Sparta – X

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA

“Man shall be trained for war, and woman for
the recreation of the warrior: all else is folly.”

—Nietzsche


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Women and marriage

So far we have examined in detail the Spartan man, but now it is time to consider the woman and to direct our attention towards her. The Spartans were perhaps the clearest representation of women of honor in the Iron Age, raised under a system that brought out their best qualities. But is it a paradox that, under a resounding patriarchy, women might enjoy broad freedoms? Is it nonsense that in a military where women should have nothing to do, they had more rights than women in any other Greek state? The German ideologue Alfred Rosenberg wrote:

Sparta offered the example of a well disciplined state, and was devoid of any female influence. The kings and the ephors formed the absolute power, the essence of which was the maintenance and expansion of this power through the increase of the Dorian upper stratum with its disciplined outlook.

The Indo-Europeans were strongly patriarchal nations, whose most representative word was precisely “fatherland”, in Latin patria (father), representing the word mater (mother), “matter” (in Germanic languages—German Vaterland and fatherland in English—, the words mean “land of the fathers”). Sparta itself was patriarchal to the core, but as we shall see, the Spartans were not in any way unfair or oppressive to their wives. They enjoyed an impossible freedom in the effeminate societies where everything is focused on materialism and enjoyment of earthly, temporary pleasures, when the woman becomes a hetaerae: a passive object of enjoyment and distorted worship.

Sparta, a state so hard and so manly, was the fairest of Hellas in everything concerning their women, and not just because they mollycoddled, spoiled or flattered them. Sparta was the only Greek state which instituted a policy of female education, outside the knowledge of the home and children that every woman should own. Sparta was also the state with the highest literacy rate of all Hellas, because Spartan girls were taught to read like their brothers, unlike the rest of Greece where women were illiterate.

In the rest of Greece, sometimes, newborn girls (remember the myth of Atalanta), even if they were perfectly healthy (just like in China today) were exposed to death. Many parents almost considered a disgrace the birth of a girl, and finally all that was achieved was to produce an imbalance in the demographic distribution of the sexes.

But Sparta had more women than men, because their exposure of girls was not as severe; because girls did not pass the brutalities of male instruction, because they did not fall in battle, and because men were often on campaign. Spartans who felt at home should, therefore, always thought in terms of mothers, sisters, wives and daughters: the Homeland, the sacred ideal, had a female character; and protecting it amounted to protect their women. Men did not protect themselves: they were the remote shell of the heart, the sacred heart, and sacrificed themselves in honor of that heart. In Sparta more than anywhere else, females made up the inner circle, while males represented the protective outer wall.

Spartan girls received food in the same amount and quality of their brothers, which did not happen in the democratic states of Greece, where the best food pieces were for boys. Spartan girls were placed under an education system similar to the boys that favored their skills of strength, health, agility and toughness in outdoor classes, but trained by women. And they were not educated in that blind fanaticism inculcated to excel, sacrifice and desire—that feeling that among boys it brushed the desire for self-destruction. For girls, on the other hand, the emphasis was put in the domain and control of emotions and feelings and the cultivation of the maternal instinct. It favored that youths of both sexes trained athletically together, as it was expected that the lads would encourage the fair sex to excel in physical exertion.

The hardness, severity and discipline of female education were, in any case, much lower than those of the Agoge, and there was much less emphasis on the domain of the suffering and pain as well as aggression. Punishment for Spartan girls was not even remotely as cruel as the punishment for boys, nor were torn out from their family homes at seven. After seeing the almost supernatural prowess that meant male instruction, the education of girls, despite being exemplary, is nor impressive.

But why was all this about, apart from the fact that all men were active in the military and therefore needed more self-control and discipline? Simply put, the man is a ticking time bomb. In his insides it ferments and burns all kinds of energies and essences that, if not channeled, are negative when poured out, as these forces come from the “dark side” which first inclination is chaos and destruction. The aggressiveness of man, his instinct to kill, his tendency to subdue others, his sexual boost, greatest strength, courage, power, will, strength and toughness, make that he has to be subjected to a special discipline that cultivates and channels those energies in order to achieve great things, especially when it comes to young healthy men with powerful, natural instincts—under penalty of which his spirits suffer a huge risk.

Asceticism itself (as sacrifice) is much more typical of man than woman. In fact, the Indo-European woman was never subjected to disciplinary systems as severe as those of the ancient armies. It was considered by the men of old as a more “magical” creature because she was not hindered by the roars of the beast within. For all these reasons, it was fair that the male education was more severe and rigorous than the female: that is how you train the beast. “It is better to educate men,” Nietzsche put in the words of a wise man who suggested disciplining women.

The main thing in the female formation was physical and a “socialist” education to devote their lives to their country—like men, only that in their case the duty was not shedding her blood on the battlefield, but to keep alive the home, providing a strong and healthy offspring to her race, and raise them with wisdom and care. Giving birth is the fruit of the female instinct that renews the race: that was the mission inculcated in the girls of Sparta.

Spartan women ran, boxed and wrestled in addition of using javelin and disc, and swimming, doing gymnastics and dance. Although they did participate in sport tournaments, women were forbidden do it in the Olympics because of the rejection of the other Hellenic peoples, infected with the mentality whereby a “lady” should rot within four walls. We see that, while Greek sculptures represent well the ideal of male beauty (think of the discobolus by Myron), they did not in the least approach the ideal of Aryan female beauty: all women in female statues represented amorphous, not very natural and non-athletic bodies, albeit with perfect facial features. If the Spartans had left sculptures of women, they would have represented better the ideal of beauty because they, unlike the other Greeks, had a clearly defined feminine ideal, and it was clear what a woman had to be.

