic possibility that Leonidas prevented? Had he withdrawn from the fight, the Persian cavalry would have attacked in mass and in the open, closing from behind and from the sides and slaughtering his troops. Persia would have conquered all of Greece and probably a significant portion of Eastern Europe; perhaps even beyond the Balkans and the Danube. (At that time there was no Vienna that would stop it.) This would have been a disaster for all posterity of ethnic Europeans.

Before parting for the fight, Queen Gorgo, wife of Leonidas, asked: “What should I do if you don’t come back?” The short answer was: “Marry one worth of me and have strong sons to serve Sparta.” In the perpetuation of the race there is no acceptable pause. The road is inexorable and the mystery of the blood is transmitted to the new heirs.

Leonidas_monument

The Battle of Thermopylae was archetypal. Leonidas (a Heraclid descendant of Heracles, ancestor of the Spartan kings) fell on the spot where, according to tradition, Heracles had rushed to the waters to calm his inner fire. There a statue was placed of a lion (an animal whose skin Heracles put on and contained in it the same name of Leonidas), and a simple inscription on a plate, “Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie.”

Sparta – XIV

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


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My brethren in war! I love you from the very heart. I am, and was ever, your counterpart. And I am also your best enemy. So let me tell you the truth!

I know the hatred and envy of your hearts. Ye are not great enough not to know of hatred and envy. Then be great enough not to be ashamed of them!

“What is good?” ye ask. To be brave is good. Let the little girls say: “To be good is what is pretty, and at the same time touching.”

They call you heartless: but your heart is true, and I love the bashfulness of your goodwill. Ye are ashamed of your flow, and others are ashamed of their ebb.

Your highest thought, however, ye shall have it commanded unto you by me—and it is this: man is something that is to be surpassed.

So live your life of obedience and of war! What matter about long life! What warrior wisheth to be spared!

I spare you not, I love you from my very heart, my brethren in war!—

—Nietzsche


War

The war for the Spartans was a real party as, during wars, they relaxed the cruder aspects of the controls and solid discipline. They permitted that the soldiers beautified their weapons, armor, clothes and hair. They softened the harshness of the exercises and allowed a less severe disciplinary regime in general, plus larger and complete meals. Consequently, for them “the war was a break from the preparing for war,” as Plutarch wrote, and this made them subconsciously prefer war to peace.

Each Spartan was a hoplite (a word that comes from hoplon, shield), a formidable war machine, a weapon of mass destruction, an elite soldier infantry: well trained, and armed and equipped with the best of his time—a weight of approximately seventy pounds.

The Spartan soldier wore:

• A two-meter spear (which also had a tip at its lower end in order to finish off the fallen).

• A shield (hoplon or aspis) of ninety centimeters in diameter, weighing nine kilos and lined with bronze. In the center of the shield a bee of natural size was painted (remember that the bee was an attribute of the goddess Artemis). They were always told that the optimum distance for the attack was that where the bee could be clearly distinguished.

• A dagger.

• An armor made of metal plates that allowed some mobility.

• A helmet designed to cover the entire head and the face with holes for the eyes, nose and mouth. It probably evolved from a more primitive model, as used by the Germans, which usually consisted of a cap that protected the face and skull; a bump down the brow to protect the nose, and two bumps on the sides covering the ears or cheeks, whose purpose was to protect the winged attacks to the head.

• Greaves that protected the shins and knees.

• A sword called xyphos which hung on the left thigh, and was particularly short to be controlled from compact rows where the hindrance of a long sword was not welcome. The Athenians made fun of the short length of the Spartan swords and the Spartans answered, “He who is not afraid to approach the enemy does not require long swords.”

The Spartan Hoplite also wore a coat. It was red to disguise the color of blood. The visible colors were, then: the red coat, the golden bronze, and the white and black crest, in some places of checkerboard design, like a dualistic sign. (The custom of wearing red textile with the specific goal of disguising the blood also occurred with the Roman legionaries and the imperial British military, the “Redcoats.”)


hoplite

This illustration of a Spartan hoplite is accurate. The arms show that the Spartan is terribly muscularly and roasted by the sun and air, since he has been permanently exposed throughout his life. The illustration has some flaws, however. The sword, which should be holstered on the left side of the hip, is absent or not visible. The bronze helmet, shield and greaves on the legs should be shiny as gold, not worn off as the Spartans beautified and polished their weapons and armor, which were clean at the time of combat. There are also extra sandals in the illustration, as the Spartans were always barefoot. And the hair color is too dark.


The Spartan hoplites were barefoot during battle because their feet were so tanned that their skin was tougher than any footwear. With them they could climb rocks and stomp on rough snow or spines without even noticing. Their shield—a most important tool and a symbol of camaraderie whose loss was a disgrace (as for the Germans, according to Tacitus)—showed off the Greek letter lambda (Λ / λ), the equivalent to the Rune Laf, representing the sound “L” as initial of Laconia, Lacedaemonia and Lycurgus; although the rune Ur (sometimes represented exactly like the lambda and symbolizing virility) may be a more appropriate “translation.” The phrase associated with this rune was: “Know yourself and know everything.” At the oracle of Delphi it was written, “Know thyself” on a temple, so that the rune Ur again fits perfectly in the Spartan context.

Let us now turn our attention to the Spartan warriors. How were the clashes? The captains harangued their men with a traditional formula, “Go ahead, armed sons of Sparta, come into the dance of Ares.” In battle they marched in tightly-closed ranks; with calm, discipline and gravity, relying on the immeasurable strength of all their instruction, to the sound of a flute and singing the solemn song of marches known as the Paean, a hymn to Apollo. It was a type of flute traversière which sound is closely associated with the infantry, especially in the eighteenth century. The sound conveyed trust, safety, lightness and a serene joy.

This close formation was called the phalanx, of which the Spartans were the greatest teachers of leading tactics that other Greek strategists considered extremely complicated. Shields formed an impenetrable wall from which soldiers, in serried ranks, side by side, shoulder to shoulder and shield to shield, stabbed and cut with spears and swords. The Macedonians and Romans (even, in their way, the Spanish troops and the armies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) inherited this form of combat that put emphasis on the close order. John Keegan, in his History of Warfare,” explains it well:

falangeCrossing a no man’s land perhaps 150 yards wide at a clumsy run, under a weight of armor and weapons of seventy pounds, the ranks drove straight into each other. Each individual would have chosen another as his target at the moment of contact, thrusting his spear point at some gap between shield and shield, and seeking to hit a patch of flesh not covered by armor—throat, armpit or groin. The chance was fleeting. As the second and subsequent ranks were brought up short by the stop in front, the phalanx concertinaed, throwing the weight of seven men on to the back of the warriors engaged with the enemy. Under this impact some men inevitably went down at once, dead, wounded, or overborne from the rear.

polished spartansThat might create a breach in the shield wall. Those in the second or third ranks strove to open it wider with their spears, thrusting and jabbing from their relatively protected position at whoever they could reach. If it widened, there followed the othismos, ‘push with shield’, to widen it further and to win room in which swords, the hoplite’s secondary weapon, might be drawn and used to slash at an enemy’s legs. The othismos was the most certain method, however: it could lead to the pararrexis or ‘breaking’, when the most heavily beset by the enemy’s pressure began to feel the impulse to flight, and either broke from the rear ranks or, more shamefully, struggled backward from the point of killing to infect their comrades with panic also.

As we see, it was a kind of war requiring very good preparation; a methodical fighting type that contrasted with the previous “barbarian” combat: more open, freer, individualistic and furious. The evolution of war marked the evolution of the people. They had discovered that they were stronger together and well coordinated, as if they were a single entity, a god.

All the changes of direction or attack were communicated by the music of the fifes. Today, in the military close order, orders can be given with a bugle, each melody is a determined order. The closed order of modern armies is simply a legacy of the spirit of the Spartan phalanx: socialist institutions to the core. In spite of the fact that close order is no longer the key to success in combat, it is undeniable that it reinforces collective coordination, camaraderie, pride, the esprit de corps and ceremonial rituals that so matter in our day, and the difference that converting a set of men into a unit can make.

The battles were bloody and cruel. Obviously, the fighting was hand to hand and the attacks made by cutting or piercing through the body with sharp edges or tips of extremely sharp metal blades, which caused terrible injuries and mutilations. As a result, many suffered war wounds or were maimed. What did these crippled do in a state like Sparta? They just turned up in the battle with the greatest fanaticism to accelerate their own destruction and the arrival of glory. It was normal to see mutilated veterans (remember Miguel de Cervantes), blind, lame or maimed in the ranks of Spartan combatants. A stranger asked a blind hoplite why he would fight in such a state. The blind man said that “at least I’ll chip the sword of the enemy.”

The Spartans marching into battle always received the shield from their mothers, who delivered them with the severe words, “With it or on it”: back with the shield or on the shield, victory or death; because if someone fell in battle the comrades carried the body, and then his ashes, on the shield. (The Spartans, like all Indo-Europeans from Scandinavia to India, practiced cremation burial ritual.) The shield was thus a lunar symbol equivalent to the cup, which collects the solar essence of fallen hero and, as a cup, related to the archetype of the woman. In fact, a woman delivering the shield is a fairly common archetypal motif in European art of all eras. The shield had, as a talisman, the power to protect not only ourselves but the comrades in arms, so it should be considered almost magical.

The doctrine of loyalty, war, and resurrection of the hero allowed the Spartans to march to the fiercest fighting with a calm serenity and joy that nowadays few would understand and many repudiate. Knowing that they would be unable to do such a thing what is left is vilifying the one who, for self-worth and inner will, was capable of doing it. Before the fighting, tranquility was obvious among them: some combed, cleaned or carefully tended their hair. Others brightened their breastplates and helmets; cleaned and sharpened their weapons, made athletic exercises or measured each other in boxing or wrestling. Even before the legendary battle of Thermopylae, the Persians observers reported an astonished Xerxes that the Spartans were fighting among themselves and combing the hair.

Camaraderie, forged in difficult situations, even in the face of death, was an important part of Spartan society, as it reinforced the union and mutual confidence. The cult of strength, competition and manhood made the comrades in arms to exceed and protect each other. Often an adult men took under his wing a young person or child, although in this case the relationship was like that of the master and pupil, as was the relationship between Achilles (the young, temerarious and vigorous hero) and Patroclus (his prudent and wise mentor, older than him): a relationship that without any justification has been classified simply as homosexual by certain media groups. Something similar to the defaming process of the Achilles-Patroclus relationship has occurred regarding lesbianism. The way that our current society averts healthy people from the Greek ideal, the Indo-European ideal, is to ridicule it and claim that homosexuality was absolutely normal in Greece by means of pulling out from the sleeve sodomite and lesbian relationships from any reference of fellowship, mastership, devotion and friendship. And this is where modern historiography, clearly serving the interests of social engineering, has gotten his big nose.

The pace of life that the Spartan male bore was of an intensity to kill a herd of rhinos, and not even the women of Sparta would have been able to stand it. Thus the world of the Spartan military was a universe in itself—a universe of men. On the other hand, the intense emotional relationship, the cult of virility and the camaraderie that existed between teacher and student, in phalanx combat and throughout society, has served to fuel these days the myth of homosexuality. On this, Xenophon wrote:

The customs instituted by Lycurgus were opposed to all of these [what other Greek states did, nominally Athens and Corinth]. If someone, being himself an honest man, admired a boy’s soul and tried to make of him an ideal friend without reproach and to associate with him, he approved, and believed in the excellence of this kind of training. But if it was clear that the attraction lay in the boy’s outward beauty, he banned the connexion as an abomination; and thus he caused lovers to abstain from boys no less than parents abstain from sexual intercourse with their children and brothers and sisters with each other. (Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, 2).

The relationship between man and teenager in Sparta was that of teacher-student, based on respect and admiration, and was a workout, a way of learning, instruction in their own way. The sacredness of the teacher-student or instructor-aspirant institution has been challenged by our society for a while, just as the mannerbünd. Yet, both types of relationships are the foundation of the unity of the armies. Today, children grow up in the shadow of the feminine influence of the female teachers, even through adolescence. It is difficult to know to what extent the lack of male influence limits their wills and ambitions, making them gentle beings, malleable and controllable: what is good for the globalist system.