As for female austerity, it was also pronounced (though not as much as the one that men practiced), especially compared with the behavior of the other Greek women, so fond of the colors, superficiality, decorations, objects, and with a hint of “consumerism” typical of civilized societies. Spartan women did not even know the extravagant hairstyles from the East and they used to wear, as a sign of their discipline, their hair up with simplicity: probably the most practical for a life of intense sports and activity. Also, all kinds of makeup, decorations, jewelry and perfumes were unknown and unnecessary for Spartan women, which proudly banished all that southern paraphernalia. Seneca said that “virtue does not need ornaments; it has in itself its highest ornaments.”

One purpose of raising healthy and agile women was that Spartan babies, growing within solid bodies, were born as promising products. According to Plutarch, Lycurgus “made the maidens exercise their bodies in running, wrestling, casting the discus, and hurling the javelin, in order that the fruit of their wombs might have vigorous root in vigorous bodies and come to better maturity, and that they themselves might come with vigour to the fulness of their times, and struggle successfully and easily with the pangs of child-birth” (Life of Lycurgus, XIV).

Spartan women were prepared, since childhood, to childbirth and to the stage where they would be mothers, teaching them the right way to raise the little one to become a true Spartan. During this training, the Spartan women were often babysitters, acquiring experience for times when they would receive the initiation of motherhood. They married from age twenty, and did not marry men who surpassed them greatly in age (as was done in the rest of Greece), but with men their age or five years older or younger at most. Age difference within the members of a marriage was poorly viewed, as it sabotaged the duration of the couple’s fertile phase. The aberration of marrying girls of fifteen with men of thirty was not even remotely allowed, an aberration that did happen in other Hellenic states where parents came to force unions whose age difference was of a generation.

Nor was allowed in Sparta another abomination, which consisted of marring girls with their own uncles or cousins to keep inherited wealth within the family: an altogether oriental, anti-Indo-European and unnatural mentality. Other practices, such as prostitution or rape, were not even conceived. Or adultery. One Geradas, a Spartan of very ancient type, who, on being asked by a stranger what the punishment for adulterers was among them, answered: “Stranger, there is no adulterer among us.” “Suppose, then,” replied the stranger, “there should be one.” “A bull,” said Geradas, “would be his forfeit, a bull so large that it could stretch over MountTaygetus and drink from the river Eurotas.” Then the stranger was astonished and said: “But how could there be a bull so large?” To which Geradas replied, with a smile: “But how could there be an adulterer in Sparta?” Such, then, are the accounts we find of their marriages.

In other Greek states, male nudity was common in religious and sport activities, and this was a sign of their arrogance and pride. Female nudity, however, was banned as the very presence of women in such acts. But in the processions, religious ceremonies, parties and sport activities of Sparta, girls were as naked as the young. Every year during the Gymnopaedia, which lasted ten days, the Spartan youth of both sexes competed in sports tournaments and danced naked. (This was another suggestion of Plato in his Republic as well as one of the observations made by Caesar on the Germans.) It was felt that, attending sporting events, the young Spartan would be able to select a well-built husband.

Today nudist activities of this type would be ridiculous because people’s nudity is shameful; modern bodies are flabby and lack normal forms. The modern individual tends to see an athletic body as an outstanding body, when an athletic body is a normal and natural body; it is the rest of stunted physical and non-exercised types which are not normal. Recall Nietzsche’s reflection: “A naked man is generally regarded as a shameful spectacle.” However, at that time, witnessing such a display of health, agility, strength, beauty, muscle and good constitutions should inspire genuine respect and pride of race. The Hellenes of the democratic states argued at the time that the presence of female nudity could cause leering looks, but the fact is that the Spartans took it all with ease and pagan nonchalance. Moreover, young Spartan women that identified an awestruck voyeur used a clever string of jokes that made him a fool in front of the entire stadium, full of solemn authorities and attentive people.

In some ceremonies, the girls sang about boys who had done great deeds, or dishonored that had led to bad. They were, in some way, the demanding voice of the Spartan collective unconscious, which ensures the courage and conduct of men. Not only in the songs appeared the pouring of their opinions, but in public life: they did not overlook a single one; they were not gentle, but were always criticizing or praising the brave and coward. For men of honor, opinions on the value and manhood were more important if they came from female voices worthy of respect: the criticisms were sharper and praises more restorative. According to Plutarch, the Spartan woman “engendered in young people a laudable ambition and emulation.” That is why relationships with women not softened them, but hardened them even more, as they preferred to be brave and conquer their worship.

And what was the result of the patriarchal education on the young girls? It was a caste of women on the verge of perfection: severe, discreet and proud. Spartan femininity took the appearance of young athletic, happy and free, yet serious and somber. They were, as the Valkyries, perfect companion of the warriors. Trophy-women insofar as they aspired for the best man, but physically active and bold; very far, then, from the ideal of “woman-object.”

In all Hellas, Spartan women were known for their great beauty and respected for their serenity and maturity. The poet Alcman of Sparta (7th century BCE) dedicated a poem to a woman champion competing in chariot races, praising her for her “golden hair and silver face.” Two centuries later, another poet, Bacchylides, wrote about the “blonde Lacedaemonian,” describing her “golden hair.” Given that the dyes in Sparta were banned, we can deduce that racism and the Apartheid instinct of the Spartans with respect to aboriginal Greeks was strong enough so that, no more and no less than seven centuries after the Dorian invasion, blond hair still predominated among the citizenry of the country.