Others spoke about the Spartan institution of love between master and disciple, but always made it clear that this love was “chaste.” The Roman Aelian said that if two Spartan men “succumbed to temptation and indulged in carnal relations, they would have to redeem the affront to the honor of Sparta by either going into exile or taking their own lives” (at the time exile was considered worse than death).

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It is noteworthy that if homosexuality was indeed so natural to the original Hellenes as it was for the Greeks of decadent states, Hellenic mythology would be infested with explicit references to such relationships, which is not, as homosexuality was a plague outside the Hellenic spirit that appeared when Greece was already declining. By the time of Plato, for example, homosexuality was beginning to be tolerated in Athens itself. However, ancient and even some modern authors make it clear that Sparta did not fall in this filth.

The fallacy that homosexuality was “traditional” and well regarded in Greece is refuted in detail in the article “El mito derrumbado.”

Sparta – XI

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


“Now once it had struck me that Sparta, despite having one of the lowest populations, had nonetheless clearly become the most powerful and most famous in Greece, I wondered how this had ever happened. But I stopped wondering once I had pondered the Spartiate institutions, for they have achieved success by obeying the laws laid down for them by Lycurgus.”

—Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians


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The government

The Spartan power was not a cold bureaucratic machine in the dark about passions and impulses. It was a spiritual being that had taken root in the soul of every Spartan that was alive and had a will. Spartan leaders measured their quality in that they were able to be worthy of being receptacles and transmitters of such will, which was precisely the aim of their training and their discipline: to become the tools by which the Spartan state, intangible but irresistible, materialized on Earth and expressed its will.

The whole organization of Sparta was such a unique and exemplary power that it deserves that we focus now on its various separate political institutions, after having addressed nurture, education, the military and marriage, which were themselves institutions.

A) The dyarchy. The Spartan government was headed by two kings who ruled together. Being heads of the political, military and religious power, they carried out the jobs of chief priests and leaders of the Army. This curious sign of two-headed power came out not only because this way a king controlled the authority of the other, but as a symbolic stroke (remember Romulus and Remus) of the ancient, mythical kings.

In the case of Sparta, both kings were symbolically related in religious worship with the mythical twins Castor and Pollux, supernatural giants endowed with overdeveloped senses; sons of Zeus and members of the männerbund of the Argonauts that, mythologically, were the first monarchs of the country.

Each king chose two representatives to the oracle of Delphi. In wartime, only one of the kings was with the army, while the other remained to rule in the city. The belligerent king was obliged to be the first to go to war and the last to return. In combat, he also stood in the place of greatest risk—in the first row on the far right of the phalanx. (In the first row of the phalanx, composed exclusively of officers, the shields formed a wall. As the shields were wielded with the left arm and the weapons with the right, the shield protected the wearer’s left side and the right of the adjacent comrade. It was a great symbol of fellowship, for the protection of the right side depended on the adjacent comrade. However, the warrior who was on the extreme right of the shield lacked a partner to protect his right side, so he should be especially bold: it was the royal post.)

It was tradition that the king and the commanders who made war surround themselves with an elite guard of 300 selected men, the Hippeis. It is said that a Spartan aspired to this body and, inexplicably, was glad when he was informed that he had not been admitted. A foreigner, unaccustomed to the Spartan ways, asked why he rejoiced and the Spartan answered, with the utmost sincerity, that he was glad that his country was well protected if you had three hundred men better than himself.

spartan-wrestlingIn the elite guard there always was at least one Spartan that had been crowned victor in the Olympic games, and certainly there was no lack of champions in Sparta, as in the various Olympic games from 720 BCE to 576 BCE of eighty-one known winners, forty-six—more than half—were Spartans; and of thirty-six winners of foot races, twenty-one were Spartans. And Sparta was the least populous state in Greece and its men were not “professional” athletes specializing in a particular discipline, but full-time soldiers for which overall athleticism was a mere hobby. There was a Spartan wrestler who someone attempted to bribe to lose in a competition during the Olympic games. Having refused the bribe and winning the fight, he was asked: “Spartan, what good has earned your victory?” He responded with a smile from ear to ear: “I will fight against the enemy next to my king.” The victors in the Olympic games were regarded as touched by the gods.

The first kings of Sparta were the twin sons of King Aristodemus; henceforth, every king came from an ancient and legendary Spartan family, that of Eurysthenes and Procles, both claiming descent from Heracles, although Eurysthenes was more revered by virtue of his greater antiquity.

Strange as it might seem, in all Hellas Spartan monarchy was regarded as the oldest in the world: a very remote descendant of a line going back to the very gods and the ancient, “among the snow” hyperborean homeland of the distant ancestors of the Hellenes.

The princes were not educated in the standard Agoge like the other Spartan children. Their education strongly emphasized military skill and strategy, but added the notions of diplomacy and political thought. In addition, the princes were allowed to double food rations of the rest of the people.

In short, the monarchy of Sparta had a mystical and sacred character that permeated their subjects and inspired self-improvement. The kings were regarded as the embodiment of all that Spartan people had as divine.

B) The Ephorate. Under the kings—although in practice even more powerful—was a five ephoroi cabinet (ephors, or “guards”) called Ephorate. Originally they were the high priests of each of the five villages, districts or military garrisons that formed the archaic Sparta, but their power gradually escalated once Lycurgus disappeared; they somehow became to replace him.

The Ephorate was the most powerful institution of Sparta. It ran eugenics, parenting, education, the military and foreign policy, and also had the power to veto any decision from the Senate or the Assembly. They served as supreme judges and presided the diplomatic meetings and assemblies. Two ephors always accompanied the king in season, and had the power to call the kings to their presence in order to seek explanations for their behavior if they acted wrong. They even had the power to arrest or depose them if necessary if an offence was committed, but they needed divine authorization through an oracle. The ephors, who were elderly veterans selected for their prestige and wisdom, did not even stood up in the presence of kings, and it could be said they were their “overseers,” ensuring that no king was asleep in the laurels or fell into tyranny.

C) The senate. Under the ephors was the Gerousia, the senate or council of thirty lifetime gerontes, including the two kings and twenty-eight other citizens who have passed the age of sixty, selected among the volunteers from prestigious and old Spartan families. The Spartan senate tradition came from the thirty military chiefs who swore allegiance to Lycurgus during his coup.

gerusia-esparta

D) The assembly. Called Apella or Ecclesia, this assembly was a popular body that included all Spartan males over thirty years, who elected the members of the Senate and the Ephorate. Sometimes they could approve or veto the decisions of the Senate, although they had no right to question the decisions of the ephors.

E) On the elections. It has been mentioned the existence of elections to choose leaders. These elections had nothing to do with the current elections, where the fashionable whim of a sheepish majority imposes an anonymous, and therefore cowardly vote lacking responsibility and maturity. In Sparta the ratings were made by acclamation: the candidate who received the most overwhelming cheers and the most tumultuous applause triumphed. (Schiller wrote: “the votes should be weighed, not counted.”) Contrary to what it may seem, this method is smarter than the incumbent democratic, insofar as it empowered the candidate who always had the loyalty of the citizens, or at least its most determined mass, which is what matters.

Do not forget that this citizenship had nothing of a mob since it was made up only of the Spartan males of more than thirty years whose loyalty, righteousness and strength were more than proven over twenty-three years of enormous sacrifices and privations. In case of doubt, they resorted to a simple method: supporters stood to one side, and the other to the other side. So the vote was direct and those responsible could be called into account, in case of wrong decision.

F) Nomocracy: the kings obeying the law. All these institutions and methods were certainly unique arrangements. Plato, speaking about the Spartan power said:

Megillus: And yet, Stranger, I perceive that I cannot say, without more thought, what I should call the government of Lacedaemon, for it seems to me to be like a tyranny—the power of our Ephors is marvelously tyrannical; and sometimes it appears to me to be of all cities the most democratical; and who can reasonably deny that it is an aristocracy? We have also a monarchy which is held for life, and is said by all mankind, and not by ourselves only, to be the most ancient of all monarchies; and, therefore, when asked on a sudden, I cannot precisely say which form of government the Spartan is (Laws, IV, 712).

The Spartans, however, didn’t split hairs and called their form of government Eunomia, that is, good order. They also called their system Cosmos as it was everything they knew: it was the world in which they moved and was unique with respect to all other systems.

King Archidamus II of Sparta, the son of king Zeuxidamus, when asked who was in charge of Sparta, responded: “The laws, and the judges according to the laws.” But these laws were not written down at all, but in the blood and the scars of the children of Sparta. They dwelt within men after a long process of training and internalization that made them suitable depositories. They were not girded dogmas blinded to the exceptions, but were perfectly flexible and adaptable to various cases. The kings voluntarily submitted to the laws, as they were considered a gift that the gods themselves had done to Sparta through the Lycurgus mediation.

In conclusion, in Sparta Lycurgus’ laws governed, a sort of nomocracy (as formerly in Brahmanic India or as Judaism to this day), so they made sure that Lycurgus in Sparta continued to rule even centuries after his death.

Sparta – IX

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


“To breed, to bleed, to lead.”

—the law of the English aristocracy of old

“Nature has made it the calling of the young, strong, and handsome men to look after the propagation of the human race; so that the species may not degenerate.”

—Schopenhauer


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Adult life

At age twenty, after thirteen years of an atrocious training that tanned their bodies for the rest of their lives, with scarred skin and crossed backs for the whipping, young Spartans reached the critical point in their lives. In case they did not successfully pass the final phase of instruction they became perioeci or perioikoi. The others were destined for a solemn ceremony in which the diverse military communities called Syssitias (which could be defined as communal meals, guilds or Army clubs), formed to recruit members among the recently promoted. The Syssitias had from fifteen to twenty members. Some had more prestige than others, and they tried to keep up their fame by recruiting the new “promotion”. Evaluating a candidate took into account his reputation, his toughness, his skill with weapons, his courage, his audacity, his presence, his fitness and intelligence.

The candidate presented in the table of the Syssitia he aspired to join. Syssitia members then deposited small pieces of bread in an urn. The contents of the urn were inspected, and if only one of the pieces had been deliberately flattened by one of the members, the candidate was rejected. Often it was the case that the best young, the most promising and famous, were disputed by several prestigious Syssitias, while the less remarkable were incorporated into the less demanding. In any case, it was rare that a young Spartan was denied entry to any Syssitia. But in the unlikely event of being rejected by all, the young man in question became hypomeion (inferior). An outcast ate alone because of being rejected even by the most mediocre Syssitias necessarily implied that the candidate was undesirable for his comrades. He had the option to clean his honor through courageous deeds, or to fall in battle.

Joining a Syssitia meant that the member happened to be accepted by their peers as a Spartiate with all obligations, but would not acquire full citizenship rights until age thirty. That is, after thirteen years of training and after entering the Army, there were still ten years of “probation” which coincided with the period of greatest biological flourishing.

Note that the criterion of the age of majority at twenty, as well as some other issues such as purity in matters of sex, was shared by the Germans. Julius Caesar said about them in Gallic Wars:

From childhood they devote themselves to fatigue and hardships. Those who have remained chaste for the longest time receive the greatest commendation among their people: they think that by this growth is promoted… And to have had knowledge [sex] of a woman before the twentieth year they reckon among the most disgraceful acts. However, there is some hypocrisy in them in body issues, since men and women bath naked together in rivers and in their dresses so much of the body remains naked.

What is said here is exactly valid also for the Spartans who, as Indo-Europeans of tradition, drank from the same sources as the Germans. From an early age there was suffering, stimuli, glory and camaraderie to clear the path to manhood when it arrived, following aidos morale (“modesty”, “decency”). And even when maturity had arrived sexual abstinence was maintained until the young man was spiritually able to take control of his instincts. The end of all the preparatory stages was to accumulate energy and testosterone to grow; to complete without interference the biological alchemy that takes place in the male body during this stage.

In each Syssitia the member was required to provide food, in the form of barley, wine, cheese, flour, figs, quinces and other fruits. If the member failed repeatedly to provide rations he was expelled from the Syssitia and degraded to perioeci or hypomeion. It was easy to get rations: they came from the parcel of land (kleros) that each soldier was assigned, a plot of land that he almost never saw, worked by helots and managed by his wife. Throughout all the state Sparta had 10,000 parcels of which about 6,000 were in the territories of conquered Messenia.