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In a comedy called Lysistrata, written by the Athenian playwright Aristophanes (444-385 BCE), there is a scene where a crowd of admiring Athenian women surround a young Spartan named Lampito. “What a splendid creature!” they said. “What a skin, so healthy, what a body, so firm!” Another added: “I’ve never seen breasts like that.” Homer called Sparta Kalligynaika, meaning “land of beautiful women.” On the other hand, do not forget that the legendary Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, was originally Helen of Sparta: an ideal, even a queen-priestess that was stolen by the East and that not only Sparta, but the whole Greece recovered through fighting and conquest. (*)

Spartan women were superior in all respects to the other women of their time and, of course, today’s women. Even in physical virtues, courage and toughness they would outstrip most modern men. Their severity was the best company to their husbands and the best raising for their children, and she demanded the greatest sacrifices. An anecdote recounts how a Spartan mother killed his own son when she saw he was the sole survivor of the battle and that returned home with a back injury, that is, he had fled rather than fulfill his sacred duty: immolation. Another Spartan mother, seeing her son fled the combat, lifted her robe and asked in the most merciless crudeness if his intention was to, terrified, return from where he came. While other mothers would have said “poor thing!” and stretched their arms open, Spartan mothers did not forgive.

Tacitus wrote that the mothers and wives of the Germans (whose mentality was not too different from the Spartan) used to count the scars of their warriors, and that they even required them to return with wounds to show their readiness of sacrifice for them. The Spartans believed that in their wives lived a divine gift, and it was not to be the women who would convince them otherwise, so these women sought to maintain the high standard of the devotion their men professed.

Furthermore, women were convinced that in their men it lived the nobility, courage, honesty, power and righteousness typically of the male, along with the notion of duty, honor and the willingness to sacrifice; and men also sought to keep up with such an ideal. Again, we find that the ancient woman did not soften the man, but helped to improve and perfect him, because the man felt the need to maintain the integrity before such women, so women remained alert and they did the same with them, having in their minds that they themselves were ideals for which their men were willing to sacrifice themselves. Thus, a virtuous circle was created. The woman was a motif not to give up the fight, but precisely a reason to fight with even more fanaticism.

Other Greeks were outraged because the Spartan women were not afraid to speak in public; because they had opinions and that, what is more, their husbands listened. (The same indignation the Romans experienced about the greater freedom of Germanic women.) Moreover, since their men were in constant military camp life, Spartan women, like the Vikings, were responsible for the farm and home. They managed the home resources, economy and self-sufficiency of the family, so that the Spartans relied on their wives to provide the stipulated food rations for their Syssitias. Spartan women (again, like Germanic women) could inherit property and pass it, unlike the other Greek women. All this female domestic administration was, as we see, similar in Germanic law, where women boasted the home-key as a sign of sovereignty over the holy and impregnable family house, and of faithfulness to the breadwinner. Home is the smallest temple that may have the smallest unit of blood, the cell on which the whole race is based: the family. And the bearer of the key had to be forcibly the mother.

A society at war is doomed if the home, if the female rear, is not with the male vanguard. All the sacrifices of the warriors are just a glorious waste, aimless and meaningless if in the country no women are willing to keep the home running, providing support and spiritual encouragement to the men in the field and, ultimately, giving birth to new warriors. A soldier far from home, without country, ideal and a feminine image of reference—a model of perfection, an axis of divinity—immediately degenerates into a villain without honor. Conversely, if he is able to internalize an inner mystique and a feminine symbolism that balances the brutality he witness day after day, his spirit will be strengthened and his character ennoble. Sparta had no problems in this regard; Spartan women were the perfect counterpart of a good warrior.

Even marriage was tinged with violence. During the ceremony, the man, armed and naked, grabbed her arm firmly and brought the girl “by force” as she lowered her head. (According to Nietzsche, “The distinctive character of a man is will; and in a woman, submission.” In Spartan marriage this was truer than anywhere else.) This should not be interpreted in a literal sense of rapture, but in a metaphorical sense and ritual: a staging of Indo-European mythologies are numerous with references of robbery, kidnapping—and the subsequent liberation—of something holy that is necessary to win, earn the right to own it. The fire from the gods, the golden fleece, the apples of the Hesperides, the grail of Celtic and Germanic traditions and the sleeping Valkyrie are examples of such sacred images. Cherished ideals not to be delivered free but conquered by force and courage after overcoming difficult obstacles, and thus ensured that only the most courageous were able to snatch it and own it, while the weak and timid were disqualified in the fight.

On the other hand, can we not find a similarity between the Spartan marriage ritual and the Indo-Iranian sveyamvara marriage by abduction allowed to warriors, and in the case of the Sabine abducted by Latins in the origins of Rome, and the same type of marriage allowed to the old Cossacks? In the Indo-Aryan writing, the Mahabharata, we read how the hero Arjuna abducted Subhadra “as do the warriors,” marrying her. Again, it was not a literal rapture but rather the conquest of the sacred through respect and strength what rendered the sacred fall before the hero.

In Spartan marriage, then, we see how the Spartan woman was elevated to the status of a divine ideal and not given by her parents to a man chosen by them (as in other rituals of marriage, which makes the bride an object of barter), but the brave man had to earn her. In fact, in Sparta it was not allowed that parents had anything to do with the marital affairs of their offspring; it was the couple that decided their marriage, allowing that preferences and the healthy instincts of the youths would be unhindered, making it clear that to possess a woman of the category of the Spartan it was not enough wealth, parental consent, marriage arrangements, dialectics, seduction or false words. It was necessary to make an overwhelming impression; be robust and noble, be genetically worthy.

Also, the Spartan marriage ceremony—dark and almost sinister in its direct crudeness—is the height of the patriarchal warrior society, and one of the most eloquent expressions of patriarchy that governed in Sparta. Lycurgus sought to establish military paranoia and a perpetual environment of war even in marriage. Just as children had to procure their food by hunting and gathering and rapine, and pretending to be in the enemy zone, an adult man should also win his chosen one by pretending to be into fringe, hostile territory, “abducting her” in remembrance of a hard and dangerous time that was not kind for romance and lovers. This again made evident how little parents were involved in a plot like this: in ancient times, if they refused to consent to the marriage, the young man performed a daring raid and, with the complicity of his fiancée, “abducted her.”

With the Spartan marriage system it was also subtly implied that, as Nature teaches, not everyone was entitled to a female. To be eligible for this right it was necessary for a man to pass a test: eugenics, child rearing, education, entry into the Army Syssitias and the mutual fidelity of a young female belonging to the same call-up year, which in turn he gained through observation and knowledge at sporting events, popular and religious, and a long loving friendship whose latent purpose should remain hidden from the rest of society. Throughout all these phases the man conquered his beloved girl. The unconquered woman had to prove nothing. She chose her fiancé and had the say as to accept her future husband. Ultimately, it was she who willingly indulged in complicity, leaving herself to be ritually “kidnapped” by the man of her choice.

After the ritual, the bride was taken to the house of her in-laws. There they shaved her head and made her wore clothing like a man. Then she was left in a dark room, waiting for the arrival of the groom. All this is extremely difficult to understand for a modern Western mind and it is not from this point of view we should try to understand it, but putting us at the time, bearing in mind that both Spartan man and woman belonged to an Order.

This last—totally sordid—phase served to impress upon the newlyweds the notion that the secrecy and discretion of their relationship was not over, and that they had not yet earned the right to enjoy a normal marriage. For the woman it implied initiation, sacrifice and a new stage. She was stripped from her seduction skills and her awareness of being attractive. For the man, it was beneficial to make him appreciate what really mattered of his wife: not clothes, hair or ornaments but her body; her face and character.

Consuming an act in these gloomy conditions and absolutely hostile to romance and sexual arousal was for both the man and the woman the least imaginable stimulating, so that gradually they became accustomed to the physical sensations arising from the sexual act, but without the additional psychological stimuli such as a more feminine look in the woman and a gentler environment—stimuli that tend to boycott male stamina, moving him to abandon himself to pleasure and rest on his laurels. Therefore, this staging was not much inspiring sexually in short term, but instead was very stimulating in long-term in a subtle way: slowly, it was blown into the hearts of the lovers the longing for that which was not still allowed.

So, by the time a woman had re-grown abundant hair, and the pseudo-clandestineness of the relationship was dissipated over time, both male and female were well experienced adults who knew what they wanted and, despite it, had not suffered any loss in sexual desire but rather were more than ever prepared to appreciate and enjoy what meant a free physical relationship.

Lycurgus established that a man should be ashamed to be seen with his wife in loving attitudes so that the meeting took place in private and with greater intimacy and passion, and that the surrounding secrecy and hostility favored the magic of the union: the feeling of complicity and the true romance, which always has to have some secrets. (Plato said that holding hands and fondling should be the maximum carnal love shown in public.) The objective of this measure, too, was to promote mutual thirst for true knowledge, fascination, mystery, magic: the sacred short-circuit between man and woman, and—let’s say it—the curiosity of the forbidden, so that their relationship had no public at all, but a private matter, and to encourage that a man and a woman would not get tired of one another. The Spartan couple should have, then, a powerful sexuality that oozed from healthy bodies and pure spirits, resulting in a clean eroticism and a positive lust necessary for the preservation of the race. In the words of Xenophon:

He [Lycurgus] noticed, too, that, during the time immediately succeeding marriage, it was usual elsewhere for the husband to have unlimited intercourse with his wife. The rule that he adopted was the opposite of this: for he laid it down that the husband should be ashamed to be seen entering his wife’s room or leaving it. With this restriction on intercourse the desire of the one for the other must necessarily be increased, and their offspring was bound to be more vigorous than if they were surfeited with one another (Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, 1).

How, then, did the Spartans manage to be with their wives? In the Syssitias, a man stood quietly and left the room, ensuring that nobody saw him (at night it was forbidden to walk with a lighting of any kind, to promote the ability to move in the dark without fear and safely). He entered his home, where he found his wife and where it happened what had to happen. The man then returned to the Syssitia with his comrades in arms, wrapped in a secrecy that almost touched the squalor. Nobody noticed anything. The sexuality of the couple was strictly private, even furtive and pseudo-clandestine so that no person would interfere with it and make the relationship stronger and, to quote again Plutarch, that their minds were always “recent in love, to leave in both the flame of desire and complacency.”

Were Spartan relations normal, natural or desirable? No. Quite the opposite. They created a most unpleasant weather, far from corresponding with some sort of “ideal”. No sane person would want such a relationship as a way of seeking pleasure. For the Spartans, however, as a result of their peculiar idiosyncrasies, these things “worked”. And yet, we see that boredom, repetition, lack of curiosity and monotony, the real demons in modern couples (and not an infrequent cause of dissatisfaction, infidelity, breakups or perversions that emerge when breaking the routine) were uncommon in Spartan marriages.

Spartan privacy and discretion were, in fact, the opposite of the relations of our days: pure appearance and social desirability with a public, not private basis. Spartans understood this important issue and lived in conformity with it. They favored the meeting of men and women in popular events, but they kept loving relationships strictly private. (Millennia later, the SS also understood it, and on their tables of values they firmly stamped: “Maintain the mysterious appearance of love!” The strength of their love came from themselves, unlike the infantile current relationships whose fuel is the external world outside the couple, without which the couple is empty and cannot function.

Spartan Romanticism was the epitome of love in the Iron Age: love in a hostile area and in difficult times. Marriage relationships were designed for the exchange to be beneficial. Today, the marriage almost invariably castrates man, making him fat, cowardly, lazy, and turning the woman into a manipulative, hedonistic, whimsical and poisonous individual.