At age of twenty, therefore, after having entered these military Syssitias, young soldiers were incorporated in the Spartan phalanx. They would be part of it, if they survived, until their sixty years: gradually ascending the ladder of command, merit and experience. They would spend most of their lives committed to the Army, although their operational period would be ten years, between twenty and thirty. From thirty they were allowed to live at home with their wives and perform public tasks to become citizens and enter the Assembly. Until then, they lived in military barracks and made all their meals with their Syssitia fellows. When they had free time they supervised the instruction of the younger generation and tried to teach them useful things, encourage them for the fights to discover the capabilities of each child, and maybe even learn something from them occasionally. Other times they were given to the company of their elders to learn from them something useful, or to hear their stories and their reflections.

The Syssitias were very important institutions in Sparta, for when the men were not waging war, they were training for warring better. And if not, they socialized with their comrades in these “clubs”. Only as a fourth place were family relationships ranked. The Syssitias were presided over by a statue of the god of laughter, introduced by the same Lycurgus. There the Spartan developed his humor and his sharp and terse conversations. There, men of every age and condition mingled. It was impossible, thus, the emergence of the “generation gap” since all generations shared their experiences and concerns. There were no distinctions of wealth, only of valor itself, and the experience was taken into account when assessing a man. They were united by the fact of having passed the instruction, having had similar hardships, and being male Spartans. They were proud to be joining the phalanx alongside those who had amply demonstrated their toughness, bravery and righteousness. That was what made them brothers.

It was of immense importance that each Spartan contracted marriage and had many children, and in fact they imposed fines and penalties for late marriage and there was even a tax of bachelorhood. As for celibacy, it was a clear crime in Sparta, and it was not even conceived. They were occasions of groups of girls beating up wandering bachelor men of already certain age. Other witnesses recounted how in winter single males and females and even couples without children were stripped naked and forced to march through the city center singing a song about how fair it was their humiliation, because they had failed to fulfill the law.

Being single at a certain age—around twenty-five—was a disgrace comparable to cowardice in battle, since Spartan femininity was completely healthy, pure and trained to provide exemplary wives and proud mothers. These women were perfectly at the height of a Spartan. Under the natural viewpoint prevailed in Sparta, it was a crime that existing perfectly healthy girls a lad deprived the race of offspring. Plutarch tells a revealing anecdote about it. A famous and respected Spartan general called Dercyllidas came at a meeting and one of the young Spartans refused to relinquish his seat, as he should, “because you do not leave a child that would relinquish it [the seat] to me.” The young man was not reprimanded or punished, because he was right.

High rates of birth were favored through incentives and awards to large families, plus the releasing of communal pay of those who had more than four healthy children. This, along with the practical obligation to marry, was aimed at encouraging the multiplication of the race.

The same occurred in the Nazi SS, where we can see how they tried by all means to multiply the progeny. Like the Spartans, the SS favored the high birth rate among its members, punishing those who did not reproduce. Some single officers were even threatened with expulsion, and were given a year to get married. In other cases, when a fighter of the SS had lost all his brothers, he was often allowed a leave period to ensure a large family before returning to the front. The alleged reason was that the State was interested that his blood would not be lost for the future. This policy healed the previous genocide of countless chaste, good men in medieval Europe: particularly the members of military-religious orders such as the Templars. Both the Spartans and the SS were a sippenorden, i.e., a racial order or religious-military order: racial clans who wanted to be eternal on earth; materially eternalized through their children and their descendants.

We gather, in any case, that the Spartan population growth should not be as great as many imagine, because despite its abundant children many died in eugenic selection and childrearing, and others during the instruction or infectious diseases expected by natural selection.

With respect to the superfluous, the Spartan philosophy was: “If it is not essential, it is a hindrance.” Everything that was not necessary for survival was banished with disdain. The jewels, ornaments, extravagant designs, garish colors and other burdens and distractions, were excised from Sparta. The luxury and decor were nonexistent. To the Spartans it was strictly forbidden to trade with gold or silver, and the possession of it was severely punished, as well as the use as ornaments or jewelry.

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The Spartan state itself refused to make coins of any kind. As tool for exchange of goods (that is, money), iron bars were used (Laconia had important iron mines). They were so big, ugly and heavy that few people wanted to accumulate them, hide them, or possess them (we could add also to count them, pet them and watch over them with curiosity as did the greedy with the beautiful gold coins). Moreover, the bars were not accepted outside of Sparta. Plutarch says, referring to the Spartan “currency” that “no one could buy with it foreign effects, nor it entered the trading ports, nor reached Laconia any wordy sophist, greeter or swindler, or man of bad traffic of women or artificer of gold and silver” (Life of Lycurgus, IX).

In short, it was not easy to fiddle with this money; nor deal, bribe, steal, smuggle or enter into contracts with foreigners; nor could vices appear such as gambling or prostitution. The greedy was exposed, as it needed a barn to store his entire fortune. And if someone happened to cut the handle bars and hide them, the manufacturers of these—when it was red-hot—dipped in vinegar, which made it lose ductility and could not be worked or molded.

I cannot resist noting that the use of iron as money in Sparta is archetypal and symbolic. While other states abandoned themselves in the gold, Sparta adopted the rough metal. While other, softer states often aimed at recreating the golden age in its nostalgic narcosis, Sparta adapted itself to the hard times of the Iron Age. Sparta, really, was a true daughter of the Iron Age: a jewel among ferments of decomposition of the autumn evening light. It was in Sparta where the understanding of a type of superior wisdom was kept: not the golden and regressed and senile wisdom, but the new wisdom of iron.

Thanks to all the measures of sobriety, coarseness and austerity, Sparta escaped the cosmopolitan, false soothsayers, jewelers, merchants, liars, drug dealers and other eastern specimens, who refused to go through a state where there was virtually no money; the little that existed was an unwanted burden to his owner, and its inhabitants were all proud, xenophobic and incorruptible soldiers.

Plutarch said that for the Spartans “money lacked interest or appreciation.” Both the contempt of material and fleeting pleasures like money itself points to an ascetic, anti-materialist and anti-hedonistic society. Nietzsche repeated, like other Eastern teachers: “Whoever has little is in no danger that he will be owned. Praise that simple poverty!” The Spartans were taught that civilization itself, with its luxuries, comforts, riches, its effeminacy, lust and complacency, was a dilutional factor: something countless times certificated by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, who admired the ascendant and uncontaminated world of the barbarians, of which the Spartans were the ultimate, more refined and perfected, expression. Sparta did not have to be contaminated by this dangerous Eastern influence, first because it had the abundant labor of the helots and because, for racial reasons, it did not allow immigration and the slave trade. Sparta saw itself as the repository of ancient Greek, and especially, Dorian customs and thus they also saw the other people of Hellas—except Athens.

From age twenty-five Spartans were allowed to eat with their wives, occasionally. From age thirty (the age at which the growth hormone decays) Spartan discipline relaxed, especially on the “communal” aspects. The Spartan left, then, the military barracks and went to live in his home with his wife and children (though by now probably some of his sons would be suffering under state supervision and instruction). They joined the Assembly, a popular organism to be discussed later, performing any duty of the state, a responsibility assigned to him: like army commanders, harmost (military governors) among the perioeci, envoys from Sparta abroad, etc. They passed, then, to be citizens with all the rights and all the duties.

At sixty years old, if he came to that age and if he had the honor of being selected, the Spartan became part of the Senate. Being senator was for life. Spartan old age enjoyed immeasurable respect from the countrymen, who unconditionally revered their elders as repositories of wisdom and experience, and as a link connecting the past with the present, just as the youth is the bond that unites the present with the future. The Spartans revered the elders even if they were not Spartans. As an example of the latter we have a story that happened in the theater of Athens while some Spartan ambassadors were inside. An old man entered the theater and no Athenian rose to cede the seat, acting as if they didn’t know. However, upon arrival at their place of honor all the Spartan ambassadors rose in unison to cede the place. And then the Athenian audience applauded the noble gesture. “All Greeks know good manners,” said one of the ambassadors, “but only the Spartans behave in accordance with them” (Life of Lycurgus, IX).

Sparta – VIII

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


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The education of adolescents


We know with certainty that, at the gates of puberty, there was a brutal initiation ritual of physical and psychological type to be overcome in order to continue with the instruction. During the festival of the goddess Artemis, the altar was filled with tasty cheese. Aspiring lads had to steal as many cheeses as they could, but this must outwit a phalanx of armed lads with whips, instructed to use them unscrupulously in the task of protecting the altar. To achieve their objective, the boys must learn to coordinate and demonstrate a spirit of sacrifice and selflessness. Everyone received terrible wounds, but as the only means of defense was the older lads’ whip, it was necessary only to endure the pain as they stole the pieces. Sometimes a boy died. In Sparta there were many tests of this type, whose goal was to bring applicants to the limit to harden them up, also discarding the weak. Those who, covered in blood, bore the “ceremony” with no moan, cry pain or scream were awarded crowns of leaves and hailed as heroes for their people, acclaimed by their elders, young girls and the younger siblings, who found the triumph inspiring. Thus, the victorious became eirenes or irenes (ephebes).

From the moment following the festival of Artemis, a transformation operated in the instruction of the boys who had passed the test. They came from the gangs, receiving out a simple himation (woolen clothing) each year, being forbidden the chiton (common tunic). Discipline became stricter.

According to Xenophon, Lycurgus realized that, from adolescence, self-will is rooted in the mind of the boy. It looms in his conduct a subtle trend of insolence which marks the beginning of a selfish appetite and individualistic pleasure. Also, the stage that separates the fearful and innocent child from the wise veteran is a thin red line of imprudence and recklessness, typical of adolescence and those who, having learned a lot but not enough, tend to overestimate themselves and commit dangerous blunders. And that is the most difficult step in any learning: when you think you know “enough”.

To counter this potential pride, Spartan ephebes had to walk through the streets in silence, with their head bowed and their hands hidden, without looking around but fixing their eyes on the ground, taking a walk of monks, as centuries later would walk the perfect Manichean. Boys who would otherwise be the loudest and annoying were converted into gray and ghostly silhouettes. This, of course, was not permanent but temporary and contributed to strengthen the humility and modesty of the young Spartans; and to raise the pride of those who, after concluding their instruction, were allowed to walk with their heads held high. It also helped in the meantime that the citizens would not feel offended by the presumption of the candidates, since there is nothing to offend more a seasoned veteran than an arrogant and cocky “newbie” too proud of his achievements.

But on the other hand, the ephebes were first taught to read and write, and were taught music, dance, mythology and poetry. And, for the first time since they were seven years old, long hair was permitted: in which care they would rush, gradually getting spotless manes and feel pride of them, since the hair was “the cheapest ornament” and, according to Lycurgus, “adds beauty to a beautiful face, and terror to an ugly face.” Wearing long hair was an ancient Greek custom that somehow recalled the barbarian origins of the race. Many have given long hair, especially in the case of women, the importance of signs of fertility: nervous system extensions and tuners of spiritual capacities. Archetypically, it is the manifestation of the spiritual bell that comes from the top head of the consummate practitioner of inner alchemy, covering the entire body out. On the formation of long hair act factors such as nutrition, health, exposure to sun and air, and exercise. Thus the mane should be something like a banner of individuality, a personal identification sign denoting the health and habits of the individual.

What is clear is that for some young people who had been at age seven with a shaved head, a grown hair should have represented a sign of psychological improvement, and convey the sense of a new, more spiritual stage, less helpless and raw, less brutal. After the painful stage in which children sacrificed their hair, they had conquered the beauty and individuality allowed to their perfect ancestors. Both the shaved head like the achievement of long hair were for the Spartans two stages of an archetypal transformation process, internal and external.

The most important new material of this period was the music, which was oriented to religious, patriotic and war hymns. The songs and the singing together is something that helps the united cultivation of the spirit, to strengthen the cohesion of the collective unconscious. Each alliance of warriors always has had its songs. In Sparta there were numerous choirs, and every Spartan child should learn to sing in a chorus. In many ceremonies three groups were organized: one of old people, other of young males and another for children. When elders began singing “In the past we were young and brave and strong,” the young men continued “and so are we now, come and check it out for,” and the kids responded “but soon we will be the stronger.” A nation that prides itself always seeks that each generation is better than the previous as time goes on, like a wolf pack: the younger vigorous and impulsive generations replace the older in positions through direct action.

Great emphasis was placed in the cultivation of memory, and the young Spartans memorized ballads of the poet Tyrtaeus, who had helped them so much in the second Messenian war. As an example of the poetry of Tyrtaeus, forgive the following snippet:

Let’s advance by locking a concave wall of shields, marching in rows of Pamphyli, Hylleis, Dymanes [the three originating Dorian tribes], and waving in the murderer hands the spears. Thus entrusting us to the Eternal Gods, without delay we comply with the orders of the captains, and we all right away go to the rude fray, firmly raising in front of those spearmen. Tremendous will be the crash when both armies collide their round shields and resonate when abut each other… Well, it’s a beautiful die if you fall into that vanguard like brave warrior who fights for his country… with courage fight for the homeland and the children, and die without begrudging now our lives…

Those who dare, in closed row, to fight melee and advance in vanguard in fewer number die, and save those who follow them. Those who are left with nothing tremble without honor… Go in melee combat, with long spear or sword smite and finish with the fierce enemy. Putting foot by foot, squeezing shield to shield, plume with plume and helmet to helmet, chest to chest fight against the other, handling the hilt of the sword or the long spear… Go forward, children of the citizens of Sparta, the city of the brave warriors! With the left hold firm your shield, and the spear brandish boldly, without worrying to save your life: that is not the custom of Sparta. Make the spirit of your heart strong and courageous, and do not fall in love with life when you are fighting men.

The Spartan ephebes assiduously studied Homer, whose many verses could recite. But of course, the military-physical training did not stop ever, and was always the main subject. As they were getting older, some boys were placed in front of the gangs of younger children, either as paidonomos or mastigophora. The desire of the veteran to make the rookie suffer to perfect him and cure him, teaching him everything he had learned—and that occurs in any army—, was taken to squeeze the new generations and to excel the foregoing.

We have seen that all instruction was intended to cultivate Spartan abilities as will to power, decision-making, the pleasure of responsibility, valor, courage, bravery, stoicism, patriotism, the martial, the ability of leadership, sobriety, self-control, asceticism, austerity, sacrifice and suffering, courage, physical and moral toughness, the sense of duty and honor, fortitude, wisdom, psychological and spiritual balance; the quick wit, sharp and cold and chivalry education, character building, solemnity, respect, brevity, iron discipline, efficiency, holy obedience and aggression. A wide range of qualities very important and basic, today endangered. But all these qualities would be useless if they were not used for something; if they had no objective, a single goal. Nietzsche wrote, “It is inexcusable that, having power, you do not want to dominate.”

Any discipline, asceticism, self-control, the terrible pain, the fear, the danger, the risk, rivalry, hunger, thirst, sleepiness, exhaustion, cold, heat, discomfort, aggression, the hideous cruelty, the suffering and fighting, the beating, whipping, insults, blood splashing everywhere, the constant omnipresence of deeper death and higher life leading to a prodigious tension of life, were a wonderful and magnificent expression of how a whole lineage wanted to be: furious, and, at all costs, the absolute masters of their own collective will enthroned on Earth and mercilessly crushing any enemy that arose. Are these bad feelings? Or, conversely, are they highest and most admirable sentiments, sacred impulses that prompt to live, to fight, to destroy, to create, to renew and translate into some eternal memory? These were qualities and feelings that Indo-European humanity has lost and must be recovered.

All this is great as it is. Now then, what was the result of these qualities and these feelings? What was the result of such education? What was the result of the discipline of great suffering? The result was a man of superior type, with a cool head and insensitive to pain, suffering and discomfort, who used to think quickly in times of great danger and stress. A soldier well versed in all the arts of war who used to fight to achieve his goals; a martial man bred and trained to rule. A fearless and fearsome man, that despised his own life for the sake of his people; despised more the others, so he was hard and ruthless. A mighty stoic man also despised all material trifles of worldly life, and his only dedication were his brothers in combat, his loyalty to country, devotion to his family and wishes of divinity for his race.

A man accustomed to outdoor life, which forged an unbreakable bond with his land, which was regarded as a sacred legacy, a responsibility. A gymnast with impressive physical form, a true athlete. A warrior used to earn things by himself. Nothing done to him would break him; he was able to endure the most terrible pains and deepest spiritual tragedies as calmly as accepting the joys and triumphs. After having demonstrated the ability to obey, he earned the right to command.

spartan-boyThink of how Spartan children suffered the pain, fear, stress and exhaustion. What happened when they emerged from childhood? Into what they turned when growing and becoming men? How would the body of an adult Spartan look like? We can only imagine, but at his side the young athletes of the Athenian sculptures may seem harmless angels.

spartan boy 2The Spartan body was immediately distinguished for being very willowy, slender, dark-skinned not for race but for exposure to the sun, air, moisture; to dry, fresh and salt water, the skewers of vegetation, to stinging insects, dust, land, rock, snow, rain, hail and, ultimately, all kinds of weather. This would make the Spartan skin so stranded and hard as wood. Second, the relief of his body would be highlighted. The type of physical training had favored the development muscle mass concentration, hardness, strength, extreme flexibility and the “purging” of all grease and impurities. Thus, the Spartan would be fibrous and bulky at once, and would look lean and sharp. Vascular fat and softness would shine by their absence; blood vessels, ligaments, fibers, muscles, nerves and tendons would stand almost grotesquely and ultimately, everything would appear to be a rough, twisted, tense and compact mass of roots, branches, wires, tubes, cutting, marking and stones with the color of the wood.

In addition we can figure out that their body would be entirely crossed by many scars. The marks of the lashes would be remarkable in many areas of the skin, but especially in the back. Each Spartan should be a differential map, with different types of signs of violence. Many would lack teeth, have a broken nose and scars on the skull and face: a legacy of melee combats and brutal ball games. The height of the Spartan, what their contemporaries have told us (remember Xenophon, though he lived in an already decadent stage of Sparta), must be high if we consider the malnutrition undergoing in childhood and puberty. In Thebes skeletons have been discovered belonging to a Spartan garrison, of which 180 centimeters must be a normal height among them. Spartan’s hair was long, usually blond. They were allowed to grow beards and took pride in their care, because for them the beard was a symbol of a free and accomplished man who chooses his life. Their faces with a hard look, a strong expression highlighted by the intensely of the blue eyes bequeathed by their Dorian ancestors.

The animals are remarkable for their hardness, their instinct, their resistance to pain and hunger, bad weather, and for their ferocity. The Spartans, thanks to the energy that only comes with experience, motivation and a fanatical and methodical training, were able to beat them. Through self-sacrifice and the risk posed by blindly lunging the unknown and the extreme, they were able to answer the question of where the limits of man lay, and what man is capable when a supernatural will dwells within and take firm roots throughout his being.

We cannot even imagine how were the men of ancient times, for their ferocity, determination and toughness. Well, of them all, the Spartan was the hardest and well-made, the most perfected and stronger. The instruction of the Spartans was brutal, but in one way or another, instructors have always unconsciously intuited that that is the best way to form good warriors.

On a much smaller scale, modern armies also employ brutality toward the recruits: insults, shouting, offences, humiliation, beatings and hazing—modern initiations—help the novice to be ashamed of his former self, to get rid of it, forget it and change it to a personality that is coupled with that of his comrades: another piece of the puzzle that will become his unit. Moreover, often they are not called by names, but by nicknames (“war names”) or numbers. Exhaustive exercises, inconvenience, discomfort, suffering, fear, stress, disgust, etc., serve to sustain and promote the recruit and his humility and respect before what excels him. Only when the applicant has delivered himself as a sacrifice, voluntarily touching bottom in strenuous suffering, he may start from scratch again in a new way, with a transformed personality purged of its blemishes and tempered in the fire and the hammer of an ideal; firm, fanatic, sublime and sacred. Today only the vaguest trace of all this stoicism has reached us.

Public punishments, extremely difficult testing, the victory of each gang, good sports scores, etc., helped to reinforce the prestige of the Spartan community. A community not only has prestige for those who do not belong to it, but its members feel that same prestige internally. This morality, this esprit de corps, increased the pride of belonging to such community. The sacrifices that Sparta members underwent made everyone feel pride and honor in their contemplation. Every time a lad calmly endured a whipping session, every time another one beat a sport record, each time that, with his face torn and bleeding hands, the victorious fighter triumphed over himself and over probability, the will of each member of the community was persuaded: “such acts demonstrate the greatness of my community. I am proud to be with these men and will continue perfecting to reach their height.” And pride and elitism swelled as with fire. When called “equals” among each other, they felt mutually proud. And when a weak fell from exhaustion during a march, when another was punished for moaning in a fight or under the lashes, when another fainted of pain, when another did not return from the forest or mountain, when another died in a career or of hunger, the same iron will read these happenings: “Such acts show that not everyone has the honor of belonging to our community, but that it must be won. I want to win this honor and I am on track. And I want the weak to surrender, leave or be removed from our community for the sake of it.” That is, they dismissed those who might besmirch the honor of the word “ equal,” and such removal was a sacrifice that kept alive the flame of pride.

This group is to the amorphous collectivity what the pack is for the flock.

Sparta – VII

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA

“The discipline of suffering, of great suffering—do you not know that it is this discipline alone that has produced all the elevations of humanity so far?”

—Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


sparta

The education of children

At seven years of age—the age at which the pituitary and pineal glands begin to degenerate—, Spartan children were tougher, stronger, wiser, fiercer and more mature than most adults of today. And even though they were not men, they were already well prepared for the arrival of masculinity. At this age—five according to Plutarch—they began their Agoge, which means training or instruction. (It is intriguing how this coincided with the learning process of European medieval chivalry, when at seven children were separated from their families and became apprentices. Seven years later, at the age of fourteen, passed to be squires. And seven years later, at twenty-one, they were knighted.)

A motion process was set related to maternal influence—reminiscence of the time of delivery—, and in a single blow the other, intangible “umbilical cord” was cut, which still subsisted between mother and son. Children were torn, therefore, from their mothers and placed under military tutelage with other children of the same age, under the command of an instructor, the paidonomos: a kind of supervisor who was usually an outstanding lad between eighteen and twenty years old who would soon end his own instruction. When he was absent for some reason, any citizen (that is, any Spartan male who had already finished his instruction) could order them whatever, or punish them as he saw fit. Instruction lasted no more and no less than thirteen years, during which children were already educated and disciplined by men, in order to become men.

The Agoge is perhaps the most brutal and effective system of physical, psychological and spiritual training ever created. The education that Spartan children received was obviously of paramilitary type, which in some cases was clearly oriented to guerrilla war in the mountains and forests, for the child to fuse with nature and feel like the king predator. For all we know it was a superhuman process, a living hell almost of spiritual and physical alchemy, infinitely harder than any military training of the present because it was far more dangerous, lasting (thirteen years), exhausting, and because the tiniest faults were punished with huge doses of pain—and because the “recruits” were children of seven years.

Immediately after entering the Agoge, the first thing done to the kids was shaving their heads. Certainly that was the most convenient for those who were destined to move through dense vegetation, bite the mud and fight each other. But the sacrifice of the hair implied a kind of “mystical death”: waived possessions, decorations, individuality and beauty were renounced, even one’s own welfare was neglected (the hair is important for physical and spiritual health). The “recruits” were homogenized and given a sense of nakedness, loneliness, helplessness and of a beginning (babies are born bald), a “start from scratch,” throwing them sharply to a world of cruelty, pain, resignation and sacrifice.

This is not isolated or arbitrary. The first armies, composed of many men who had to live together in a small space, saw the need to keep the hair short to prevent the spread of lice and disease. Furthermore, a shaved head must have meant something more to them. The Egyptian priests of the highest degree, the Roman legionaries and the Templars also shaved the head as well as, to this day, Buddhist monks and numerous military units. When a group becomes uniform its members will not be differentiated anymore by their “personal” appearances or by their external differentiations, but for the qualities that protrude from scratch on equal footing with their comrades. Paradoxically, standardizing a group is the best method to observe carefully what really distinguishes individuals.