On the other hand, there was another controversial Spartan measure that had to do with the need to procreate. If a man began to grow old and knew a young man whose qualities admired, he could present him to his wife to beget robust offspring. The woman could cohabit with another man who accepted her, if he was of greater genetic value than her husband (i.e., if he was a better man). This was not considered adultery but a service to the race. Also, if a woman was barren or began to decline biologically, the husband was entitled to take a fertile woman who loved him, and he was not considered an adulterer. In Viking society (the kind of society that came from the ancient Dorians) if a woman was unfaithful with a man manifestly better than her husband, it was not considered adultery.

The above may seem sordid and primitive; it may seem an annulment of the individual or of the order, and “reduce a man to the status of cattle,” but with the strong desire of offspring in Sparta they cared little about selfish or individual desires. To the forces of Nature and race personal whims are unimportant; what matters is that the offspring are healthy and robust, and that the torrent of children is never extinguished. These peculiar measures, that in an undisciplined people would have provoked chaos, in the Spartans, used to discretion and order, did not cause any problems. On the other hand, we must avoid falling into the trap of thinking that all couples “got laid”. In the majority of cases both partners were healthy and fertile and did not need of any “assistance”.

What was considered the birth in Sparta in the context of this natural mindset? A good way to explain it is quoting an Italian Fascist slogan, “War is to the male what childbearing is to the female.” The duty of man was sacrificing his strength from day to day and shed his blood on the battlefield, and women’s to struggle to give birth and raise healthy children. Since their childhood that was the sacred duty they had been taught.

In this environment, a Spartan woman who refused to give birth would have been as unpopular as a Spartan man who refused to fight, for the woman who refuses to give birth sabotaged the sacrifice of the young warrior just as the man who refuses to defend home sabotaged the efforts of the young mother who gives birth. It would have been more than a sacrilege: a betrayal. Artemis, the most revered female deity in Sparta, was, among other things, the goddess of childbirth, and was invoked when the young women were giving birth. In any case, labor for Spartan women should not have been traumatic, first because since their childhood their bodies were hardened and they exercised the muscles that would help them give birth; secondly because they conceived their children while they were still young and strong, and thirdly because it gave birth under a happy and proud motivation of duty, aided by a knowledge and natural medicine confirmed by many generations of mothers and Spartan nurses.

The great freedom of women in Sparta did not imply that women were handed over leadership positions of power. The woman was not the driving, but the inspiring force; generating and conservative. She did not dominate but subtly influenced, strangely reaffirming the character of men. A woman could be a priestess or a queen, but not meddled in the affairs of political and warrior leadership, because that meant taking a role associated with the masculine side. The woman was a pure ideal that must at all costs be kept away from the dirty side of politics and war command, but always present in society and in the thought of the warrior, because that was where resided her mysterious power. It was in the mind of men where the woman became a conductive force, meaning memory-love (in terms of Minni) and inspiration.

To Gorgo, queen of Sparta, wife of king Leonidas, a foreign woman once said that only Spartan women kept any real influence over men, and the queen answered, “because we are the only ones who give birth to real men.” Again, they had influence over men, but not power. In ancient Scandinavian meetings, as an example of the value of the feminine influence, only married men were allowed to vote. The man was the one who made the decisions, but it was assumed that he was not complete until he had at his side a complementary, feminine spirit, a Woman who could transmit certain magic everyday, and inspired him with her reflections and only then he was allowed to vote. In practice, every marriage was a single vote. On the other hand, in the other Hellenic states the female presence was banished, thus unbalancing the mentality and behavior of the warrior, and finally facilitating the emergence of pederast homosexuality. The whole issue of Spartan femininity was really inconceivable in the rest of Greece.

peplodorio The Athenians called the Spartan women fainomérides (“those that teaches the thighs”) as a reproach of their freedom of dress. This was because the Spartans were still using the old Dorian peplos, which was open in the waist side. It was part of a women’s fashion, more comfortable and lighter than the female clothing in the rest of Greece: where fashions flourished of extravagant hairstyles, makeup, jewelry or perfumes: it was a fashion for healthy Spartan women. But the rest of Hellas, as far as women are concerned, was already infected with Eastern customs: which kept them permanently locked up at home, where their bodies weakened and sick minds developed. The Athenians themselves had never been able to conceive that women exhibited their nakedness in public, although men themselves often did. The Athenian poet Euripides (480-406 BCE) was shocked at the fact that the “daughters of the Spartans… leave home” and “mingle with men showing her thighs.”


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(*) The very image of Helen of Sparta has to be purified. Far from the common vision that Hollywood has shown us, her spirit became disordered by the outburst of Aphrodite. Helen, the highest ideal of Hellenic beauty and femininity, was kidnapped by the East, hence the remarkable swat of the Greeks. Upon her arrival in Troy, Helen recovered memory, recalled she was the queen of Sparta, was married to King Menelaus, and they had two daughters; and bitterly regretted and wept for her mistake.

Helen cursed her luck and Aphrodite by her deception, she considered herself captive despite being treated like a princess, and despised her “husband” Paris (as is evident when she contemptuously rejects him after having behaved like a coward before Menelaus, for whom she reserved her admiration). Lamenting her fate, she wished to be recovered by her lawful husband, as attested by the scene where she has her window in form of open arms as to communicate the permanence of her love. Once she was recovered for Greece, Helen returned to the Spartan throne with honors, serving as queen again, as seen in the Odyssey when Telemachus, son of Odysseus, goes to Sparta to inquire about the fate of his father. It is then that Penelope, wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus, laments that her son goes to Sparta, “the land of beautiful women.”