Children understood what it was suggested: giving up on themselves, just as Goethe said “give up existence in order to exist.” Only the one who does not cling pathetically to his life can live as a real man, and only one who does not cling desperately to his ego and his individuality may reach a truly consolidated and distinct character.

After shaving the head, children are organized by Agelai (hordes or bands) in paramilitary style. The hardest, more beautiful, fiercest and fanatical children (i.e., the “natural leaders”) were made horde chiefs as soon as identified. In the area of doctrine and morals, the first thing was to inculcate the recruits love for their horde: a holy obedience without limits for their instructors and their bosses, and make it clear that the most important thing was to show immense energy and aggressiveness. For his brothers his relations were perpetual rivalry and competition. Those children were treated like men, but those who treated them so would not lose sight they were still children. They were also stamped with the mark that distinguishes every fierce and confident puppy of his abilities: impatience, the desire to demonstrate and be tested, and the desire to be distinguished by his qualities and merits within his pack.

Inherent to the Spartan instruction was the feeling of selection and elitism. Would-be candidates were told they were the best of Spartan childhood, but that they had to prove it, and that not everyone was worthy of becoming a real Spartan. They got into their heads that they were not all equal, and therefore were all different. And if they were different some were better or worse or had different qualities. And, if so, the best should be over the worst, and each placed in its rightful place according to their qualities. This is why an Order was named thus.

Children were taught to use the sword, the spear, the dagger and the shield, and they marched in close formation even in rough terrain, making the movements with precision and perfect timing. A hardening, physical processes prevailed and they were delivered to many physical exercises designed to encourage the development of their strength and their latent warlike qualities: running, jumping, javelin and disc hurling, dancing, gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, archery, boxing and hunting are some examples.

To promote competitiveness and fighting spirit, and to accustom them to violence and teamwork, hordes of Spartan children were made to compete with each other in a violent ball game which was basically a variant, much freer and brutal, of rugby. The players were called sfareis (ball players). We can imagine those little shaven heads delivering each other wild jolts in every possible way, colliding, dodging and trying to fight for coordination, obtaining possession of the ball and taking it to the agreed target, beyond the opponent’s territory and over the bodies of the opponent. We almost can, also, hear the thuds, the screams, the coordination signals, the creaking of the elbows, knees, punches, the headers, the tackles and sprains there must have happened in that game that transformed characters and personalities and leaders as a smith.

In the sanctuary of the goddess Artemis took place many melee fighting rituals among the very young Spartans. They were also faced without further ado horde against horde, child against child or all against all, in fierce fights tooth and nail and clean punches to stimulate aggression, competition and an offensive spirit, to develop their sense of mastery in the chaos of struggles and to build hierarchies. It is easy to imagine the chipped teeth, crushed noses and cheekbones, bloody faces and hands, fainting and open heads in those fierce children fights. In addition, instructors were responsible for setting them on so that they measured the forces between them, provided it was only for competition and desire to excel, and when they saw the foaming of hatred to emerge, the fight was stopped. Perhaps it would have been normal that at the end of the fight the opponents would salute or compliment each other, commenting the fight among them, with their peers and with their instructors and trying to learn. In Sparta ruled that ancient cult that we may call “mysteries of the fight.”

Besides boxing and wrestling the Spartans also exercised other popular martial art in Greece: the pankration. It consisted of a mix of boxing and wrestling, similar to the modern disciplines of mixed martial arts and vale tudo, but more brutal: participants could incorporate into the bands of their fists the accessories of what they believed was suitable to increase their offensive power: some added pieces of wood, tin foil and even lead plates.

The rules were simple: everything was allowed but biting, poking in the eyes, nose or mouth of the adversary. It was also forbidden to deliberately kill the opponent, but yet many were those who died in this bloody sport. In those combats if you could not proclaim a winner before sunset they resorted to klimax, a solution equivalent to tie on penalties in soccer games. By turns, each wrestler had the right to hit the other, without the receiver being allowed to dodge or defend in any way. One who would strike the blow told his opponent what position he should take to receive the attack. The goal was to see who first fell out of combat.

Greek history gives us an example with a bout between such and such Damogenes and Creugas, which reached a “draw,” so klimax was applied. After drawing lots, the first to hit was Creugas, who asked his opponent to come down the arms, so that he gave him a powerful punch in the face. Damogenes received the tremendous blow with dignity, after which he asked Creugas lift his left arm. Immediately afterwards he inserted his fingers violently under his ribs and tore the bowels out.

The pacifists and progressives of today that praise Greece should know that force, ferocity and violence were worshiped, in addition to wisdom. The Greeks philosophized and were “civilized,” yes, but when needed (or just as a hobby) they knew how to be perfect animals. That was their duality—a duality of union, not separation, a duality that sought the perfect integration of mind and body, light in darkness, overcoming their separation.

In all the struggles, battles, competitions and games, the instructors put great attention to distinguish whether each child’s screams were of anger, stress or aggression; or of pain and fear in which case they were punished. If a boy complained to his father that he had been hit by another child, his father gave him a beating for snitching and failing to seek life: “Complaining is of no use at all: it is something that comes from weakness.” And that weakness, in a Spartan, was unacceptable. As said, all citizens had the right to reprimand the children, so that parents had authority over their own children and those of others.

Thus, each parent treated other children as he wanted others treat his, as Xenophon observed. If a child, then, complained to his father that a citizen had given him lashes, the father whipped him even more. In Sparta all was this rotund, blunt, brutal and simple. Indeed, every Spartan child called “father” any adult male, similar to when today we respectfully call “grandfather” an elderly stranger. This habit of calling “father” the grown-ups also was suggested by Plato in his Republic, a book that looks like a carbon-copy of Sparta.

P._Oxy._LII
(Old fragment of The Republic)

It is through the conquests, victories and defeats that the warrior does know himself and the enemy—in the case of Sparta, his fellows. And when a man knows himself, his neighbors and the enemy, wisdom of life is accomplished. Thus he acquires security, prudence, intuition and high confidence. Each Spartan knew his brother because surely he had fought against him, or seen him fight, or had played with him in this rough rugby, or otherwise had suffered together. His whole life was a civil war. They fought against themselves and each other, which did not mean they were no longer together: quite the opposite. This system was a useful outlet for the anger of the race, which was elsewhere tragic in fratricidal conflict, and Sparta almost harmlessly vented such aggression in competitions.

All aspects of the Spartan child’s life were regulated to increase his insensitivity to suffering and aggression. You will be put under a ruthless discipline that requires you to learn to control pain, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, fear, fatigue, disgust, discomfort and lack of sleep. You will be taught survival skills in the field including tracking, guidance, hunting, water extraction and knowledge of edible plants. This will reduce your dependence on civilization and you will be put in touch with the tradition of our hunter-gatherer ancestors of more primitive times.

To achieve all this, the strict and unscrupulous instructors used any means possible to their reach. Wear situations imposed on the young were so intense that they would probably come to a state very close to dementia, with the presence of hallucinations induced by lack of sleep and food. The mastigophora (carriers of the whip) were charged to brutally beat and even torture anyone who failed, complained or moaned in pain, so that the tasks came up perfect.

Sometimes children were whipped for no reason, only to harden them, and the Spartan boys would rather die than groan and ask why they were whipped. Spartan philosophy coincided with Nietzsche’s when they thought “Blessed is what hardens us!” There even were competitions to see who could hold the most numerous and intense lashes without shouting. This was known as diamastigosis.

Sometimes the priestess of Artemis ordered that, in her presence and before an image of the goddess, some children chosen by her to be whipped. If the ceremony-torture was not liked by the priestess she ordered the whipping intensified. These children not only had the obligation not to show pain, but to show joy. The macabre winner of the competition was he who endured longer without complaint. It happened that some died without groaning. It would be said that this is sadomasochistic nonsense, but we cannot judge an ancient custom with modern mentality.

Surely the event inculcated in the victims the notion of sacrifice for the archetype of their homeland (Artemis) and taught them to master suffering with that divinity in mind. Meanwhile, in the rest of Greece athletes underwent voluntarily lashes sessions since it helped tighten their skin and body, and purging the impurities. And Sparta was, undeniably, an athletic state. (He who has been in countries where lashes are still used as punishment will have noticed how much the unfortunate victim transpires, leaving a huge puddle on the floor at the end of execution.)

Nietzsche described the lack of pity towards the promising candidates: “I spare you not, I love you from my very heart, my brethren in war!” And in words that seem aimed at an instructor, a manufacturer of overmen, he says: “To thee one law—be pure and bright!” Compassion was the worst poison for Sparta, because it preserved and prolonged the life of all weak and dying—whether it was compassion towards themselves, their peers or the enemies. In the Song of the Lord, the monumental Indo-Iranian Bhagavad-Gita, it is written that “the truly wise mourn neither for the living nor for the dead.”

To suffer and endure pain without complaining was part of the Spartan idiosyncrasy. Boys were proud of the amount of pain they could endure through clenched teeth, and remember that Nietzsche also said that the degree of suffering to which a man is able to tolerate determines his hierarchical place. It is perfectly understandable that this kind of stoicism be interpreted as a masochistic cult of suffering, but we must avoid falling into this error of interpretation. In Sparta the suffering was a means to awaken the fighter’s instincts of a man and to liaise with his body and with Earth itself. Suffering was not meekly accepted with the head down: it was struggled to dominate it, and everything was intended to achieve indifference to suffering, unlike the masochistic cults as are some variants of modern Christianity, or the modern “humanitarian” atheist which produces sentimental and tender beings even for the pain of others.

Loyalty was a very important part of Spartan training. According to Seneca, “Loyalty is the holiest good in the human heart,” and according to Goethe, it “is the effort of a noble soul to match a bigger soul than his.” Loyalty conducted the children towards higher forms and served to make them greater. Spartan boys were inculcated into unswerving loyalty to themselves, their peers and their own Order—i.e. the Spartan state. “My honor is called loyalty,” said the SS, and it could have also been a good motto for the Spartans. For them, loyalty was an asceticism that led them down the road of the dharma, the right order, morality of honor (aidos and timé) and compliance with the sacred duty.

As mentioned, obedience was also paramount in the instruction, but to what extent was such obedience fulfilled? The answer is: it had no bounds. It was put to the test every day. A Spartan boy could be ordered to kill a helot child or provoke a fight with a partner, and it was assumed he would not ask questions but obey quietly and efficiently. He could be given seemingly absurd or unworkable orders to test him, but the important thing was that, without hesitation, he blindly and unquestioned sought the obedience of such order. Obeying was sacred and basic, because the higher knows something the subordinate does not know. In the Army it is said, “He who obeys is never wrong.” Young Spartans were constantly tested. If a Spartan boy were told to jump off a cliff, he probably would not have hesitated and would throw himself without blinking and to with furious conviction.

All this, to profane eyes, may seem exaggerated and outrageous, but the profane still do not understand what it means. When the individual is sure to belong to “something,” of being directly in the service of the divine, the orders are not questioned because they come from Above, from somewhere they cannot understand—for now. Serving a similar but higher individual is self-serving, because that control is the community of which the individual is a part. When all the pieces of a gear assume their role with conviction it gives a general sense of calm, confidence, and order, that allows men to perform the most dangerous and heroic deeds naturally.

Adolf Hitler said: “the conviction that obeying the voice of duty works for the conservation of the species helps the most serious decisions.” If something unjust is ordered it was for the greater good, and in any case questions were never asked. They were obeyed for the sake of obedience, as part of a military-monastic discipline. Obeying an order was obeying to oneself and to the clan, because the chief was an embodiment of the will of the clan. Nietzsche himself advised: “So live your life of obedience and of war!” This magic of loyalty, duty and obedience is what leads the great men to the path of glory.

DegasInstruction was outdoors. The Spartan boys were always immersed in Nature: in nature’s sounds, vibrations, landscapes, animals, trees, changes, cycles and nature’s will. They learned to join their homeland; know it, love it and consider it a home. They were forced always to walk barefoot and directly touch the earth: feeling it, understanding it, connecting directly to it as trees. The masseuses know that the feet are the “remote control” of the bodily organs. Having your feet directly in contact with the earth is, undoubtedly, an important massaging effect on the whole body—a destroyed effect today with soles and heels that rumple the natural shape of the foot at work. And not only that: walking bare feet hardened the feet as wood, and eventually the young Spartans moved more lightly on the land than those who had softened their feet with shoes, as feet are designed for that, and if presently this do not work is because we did not develop them, nor tanned them as would be natural.

In winter, Spartans children had to take baths in the icy river Eurotas. They dressed alike in winter than in summer, and slept outdoors on hard reeds torn by the river and cut by hand. The maneuvers and marches they carried out were exhausting, and would kill almost any man of our day—in fact some Spartan boys died of exhaustion. Gradually, the bodies of the boys grew accustomed to cold and heat, developing their own defense mechanisms. Gradually, they became increasingly harder, stronger and more resistant.

As nutrition, they were deliberately assigned an insufficient ration, which included the harsh and bitter Spartan black bread and the famous Spartan melas zomos (black soup), which was downright inedible for any non-Spartan. (The bitter black bread was also common in the German military of World War II.) It is said it contained, among other things, blood and pig entrails, salt and vinegar (think of the ingredients of the sausage or black pudding). Probably the ingestion of such concoction was itself a practice of self-control that helped to harden the mouth, stomach and digestive tract. Spartan food, generally, was considered by other Greeks as very strong, if not disgusting. (The development of very strong “delicacies” whose mere ingestion shows courage and resistance is a common military motif. Think of a concoction called “panther’s milk” including condensed milk, gin, popular in the Spanish Legion who sometimes even added gunpowder.)

Moreover, rough and scanty food rations moved the Spartan boys to seek their own food by hunting and gathering or theft, which they themselves cooked. If discovered in the act of stealing food they would expect brutal beating or whipping and deprivation of food for several days, and not for stealing the food which could be stolen from the helots—but for having been caught. Somehow, this reminded the tradition of “right of prey” of the ancient Indo-European hordes: ancient armies usually lacked any campaigns of logistics and survived thanks to taking it from Nature or by plundering their enemies and indigenous populations.

Sparta wanted to teach people to obtain food by their own and getting them used to this; thus adapting them to a lifestyle of uncertainty and deprivation. They lived in a perpetual state of war, and they wanted a right mentalizing. Already Xenophon said, “A hunter, accustomed to fatigue, makes a good soldier and a good citizen.” On the other hand, Sparta greatly respected the animals and like the Dorians even retained archaic cult divinities with animal parts (like the Apollo Karneios with ram’s horns), which symbolizes the condensation of the totemic qualities associated to the animal in question. Spartan boys who lived in the open should have felt identified with many of the animals around them, forging a certain complicity with them.

We know the story of the Spartan boy who, having captured a fox as food, hid it under his cloak to hide from a group of approaching soldiers. The fox, desperate, began using his teeth and claws to attack the child’s body, but he endured it without shouting. When the blood flowed, the fox became more aggressive and began to rip pieces of flesh of the child, literally eating him alive. And the boy endured the pain without screaming. When the fox had come to his gut, gnawing the organs, the small Spartan fell dead and silent in a discrete pool of blood, without leaving out a moan or even having shown signs of pain. It was not fear that made him hide his hunting, for surely that slow and painful death was worse than a lot of lashes. It was his honor, his discipline, the capacity for suffering, will, strength and toughness—qualities that in his short life he had developed more than any adult in the present.

This macabre anecdote, related by Plutarch, is not intended as an apology (after all, Sparta lost in this child an excellent soldier), but an example of Spartan stoicism, which sometimes reached delirious extremes.

With measures of food shortages they wanted to encourage the body, by being deprived from growth in the width, to have more strength and stature. (This produced results, as Xenophon described Spartans as higher than the other Greeks, although heredity also played an important role in this.) They favored the emergence of higher, compact, robust, flexible, slender, hard, agile, strong and athletic bodies; taking a maximized advantage of it with a concentrated, trimmed and fibrous-to-the-end muscles, not prone to injury and with great endurance to pain, fatigue, hunger, thirst, heat, cold, disease, shock, tremendous efforts or prolonged and terrible wounds.

Those were not bodies with overdeveloped muscles, requiring an immense diet and constant and impractical maintenance. Bodies were concentrated, whole and proportionate, designed to survive with the minimum: perfect biological machines which could be studied at a glance in every vein, every tendon, every ligament, every muscle and muscle fiber at the skin’s surface. Their strength should have been awesome, otherwise they would not have been able to live, march and fight with the full force of weapons, armor, shield, etc. Plutarch said that the bodies of the Spartans were “hard and dry.” Xenophon, on his part, stated that “it is easy to see that these measures could only produce an outstanding race and strength and building. It would be difficult to find a people more healthy and efficient than the Spartans.”

This was the most appropriate body for the fighter. Plato in his Republic, made clear that the careful diet and regimen of specific exercises that the athletes practiced made them not to surrender when suddenly they were deprived from their routines—during a military campaign for example—, as their bodies were too used to have such amount of nutrients and rely on them. In extreme situations, such bodies reacted instinctively by reducing muscle mass and producing exhaustion, weakness and malaise. At the Battle of Stalingrad many German fighters inexplicably dropped dead. It was later learned that it was a combination of both hunger, cold and exhaustion. The most affected by this death were precisely the burly and massive men, that is, those requiring more maintenance in terms of food and rest.

Wrestlers of all ages were able to understand this, among them the Roman legionaries who looked for hard, strong and concentrated bodies; and the SS, who exercised without pause, eating a poor diet that included the famous porridge oats: a porridge that so much influenced physiologically the proverbial impassivity of both the English and the Swedes. (We know that oats also influences the tranquility of racehorses, and the athletic diets usually incorporate it.)

As shown by their lifestyle, the Spartans were certainly muscular, but not overdone as far as volume is concerned. They were not massive like the body-builder monsters of today, and to be sure of what we say it is enough to see the nutritional deprivation they suffered, and the exercise regimen they had, so abundant and intense in aerobic efforts. Their level of definition and muscle tone, however, must have been awesome.

Spartan boys were taught to observe, to listen, to learn, to be discreet, not to ask questions and assimilate in silence. They were taught that withdrawal or surrender in battle was a disgrace, that all combat should end in victory or death and that, as Xenophon said, “A death with honor is preferable to a life without honor.” Or in the words of Nietzsche, “To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.”

The Spartans, like the Celtic Druids and the perfect Cathars and Templars were forbidden to do heavy manual work: their job was war. However, when giving up manual labor they also renounced the fruits of such work: They were imbued with austerity, simplicity and asceticism in all aspects of his life, eliminating anything that might soften or weaken them. Their gestures were measured, reduced, and righteous, and their manners solemn and respectful. Their houses totally lacked any decoration and had a rustic and rough look, of stone and wood. The aim was to increase the lack of need for each Spartan, his personal self-sufficiency.

In fact, they were not allowed the luxury of the language, so they spoke the right words, dryly, directly, firmly and martially. A Spartan child should remain silent in public, and if you spoke to him he had to respond as soon as possible, with elegance and conciseness, military-style. The Spartan language was like the Spartan village: scanty but of high quality. It was a language of voice, command and obedience. It was infinitely more unpleasant in sound, more mechanical, hard and rough even than the legionnaire Latin or the most martial German. The rough Dorian dialect spoken in Sparta, the “laconic,” has become synonymous with dryness and simplicity of speech.

And simplicity of speech is essential for a higher spirituality. Lao Tzu, the legendary messenger of Taoism, said “To speak little is natural.” There are numerous and illustrative examples of Spartan brevity that will crop up in the rest of this book. A good one: On one occasion in which a Spartan garrison was about to be surrounded and attacked by surprise, the Spartan government simply sent them the message: “Warning.” That was enough for men spending a lifetime in military exercising. “To a good listener, few words” (are enough) says Spanish proverb.

The Spartan laconic manners are the direct opposite to the vulgar quackery of today when many opinionated, hysterical voices blend miserably without harmony, destroying silence with nonsensical words: a silence that would be infinitely preferable to that hustle. Speech is far more important than what is accepted today. It condenses communication between people, decisively influencing the way that the individual perceives those around him, particularly his fellow-men, onto which the individual is reflected. The individual learns to know himself better through knowledge of their fellows, and the concept he has of their peers will have an echo in his own self-esteem. Nietzsche himself, a scholar of philology, attached great importance to speech, dedicating lengthy paragraphs to it.

To learn about politics, solemn manners, respect for the elders and government affairs, Spartan children were taken to the Army syssitia’s guilds (which I will describe later), where young and old men philosophized, talked and discussed about the affairs of the day. Plutarch said that for the very young attendance at these circles was like a “school of temperance” where they learned to behave like men and “trick” an adversary. They were taught to make fun of others with style, and face teasing. Should it be bad a joke, they should declare themselves offended and the offender immediately ceased. The grown-ups tried to test children to know them better and identify their strengths, and the children should manage to make a good impression and look good during those congregations of attentive veterans, responding with greater ingenuity and promptly to the most twisted, malicious and gimmick questions.

In syssitias children learned also the aristocratic and ironic humor typical of the Spartans, learning to joke with elegance and humorously. It is not strange at all that a people like the Spartans, aristocratic, solemn and martial, accorded great importance to humor and laughter—the Spartans had to be especially masters of black humor. Although the helots probably found fascinating the seriousness of the Spartans and would tag them as repressed, Spartans among them were similar; like brothers. On order by the very Lycurgus, a statue of the god of laughter decorated the syssitias. Laughter was indeed of great therapeutic importance. We can imagine the joy, the emotions and laughter that were heard in the sporting competitions, matches and tournaments of Sparta, as in the hour of playing and competing the most solemn and trained men become children.

Education, courtesy and manners were greatly appreciated in Sparta. Why was this so important? Simply because when members of a group follow exemplary behavior, respect prevails; and you want to do well to maintain the honor and gain the respect of your comrades. Further, when members of a group indulge in deplorable attitudes or decadent diversions, respect diminishes, and the prestige within the group disappears. Why earning the respect of the unworthy through sacrifice if they not even respect the spirit of excellence? The result is plain to see when those renounce to act exemplarily: one is left to soak in the degenerated atmosphere and imitates what he sees. The Spartans sensed this, and established a strict code of conduct and solemn manner at all times to start a virtuous circle.

Spartans instructors often caught the helots and forced them to get drunk, and to dress ridiculously and dance grotesque dances and sing stupid songs (they were not allowed to recite poems or sing songs of the “free men”). Thus adorned they were presented to the children themselves as an example of the damage caused by alcohol, and the undesirability of drinking too much or drinking at all.

Let us imagine the psychological impact of a proud, hard tanned Spartan boy contemplating an inferior ridiculously dressed, dancing awkwardly and singing incoherently. All this staging served for the Spartan boy to experience a good deal of disgust towards his enemies, who were taught to despise. In Sparta there was no vice of alcoholism, as a drunkard would had been fanatically pulp-beaten to the death as soon as spotted. It was Lycurgus himself who had ordered to weed the grapevines outside Sparta, and overall alcohol was something considered with utmost caution, distrust and control.

The lifestyle of the Spartan children would kill in less than a day the vast majority of adults of today. How did they endure? Simply because they had been bred for it. From an early age they were taught to be tough and strong, tanning in nature and neglecting the comforts of civilization. And the children’s bodies and spirits learned quickly and adapted easily to any situation, developing the qualities they needed to survive. Moreover, they were not allowed contact with anything that might soften them in the least, and so grew uncorrupted and uncontaminated.

As they grew, children discipline became tougher: puberty approached. Such transit, in a society as close to its tribal roots as the Spartan, must necessarily be accompanied by some kind of initiation ritual, probably in the brotherhoods to which they belonged. It is in adolescence when young people are initiated in their own incipient masculinity, and in Sparta they were prepared so that the advent of the male forces did not catch their innocent instincts by surprise. So, on the fly, and day to day, they were learning to become men without the chaotic physiological and mental imbalances currently rigged at arrival of adolescence.

Sparta – V

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA

“And only those inspiring dread can lead.”
—Nietzsche, The Gay Science


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The New Sparta

Forced to learn lessons after their very long wars with the Messenians, and illuminated by the laws of Lycurgus, the Spartans proceeded to build an army-camp nation. It was the knowledge of the power of subversion of the enemy and having been about to fall into their hands, which made Sparta what later came to be. It was the paranoia of security, the distrust of the submitted peoples, what wrought Sparta over other Hellenic states and made them surrender to Lycurgus. As the Spartans were obsessed that their subjects, much more numerous, might rebel against their authority again, they chose harden and raise a new type of man under an authoritarian, totalitarian, militaristic, incorruptible and unquestionable power that they should obey blindly. Thereafter, the laws of Lycurgus acquired their greatest splendor. This was the period from which Sparta was unique in Hellas, the period in which “something changed,” the time when the people of Sparta, quietly and discreetly, suffered the strangest of transformations.