Sparta – VIII

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


sparta


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 – VI

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


The abandonment of sick, weak or deformed babies by the Spartans was more humanitarian and, indeed, a thousand times more humane than the pitiful madness of our present time, when the more sickly subjects are preserved at all costs, following a race of degenerates burdened by disease.

—Hitler

sparta


Eugenics and early childrearing


The Spartan upbringing exudes what in his Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche called “breeding moral” as to the superior man, as opposed to “dressage moral” that, for example, Christianity uses. What the Spartans did was to maximize natural selection to obtain a race of perfect men and women. Today, the cult of perfection raises uproar among the champions of the politically correct, always happy to say that perfection is unattainable, thereby seeking to justify and excuse their own laziness to avoid even approaching the subject. But Lycurgus and his disciples had contemplated this ideal of perfection as a goal and to achieve it they renounced all scruple, adopting a detached, aloof and on top of philosophy: “beyond good and evil” in the vernacular.

It can be said that the system of eugenics preceded even birth, because the young pregnant maid and future mother practiced special exercises designed to encourage that their future child was born healthy and strong, and that labor was easy. There is nothing more insane than the present day, when women who have not played sports in their lives are forced to give birth in traumatic ways without the necessary physical and mental preparation, like a soldier going to war without military training.

Once the baby was born, the mother bathed him in wine. According to the Spartan custom body contact with the wine made the epileptics, decrepit and sickly enter into convulsions and fainted, so that the weak died soon, or at least could be identified for disposal, but the strong were as hardened steel. This may seem a kind of baseless superstition, but Aristotle himself defended it, and the French Enlightenment criticized as “irrational” the peasant custom of bathing newborns with water with wine: a sign that in the eighteenth century rural France the custom continued. We now know, for example, that a bath of alcohol hardens the feet, preparing them to support prolonged activity. We also know that red wine contains tannins, substances of plant origin that are used for tanning leather and other animal skins and make them tough and resistant to extreme temperatures and microbial invasions.

If the baby passed the test, he was taken by his father to the Lesjé (“porch”) and inspected by a council of wise elders to judge his health and strength, and to determine whether it would be able to withstand a Spartan life. All babies that were not healthy, beautiful and strong were taken to Apothetae (“place of rejection”) on the Eastern slope of Mount Taygetos (2407 meters high), from which were thrown into Kaiada (Spartan equivalent to the Roman Tarpeian Rock), a pit located 10 km northwest of Sparta. To this day, Kaiada is a place that has always been surrounded by sinister legends. Not only defective children were thrown into the depths, but also enemies of the state (cowards, traitors, Messenians rebels and suspects) and some prisoners of war. Recently numerous skeletons have been discovered buried there, including women and children.

At other times the defective were delivered to the helots to be raised as slaves, but maybe this should be read that sometimes a caring shepherd (or rather a pastor needed for labor) picked up a baby who had been abandoned to the elements to die, taking him home and rising him as a son.

Let us recall, moreover, that the ancient Germans abandoned defective babies in the woods to be devoured by wolves. In the SS, babies being born deformed, weak or sick were stifled at birth, and subsequently informed the parents that the child was stillborn. According to Plutarch, for the Spartans, “leaving alive a being that was not healthy and strong from the beginning did not benefit either for the State or the individual himself.” Under this principle there were executed, in an act of true compassion, all babies who were not perfectly healthy. Along with eugenics this was aristogenesis (“best birth” or “birth of the best”).

What Nature usually has done in a slow and painful way the Spartans did so quickly and almost painlessly, saving unnecessary work and suffering. Rather than ignoring the laws of nature—as does the modern techno-industrial society by getting into the red with Nature and the future—, the Spartans rose the laws to the maximum exponent, and created a world where it was impossible to escape from them.

Most Hellenic States (like all Indo-European peoples of antiquity, as well as many non-Indo-European) followed similar eugenic-selection tactics in which it was assumed that the right to life was not for everyone, but that it must be earned proving oneself strong and healthy. This idea comes from the unconscious conviction that the people to which one belongs has internalized a pact with Nature. In the rest of Greece, eugenics was optional and the decision was up to the parents, so that the babies were selected privately as a domestic policy.

In Sparta, on the other hand, the selection was a fully institutionalized state policy. The Spartans saw in these measures a matter of life and death, and survival in terms of community of blood. They assumed these measures with conviction, because in the past the measures had helped them to overcome extremely adverse situations. Its aim was to ensure that only the fit survive and to favor evolution, thus maintaining a high biological level for the country and, on this basis, make an improvement on all levels.

Babies who survived the selection were returned to their mothers and incorporated into a male or female brotherhood according to their sex—usually the same one to which belonged his father or mother. Little or nothing is known about these brotherhoods, maybe guilds where children were initiated into religious worship. After being accepted into this fraternity, they went to live with their mothers and nannies, growing up among women up to their seventh year.

During these seven years, the female influence would not soften the children, as these were women who could raise their offspring without softening them. Spartan mothers and nannies were an example of solid maternity: harsh young, severe, and virtuous women imbued with the profound importance and sacredness of their mission. They had been trained since birth to be real women—to be mothers. Any excessive tenderness or compassion for their child was removed. If the baby was defective he should be killed, and if not, should be tanned as soon as possible to be able to withstand a Spartan life. The first years of the existence of a toddler marked him for the rest of his life and this was understood by the Spartan women, who carefully applied themselves into the task of raising men and women.