What was precisely this mutation? Among other things, the Spartans learned to direct their aggression not only against their enemies and rivals, but primarily against themselves and their peers, in order to stimulate, purify and perfect themselves. In addition to tightening the practitioner, such behavior subtly loomed in the minds of enemies the subconscious question, “If you do this to yourself, what will you do to your enemies?” Thus was born, then, military asceticism.

The Spartans were militarized. All the people went on organizational mood. Sparta became socialist and totalitarian—understood in its original sense of a civilization organized and disciplined by a gifted elite, formed with its best sons, and based on value-blood-spiritual-biological criteria. Such socialism is something that only could have taken place in the Iron Age, as it tried to bring together what was broken, and was more like an aristocracy than a democracy. Spengler described this type of militarist-imperialist-patriarchal system in his Prussianism and Socialism, noting how this system resurfaces again and again in history, incarnating in the larger towns and leading to empires. (Spengler distinguishes four superior socialisms: the Roman Empire, the Spanish Empire, the British Empire and Prussia, which resulted in the Second Reich. We would add two more socialisms: Sparta and the Third Reich.)

The caste organization in Sparta was tripartite: warriors, “bourgeois” and slaves.

(1) The Spartiates (Greek: Σπαρτιάται, “Spartans”). The upper class was that of the Astoi, Damos or citizens: the aristocracy, consisting of Dorian Spartans of pure lineage who owned kleros (a package of land) and that called themselves Spartiates or Homoioi (the same). To be “equal,” however, one had to be part of that jealous clan. That closed, selective and elitist Order was the aristocracy of Sparta, which itself was strongly hierarchical and required as a condition of membership being born within a pure-blooded Spartan family, passing through strict eugenics (from the Greek word meaning “good birth”) and having passed awful trials during instruction. Only Spartan men, brutally trained and militarized to the core, were able to bear arms; though forbidden to fight each other in any way that was not combat. They could not afford the honor duels where men necessary fall instead of defending their country.

HoplitesThe custom of calling themselves “equal” is rooted in the collective unconscious of Indo-Europeans, as the Romans called each other “peers” like the English aristocrats, a word of the same meaning. All this reveals a sanctification of what is one’s own and similar, as well as a disregard for the foreign. In this establishment, the elite to which all the Hippeis wanted was an elite guard of 300 men under 30 years.

The Spartiates were the descendants of the old army of Dorian invaders and their families, that is, the warrior nobility of the ancient Dorians: maybe the best blood of Hellas. They formed, therefore, the actual Spartan warrior caste, where there also came all priests. The caste of citizens, including women and children, never had more than 20,000 members. They were ten times less than the helots.

(2) The Perioeci (or perioikoi) means “peripheral,” “people around,” “neighbors.” They formed the middle class, a kind of bourgeoisie. They lived in villages with local government, without autonomy in military and foreign policy, and engaged mainly in trading, blacksmithing and crafts, activities that were forbidden to the Spartans. The perioeci, then, were those who were in charge of the money and the “logistics.” They were probably descendants of the lower strata of the ancient Dorian population mixed with the Achaeans, who in turn had previously dominated the Pelasgians and were mixed to some extent with them. They also came from people who had not resisted Sparta during the process of defining the polis. All coastal cities had Messenian perioeci status. The perioeci were entitled to a small kleros, lower in quality than the plain plots of Messenia, and they often supervised the helots, acting as intermediaries or foremen between them and the Spartans. They also constituted the crew of the navy (both commercial and naval war). The intermediaries between the perioeci and the Spartans were the Harmosts, twenty Spartans who administered the perioeci. Through them came to Sparta the food, weapons and craft goods.

(3) The Helots: Also called heílotes (“captives”), were at the bottom of social stratification. Most were Messenians, Pelasgians and other pre-Indo-Europeans in Greece, or mixtures between them. Their condition was dedicated servants to work the fields in perpetuity, but allowed to have possessions, that is, private property. A fixed amount of their crops was destined for their Spartan master, and the rest for them.

The helots were legally tied to the land and were forbidden to leave the kleros they cultivated, although it was forbidden to expel them from it. As the status was not slavery, they could not be bought or sold. Thanks to these feudal measures Sparta never had to import large numbers of foreign slaves, as Athens ended up doing.

Helots mortally hated the arrogant Spartan nobility (Cinadon said they wanted to “eat them raw”), for which were often despised and humiliated. Only the unity, the savagery, the warlike character, and the organizational capacity and cruelty of the Spartan elite prevented them from being in continual rebellion. Because whenever a Spartiate ran into them they knew they were before a being who would have no difficulty in killing many with his own hands. This made the helot respect and fear the Spartiate, and Sparta was doing whatever necessary to cultivate this image. In Sparta, the castes knew each other: helots knew that the Spartans were superior and the Spartans knew the helots were their inferiors.

Helot numbers, according to the Greek historian Thucydides (460-395 BCE), ranged between 150,000 and 200,000. As markers of identity they should carry a shaved head, leather clothes and kyne: a dog-skin cap. Failing to comply to these outfits was punished with the penalty of death and a fine for the master of the helot.

Sparta – III

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


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First development of Sparta: the Messenian wars

During the eighth century BCE, Sparta, like other peoples of Hellas, was a small city-state ruled by a monarchy and aristocratic oligarchy of Doric descent. Driven by population growth and a need for resources and power, the Spartans looked to the West and decided that beyond the mountains Taygetus, in Messenia would create a nation of slaves to serve them.

The geopolitics of Laconia did not leave them much choice: they were on a rough terrain and isolated by mountains and a non-navigable river. Laconia was something like the heartland, or cardial region of the Peloponnesus: an area inaccessible to any power that used the sea as a vector to project their power. So it was well protected from abroad, but in return the Laconians could not afford to sea as the coast was steep and there was only one suitable site to establish a port at Gythium, 43 km from the capital (unlike Piraeus, which was very close to Athens). Therefore, they could not follow the example of the Athenians, who jumped from island to island, colonizing the coasts and drawing large amounts of wheat from the north shore of the Black Sea.

On the other hand, the neighboring kingdom of Messenia had the most fertile plains of Hellas (“good for planting, good for plowing” said Tyrtaeus; “a happy grassland” the Spartans called it). By annexing it they would achieve autarkic supply of food and no longer need to rely on remote territories, trade, merchants, strategic islands, and maritime straits easy to control for the enemy or a naval fleet.

Moreover, they would not cosmopolitanize, as usual with all trading nations. Sparta, then, was shaping up as a telurocracy—a geopolitical power of clearly continental type—opposed to the maritime Athenian thalassocracy.

Around 743 BCE, at a time when the Messenians were feasting and offering sacrifices to their gods, Sparta sent three lads dressed as maids. These little soldiers, well trained, carried short swords under their robes, and had no trouble infiltrating the carefree party atmosphere in Messenian territory. From inside they stalked the unarmed Messenia crowd, and at a given signal they began a bloody carnage in the thick of the crowd, before the Messenia mass subdued the boys. After the incident, the Messenians grouped and, enraged, armed themselves and marched into Laconia. In the fight that broke out, one of the kings of Sparta fell, and the First Messenia War began (described by Tyrtaeus and Pausanias, who in turn relied on Myron of Priene).

After four years of war and a great battle, neither side emerged victorious. That was a deaf resistance, guerrilla style, and probably conventional armies had been relatively disrupted after the first battle. Although not adopting yet the tactics of the phalanx or Hoplite equipment, the most decisive actions were hand strikes, raids and sieges. However, the Messenians had suffered so many losses that a Messenian warlord, Aristodemus and his men, retreated to a fortress on Mount Ithome, and visited the oracle for advice in their fight against Sparta. The oracle answered that to resist the Spartans, a maiden of an ancient and respectable Messenian family should be sacrificed to the gods. Aristodemus, who was to be a great patriot, did not hesitate to sacrifice his own daughter. When the Spartans heard this, they rushed to make peace with the Messenians as, superstitious or not, they attached great importance to such ritual matters.

After some years, however, the Spartans decided to attack the Messenians again. There was another great battle, but the victory yet again did not go for any of the two sides. And since the Messenian king had fallen, the leader Aristodemus went to reign over the Messenians. In the fifth year of his reign he was able to expel from his territory the Spartan forces. However, Aristodemus seemed to be under a dark curse. In a Messenian temple a shield fell from the hand of the statue of the goddess Artemis. The sacrificed daughter of Aristodemus appeared as ethereal figure and asked him to take off his armor.

Artemis did it, and she crowned him with a golden crown and dressed in a white robe. According to the mentality of the time, all these omens meant that the death of Aristodemus was coming. Ancient peoples took these things very seriously, it was not superstition but to unravel the archetypal signs repeated on Earth echoing what was happening in the sky. Accordingly, black premonitions gravitated around Aristodemus. A dense depression took over his mind. He began to think that he and his nation were condemned to slavery. Believing he had sacrificed his daughter in vain, he committed suicide over his grave. The Greeks said that “one whom the gods wish to destroy they first make him crazy.”

The war lasted a total of nineteen years, and it was only after this time that the Spartans could exterminate Messenian resistance and raze the fortress of Ithome. Some Messenians fled the Peloponnesian, and those who remained were treated more harshly than the very Helots of Laconia. They were relegated to be peasant vassals of Sparta at the Messenia fertile plain, and also forced them to pay half of the production of their land to their Spartan masters.

But the Messenians, much more numerous than the Spartans, were not satisfied with this situation of second-class and submitted people. Two generations after the First Messenian War, there was a bold leader named Aristomenes that, supported by the states of Argos and Arcadia, preached rebellion against Sparta. Following this, in the seventh century BCE the Second Messenian War began. With a band of loyal followers, Aristomenes starred in numerous raids on Spartan territory, even sweeping two populations.

Three times he celebrated a Hecatomb sacrifice, a ritual only allowed to perform to those who had killed more than a hundred enemies. The Messenians, for the first time, used the Hoplite phalanx tactics characterized by close order formations, barricading behind a shield wall from which the spears stabbed with impunity. The Spartans had not yet adopted this form of combat from the Middle East, and suffered catastrophic casualties in the Battle of Hysiae.

Sparta then consulted the oracle of Delphi. There they were told to go to Athens to procure a leader. This was not supposed to please the Spartans, as their relations with Athens were not good, and neither pleased the Athenians for the same reason, but both States respected the decisions of Delphi and did not object. The Athenians, however, acted in bad faith: they sent a lame teacher called Tyrtaeus (known to posterity as Tyrtaeus of Sparta), thinking that he would not have value as military captain.

However, Tyrtaeus was a great poet. His chants of war inflamed the martial ardor of the Spartans and raised their morale. In the next battle against the Messenians, the Spartans marched already inflamed and in phalanx combat, singing his songs. With such impulse they defeated Aristomenes in the Battle of the Great Pit, forcing the Messenians to retreat to another mountain fortress called Ira, at whose feet the Spartan camp was established. This state of siege, in which guerrillas returned stronger than during the first war, lasted eleven years. Aristomenes often managed to break the Spartan siege in Ira and head toward Laconia, subjected to pillage. Twice he was captured by the Spartans and twice escaped.

The third time was captured along with fifty of his men, and they were paraded victoriously through Sparta as if they were a Roman triumph. Then they were taken to the foot of Mount Taygetos and thrown off a cliff, the famous Kaiada. According to Greek history, only Aristomenes miraculously survived the fall and was able to leave the abyss following a fox. Soon, he was in the fortress of Ira in front of his men.

But the Spartans ended infiltrating a spy into the fortress, and one night, after Aristomenes returned from one of his raids, the fort was betrayed. In the fierce battle that followed it is said Aristomenes was wounded and, clasping his bravest men, broke the Spartan lines and fled to Rome, where he died soon after. It is more than likely that this myth was built to revitalize Messenian pride: even 250 years later it was said that Aristomenes was seen in a battlefield fighting against the Spartans.

The Spartans conquered by spear and sword enough land to support all their people and maintain the other peoples subjected. They subjugated the Messenians, beat hostile crowds far more numerous than themselves and indisputably subjected them to their rule. Messenian coastal populations became a sort of middle-class commercial and navy populations, and the rest of the country, mere Helots (peasant rabble). Encompassing the entire southern half of the Peloponnesus, including the original territory of Laconia and the conquered land of Messenia, Sparta became the largest state in all Hellas by far (three times larger than the Attic state of Athens, which is not an ordinary case).

AgriculturalValleySpartaTransUnlike other Hellenic states, Sparta had chosen to be a continental land power of compact territory instead of engaging in seafaring and colonizing areas outside Greece, as other Hellenic states in Asia Minor, Italy, the Black Sea or Africa. At least in part this was due to its immense agricultural potential: Messenia was the most fertile of the Greek world by far, while Athens suffered chronic lack of grain and continuously had to go to the Black Sea coast to look for it. Sparta had no such problems.

Think for a moment about how these battles, terribly fierce and long, that were about to bury the Sparta itself, could have influenced the Spartan character. The Messenian Wars marked forever their mentality. Ultimately, the teachers of the Spartans were their own enemies and the wars forced upon them. They were the ones who instituted at Sparta military paranoia and preparation for combat that characterized it; who forced Spartan aristocracy enter into crisis and, by necessity, find the best way to prevail over their enemies. Sparta would never have been what it became if in combat it had hit a cowardly people. Holding a long struggle against high-quality elements, bold and fearsome enemies to boast, aroused the Spartan force. Perhaps that is the only “advantage” of the unfortunate fratricidal wars, so typical of Europe.

Sparta – II

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


Let’s confess it, bluntly, how it always emerged on Earth all higher culture: Some men possessed of a character very close to Nature—barbarians in every awful sense of the word; men of prey in possession of a force of will to power still intact—, launched themselves on more civilized, more peaceful, weaker races perhaps dedicated to trade or grazing; or on ancient yet depleted cultures which last life force was fading in the bright fireworks of spirit and corruption. The aristocratic caste in its infancy was always the barbarian caste: their supremacy was not so much physical strength as psychical strength. Those men were more whole, which is to say “whole beasts,” in every way.

—Nietzsche


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Origins of Sparta

Before the great Indo-European invasions, Europe was populated by various pre-Indo-European peoples, some of whom had advanced societies, which we are inclined to consider as related to other civilizations and societies outside Europe.

At first, most of Greece was inhabited by Mediterranean peoples that later Hellenes invaders would call Pelasgians. Around 2700 BCE, the Minoan civilization flourished (named in memory of the legendary King Minos), based on the Mediterranean island of Crete, very influenced by Babylon and the Chaldeans, clearly related to the Etruscans and even with Egypt, and known for her telluric “bull worship,” the palace of Knossos, buildings stripped of fortifications and abundant art spirals, curves, snakes, women and fish, all of which places this civilization within the orbit of the cultures of telluric character, focused on Mother Earth or Magna Mater.

According to Greek mythology, as the first peripheral Hellenes were advancing in Greece and coming into contact with its people, the Minoans ended up demanding, as an annual tribute fourteen young, male Hellenes to be ritually slaughtered (the legend of Theseus, Ariadne, the labyrinth and the minotaur is reminiscent of this era).

By 2000 BCE there was an invasion by the first Hellenic wave that opened what in archeology is called the Bronze Age. The Hellenes were an Indo-European mass that, in successive waves quite separated in time, invaded Greece from the north. They were tough people; more united, martial and vigorous than the Pelasgians, and ended up submitting those lands despite being numerically inferior to the native population. These Hellenes were the famous Achaean Greeks referred by Homer and the Egyptian inscriptions. They brought their gods, solar symbols (including the swastika, later used by Sparta), the chariots, the taste for the amber, fortified settlements, Indo-European language (Greek, who would end up imposing itself on the indigenous population), Nordic blood, patriarchy and hunter-warrior traditions.

The Achaeans settled in Greece, establishing themselves as the dominant caste, without at first reaching Crete. The first destruction of the Minoan palaces (around 1700 BCE) was probably due to a large earthquake of which there is evidence; not Achaean invasion.

The Achaeans, finally, opened the way for the Mycenaean civilization, centered on the city of Mycenae, Argolis. In 1400 BCE, the Achaeans took by force the island of Crete, destroying the palaces and finally ending, to some extent, the Minoan civilization; eventually adopting some of its outward forms—the same thing that many uprooted invaders who trample a superior, but already declining civilization, do. These Achaeans were the ones who, around 1260 BCE, besieged and razed Troy in a crusade of the West-East capable to unite all the Achaeans—generally prone to war between themselves—in a common enterprise. In the Iliad Homer describes them as a band of barbarians with mentality and appearance of Vikings, sweeping the refined and civilized Troy. After this process, the entire west coast of Asia Minor, the Black Sea and the Bosphorus was subject to Greek influence: a process that will have a huge weight upon history.

Around 1200 BCE there was, again, a huge migration flow. Countless Indo-European peoples moved to the South in great tumult and to the East. The entire eastern Mediterranean suffered major seizures under the so-called “Sea Peoples” and other Indo-European tribes that invaded Turkey, Palestine, Egypt and the steppes of Eastern Europe, and opened the archaeological Iron Age in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As for the Mycenaean civilization of the Achaeans, it was also destroyed by one of these invasions. The apocalyptic references in the traditional Greek history (fire, destruction, death) made many historians mistakenly think in large earthquakes or riots. In this legendary invasion, much larger than the previous, iron weapons were used, superior than the bronze weapons of the Achaeans. The Dorians, belonging to such migration, and ancestors of the Spartans, broke into Greece with extreme violence, destroying in their path cities, palaces and villages. The Dorians took Crete and the Mycenaean civilization of the Achaeans abruptly disappeared from the archaeological record. Argolis (on Mycenae ground) never forgot this, and although now with Dorian blood the state of Argos and its domains would stubbornly oppose the Spartan power in later centuries.

The former settlement of the Dorians had been in the Balkans and in Macedonia, where they lived in a barbarous or semi-barbarous state. They had not always lived in the area but ended up there as a result of another migration from further north. The most sensible thesis considers the place of origin of the Dorians along with the Celts, Italics, Illyrians and the remaining Greeks, the so-called in Tumulus Culture and the latter Urnfield Cultures and Halstatt Culture: proto-Indo-European civilizations, tribal and semi-barbarous that flourished in Central Europe north of the Alps and southern Scandinavia. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Dorians had their primordial home “among the snows.” Genetically, Dorians seem to belong to R1b paternal lineage, that dominates Western Europe today.

Across Europe, after the invasions there was a contest (open first and then more subtle) between the martial mentality of the new invaders from the North and the native mentality of concupiscence. The East, Finland, Italy, the Iberian Peninsula and Greece were examples of this struggle, and usually the result was always the same: the Indo-European invaders prevailed despite their overwhelming numerical inferiority, then settling as nobility over a mob descendant of aboriginal and subjected peoples. In the Peloponnesus, this latent struggle resulted in the superhuman fruit of Sparta, just as, later, the struggle between Italic and Etruscan led to Rome.

Every era and every place has its own master race. At that time and that place, the Dorians were the dominant race. Of Nordic appearance, a soul of ice and fire, an inborn discipline and a brutal warrior vocation so natural to them distinguished them from the more peaceful natives, fully dedicated to the pleasures of the lower abdomen. The Dorians in particular (and among them specifically the Spartans, who kept themselves strictly separated from the rest of the people) maintained their original features longer than the other Hellenes: centuries after the Dorian invasion blond hair and tall stature were still considered the characteristic of the Spartan. This is because, as in India, the great epic of ancient invasion remained for a long time in the collective memory of the people; and the racism of the Dorians, along with their insistence on remaining a select elite, led to a system of racial separation which preserved for centuries the characteristics of the original invaders.

The name of the Dorians comes from Dorus, son of the legendary Helen (Helen of Sparta was before Helen of Troy). The aristocrats were called Heracleidae, as claimed descent also from Heracles, thus attributing divine ancestry. Divided into three tribes, the Dorians were led by the royal lineage, as well as oracles and Hellenic priests equivalent to the Celtic Druids. For the Heracleidae, the invasion of Greece was a divine command nominally from Apollo “the Hyperborean,” their favorite god.

During the four centuries, from 1200 BCE to 800 BCE, there was a stage that modern historiography called “Greek Middle Ages,” when the Dorians erected themselves as the native aristocracy and formed small “feudal” kingdoms constantly fighting against each other, as the uprooted invaders from all eras liked to do. This stage was a heroic, individualistic age of personal glory, in which the warriors sought a glorious sunset. Many battles still were decided by a duel of champions: the greatest warrior of one side faced the best of the other. This represents the heroic but foolish mentality of the time: “the strong destroy each other and the weak continue to live.”

By that time Greece had not yet reached the image of the refined warrior equivalent to the medieval knight: the Dorians were still barbarians. For better or worse, all great civilizations began with hordes of warriors and hunters, tightly bound by ties of clan, and strongly disciplined by a militarized lifestyle. Nietzsche already noted the importance of the “barbarian” character in the formation of all aristocracy. For him, even when such invaders are established and form states, the basic underlying character is still, and subtly, barbaric in the forms of these raising states.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERADuring the Greek Middle Ages, in 1104 BCE, the Heracleidae reached the Peloponnesus. Spartan history explained quite correctly that the Dorians invaded Greece eighty years after the destruction of Troy and, led by King Aristodemus, conquered the peninsula. Pausanias (second century, not to be confused with the Spartan prince who defeated the Persians at the battle of Plataea), in his Description of Greece, goes into more detail. He says that the Dorians, from a mountainous region of northern Greece called Oeta and guided by Hilo, a “son of Heracles” expelled from the Peloponnesus the Mycenaean Achaeans.

However, an Achaean counteroffensive held them back. Then, in a final process called “Return of the Heraclidae,” the Dorians definitely settled in the Peloponnesus and prevailed over the Achaeans, with great disturbances in the peninsula. The phrase-dogma of the “Return of the Heraclidae” was the way the Dorians had to justify the invasion of the Peloponnesus: noble Dorian families, distantly related to the Achaean noble families (both Dorians and Achaeans were Greeks), claimed what “rightfully” was theirs.

The new stream of Indo-European blood, courtesy of the Dorians, would eventually revitalize in the long-term the ancient Hellas, keeping it in the spiritual and physical forefront of the time along with Persia, India, an Egypt that was not by then what it used to be, and China. In the south of the Peloponnesus peninsula, the Dorians established their main center, the city of Sparta, also known by its former name, Lacedaemon. The territory under the dominion of Sparta was known as Laconia.

The original city of Sparta or Lacedaemon was not properly a city; it consisted of a “cluster” of five villages (Pitan, Cynosur, Meso, Limnas and Amiclas, initially military garrisons) different but close and united, each with its high priest. The settlements always lacked defensive walls, proudly confident in the discipline and ferocity of their warriors. Antalcidas went on to say that “the young men are the walls of Sparta, and the points of their spears its boundaries.” The lack of walls helped them to stay alert and not allow in any relaxing. Hitler would say, with an identical mentality: “A too great feeling of security provokes, in the long run, a relaxation of forces. I think the best wall will always be a wall of human breasts!”

Sparta, however, was surrounded by natural defenses, as it was situated in the valley of the river Eurotas, between high mountains, with the Taygetos mountain range to the west and Parnon at the east. However, the lack of walls demonstrates the safety and confidence of the Spartans as well as certain arrogance.

In ancient Hellas three Indo-European streams would end up as the main ones: Firstly the rough Dorians, who spoke a Greek dialect that used the a and r. On the other hand, the soft Ionians, who came from a Greek invasion before the Dorians, dressed in flowing robes, oriental style, and spoke a kinder Greek dialect to the ear, which employed much i and the s. Other peoples of Greece were called Aeolians, who spoke a dialect that seemed a mix of Dorian and Ionian, and came from the ancient, mixed Achaean and to some extent from the Pelasgians and later with the invading Dorians and Ionians—thus sometimes also called, erroneously, Achaeans.

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