Instead of swaddling the babies in bandages, warm clothes, diapers and blankets like larvae, the nursing mothers of Sparta put them on supple, thin and light fabrics; with freeing the limbs so they could move them at will and experience the freedom of the body. They knew that babies have a fresher and intact immune system than adults, and if they were taught to endure cold and heat at an early age, not only they would not resent it, but would harden them and make them more immune in the future. Instead of giving in to the cries of babies, Spartan women accustomed them not to complain. Instead of allowing whims for food or overfeeding them with super-purified, ultra-hyper-sterilized and disinfected food that made their immune systems lose attention, they fed them with a coarse and natural diet. Instead of committing the aberration of feeding them with animal, pasteurized, boiled milk stripped of its natural qualities, Spartan women nursed their children themselves, helping to form the maternal biological link.

During the first seven years one more task was ensured so that the infants faced their fears. Spartan mothers and nannies resorted to various methods. Instead of allowing babies to develop fear of the dark, newborns were left in the dark so they could get used to it. Instead of making the babies feel they do not fend for themselves, the were often left alone. They were taught not to cry or complain; to be tough and endure loneliness, although they did remove the objects or impede situations that could make children upset or cry justifiably.

Little Spartans were not exactly pampered like children today are overprotected, overfilled with warm clothes, bulky diapers, hats, scarves, mittens, booties, lace, bells, effeminate and garish designs that make the poor creature look ridiculous: a swollen and multicolored ball, restricting his growth, stunting his immunity, isolating him from his environment and preventing feeling it or adapting to it and developing a complicity with it. They were not surrounded by sycophants at all hours hanging on their whining. Nor were subjected to concerts of cries, cuddles and hysterical laughter from unhealthy women: noises that confuse the child and make him feel uncomfortable and ridiculous.

Spartan mothers did not reprimand their children when they showed curiosity, or when they ventured or when soiled in the field; or when they went alone or out exploring, or playing hurt because that would decimate their initiative. This custom of over-pampering children and reproaching when taking risk is not typical of Indo-European, demanding and manly societies. Spartan children were allowed to penetrate nature, running through the fields and through the woods; climb trees, rocks, getting dirty, bloodied, being together and fighting and walking totally naked and not left a single portion of untanned skin outdoors.

spartan_warriorAll physically and spiritually healthy men felt the call of heroism, war and weapons from an early age: an instinct that the race has injected them into the blood to ensure its defense. Far from encouraging a distaste for violence that is always given to children, the Spartan women encouraged it when possible. Each time the children looked a Spartan soldier it was created around him an aura of mystery and adoration: they admired him and had him as model and example, and wanted to emulate him soon.

As a result of these wise policies, Spartan nurses were famous in all Hellas, for their ways produced as mature, tough, disciplined and responsible children that many foreigners rushed to hire their services to raise their own children under Spartans methods. For example, the famous Athenian Alcibiades (450-404 BCE), nephew of Pericles and student of Socrates, was raised by the Spartan nurse Amicla.

“Her little child”

Spanish version of this post: here.

Excerpted from Werner Ross’s Der ängstliche Adler – Friedrich Nietzsches Leben (1980):

Carl_Ludwig_Nietzsche


(Carl Ludwig Nietzsche,
Nietzsche’s father)


The boy does not remember the Röcken home dominated by women, but only the image of the father, idealized on par as it gradually fades out. The pious rural cleric remains completely safe from the uprising against Christianity, which would be the true mission of Nietzsche from his eighteen years. Since then, his father is for him an “ethereal angel.” One of the qualities that he has inherited from him is the kindness, the renunciation of revenge for nobility. So in the late self-portraiture of Ecce homo we read that, in case of offense, Nietzsche prohibits himself “any retaliation, any measure of defense.”

[Chechar’s note: Those who have read the passages of Alice Miller in The Untouched Key as to why Nietzsche went mad—just imagine a self-proclaimed Antichrist who, simultaneously, never defended himself before the father clergyman!—would treasure passages such as these.]

Another inherited quality is the love of music. In a postcard to Peter Gast [Heinrich Köselitz] of the time of Zarathustra an observation is included: “It is raining in torrents, music gets me away. I like that music and the way I like it is something I cannot explain based on my experiences: rather based on my father. And why should not…?”

The phrase is cut, but can be completed with another of Ecce homo in which he says: Why should not I continue to live in him and he in me after his untimely death?

And he was no less mystical in his later years, when he conceived the doctrine of eternal recurrence, so he could skip the generational order to become a descendant of Napoleon, Caesar or Alexander. But the same process also allowed otherwise: the mysterious identification with the father, either in the agonizing fear of premature death and madness, either in the gut, not even confessed to his friend Gast, that having survived the fateful thirty-third year of his life he would merge with his father to form a single figure with him.

The family was assured that Fritz (short for Friedrich) would be clergyman as the father. His mother, who was not limited to accompany him to the bed but every night carried him into it, panting said, “If you continue like this I’ll have to carry you up to bed until you study theology.” Fritz, meanwhile, was a precocious and obedient child; knew by heart passages of the Bible and religious songs so that their local school classmates called him the little shepherd. He was no friend of other children, and in school they laughed at him but then, at home, spoke wonders of the little sage.

Young Nietzsche, whose strange factions made one think of an owl, had an excellent performance. An anecdote belonging to the repertoire of Elisabeth [Nietzsche’s sister] tells us that, at one point, it started raining and as everyone ran from school to their homes, he continued to walk at a leisurely pace with the board over his hat and scarf on the blackboard. When Nietzsche got home was completely soaked. That why he had not run like the others? Well, because the school regulations say that, after school, children should go to their houses quietly and politely. The story seems credible; it was not normal behavior, but a show of obedience directed against his classmates’ behavior.

The little shepherd never tires of reciting pious maxims, edifying virtuous desires and prayers. Words like purpose, wise decision of God, beneficent hand of God, heavenly father come out of his lips with astonishing naturalness.

The strongest impressions were those that religious music gave Nietzsche. In the misty autumn evenings, the boy came sneaking into the cathedral to witness the rehearsals of the Requiem for the day of the dead; he was overwhelmed to hear the Dies irae and was deeply delighted with the Benedictus. It was not just a childish impulse that led him at fourteen, in Schulpforta, to write in all seriousness motets, chorale melodies and fugues and even try a Missa for solo, chorus and orchestra. At sixteen Nietzsche outlined a Miserere for five voices and, finally, began a Christmas oratory on which he worked for two years.

At seventeen, the son of the pastor received confirmation. His classmate Deussen, also a son of pastor says the two maintained a pious attitude, away from the world. They were willing to die immediately to go to meet Jesus. When his friend Wilhelm Pinder received confirmation, Nietzsche wrote: “With the promise you walk into the line of Christian adults who are considered worthy of the most precious legacy of our Savior, and through their enjoyment of life, achieve happiness of the soul.” Not even from the pastor’s pen would have come such pious words.

In High School Nietzsche had an “excellent” in religion. The commentary reports confirm that the student has shown, along with a good understanding of the New Testament, a keen interest in the doctrine of Christian salvation which he has easily and solidly assimilated, and is also able to express himself clearly on the subject.

The above was extracted from one of the first chapters of Ross’ book. Unlike Curt Paul Janz, hundreds of pages later Ross only dedicates a few paragraphs to Nietzsche’s life after his breakdown. He writes:

Nietzsche’s biography ends in the early days of 1889, although his life was extended until August 25, 1900. Paralyzed and demented, he died of pneumonia.

On August 10, 1889 Nietzsche entered the psychiatric clinic of the University of Basel; a week later he is taken to the Jena University Clinic where he remains for about fifteen months, and on March 24, 1890 he is discharged in writing and sent home. Nietzsche remains under the care of his mother until her death in 1897. In July 1897 the sister purchases a Weimar villa, “Silberblick,” for the Nietzsche Archive and in it she installs the patient.

About the demented Nietzsche several persons issued reports: (1) Turin dentist, Dr. Bettmann, who with Overbeck brought Nietzsche to Basel; (2) the diaries of Basel and Jena for the sick by the physician (and later professor) Ziehen; (2) the mother in his letters to Professor Overbeck, and (4) friends and visitors, from Gast to Deussen and from Overbeck to Resa von Schirnhofer.

The extracts that follow from 1889-1892 show on one hand the state of the disorder, but on the other they shed light on the “healthy” Nietzsche, specifically those oppressed and repressed aspects that madness liberated.

Dentist Bettmann’s opinion, in Turin:

The patient is usually excited, he asks much food but is unable to do something and take care of himself. He claims to be a famous man, and constantly asks a woman for him.

Basel journal for the sick, January 1889:

He only answers partially and incompletely or not at all to the questions addressed to him, insisting in his confused verbiage nonstop.

First day at Jena, January 19, 1889:

The patient walks on the department with many bows of courtesy. With majestic step, staring at the ceiling, enters the room and gives thanks for the “great reception.” He doesn’t know where he is.

Extracts from the diary for the sick at Jena, from January to October 1889:

He wants his compositions to be premiered. He has little understanding or memory of ideas or passages from his works. He always identifies the physicians correctly. He proclaims himself now Duke of Cumberland, now Emperor, etc… “At last I have been Frederick William IV,” “My wife Cosima Wagner has brought me here.” “At night they have uttered curses against me, have used the most horrible mechanisms.” “I want a gun if there is any truth in the suspicion that the very Grand Duchess commits these filthy acts and attacks on me.”

At night we always have to isolate him. He often smears himself with excrement. He eats excrements. He urinates in his boot or glass and drinks the urine or smears himself with it. Once he smeared a leg with excrement. He wraps excrements in paper and puts it all in the drawer of a table.

The mother to Overbeck, April 8, 1889:

About an hour ago my son has been taken to the department of the peaceful sick… The greatest joy you can provide is to speak in Italian or French to him… Gone are the ideas of grandeur that initially made him so happy…

On March 24, 1890 the mother takes Nietzsche out of the center to live with him in Jena. On one occasion Nietzsche undresses in public with intent of swimming and a guard is hired, who follows at a distance mother and son when they go for a walk. On June 17, 1890 she writes to Overbeck:

He plays a little of music every day, partly his small compositions or songs of an old book of songs… The religious sentiment is asserted more and more in him. During Pentecost, when we were sitting quietly in the balcony with me holding an old Bible [he says] that in Turin he had studied the whole Bible and taken thousands of notes, when I read this or that psalm; this or that chapter, I expressed surprise that he knew the Bible so thoroughly.

From 1892 Nietzsche can no longer feed himself. He has to be washed and dressed. The walks have to be abandoned because Nietzsche shouts and hits everything on his way. In 1894 Nietzsche recognizes Deussen, but in 1895 he no longer recognizes Overbeck.

In madness it clearly appears a regression to infantile and juvenile stages. In the time of megalomania Dionysus and Zarathustra are totally excluded. Instead it reappears Frederick William IV [discussed in Ross’ earlier chapters], and Nietzsche says to his mother he is twenty-two. The last letter to Jacob Burckhardt is written by a “student.” His fears (the light should remain lit at night, the door must be closed) belong to an early childhood stage, like the “magic of the pieces of glass.” It is also noteworthy the return to the old religion and a fearful, even radical avoidance of everything philosophical. As a sick man Nietzsche is an obedient or uninhibited child.

At the end he completely sinks into apathy.

nietzsche_demented

The mother, fearful, “limited” (as seen in the Basel clinic) was at first mean, although she continued to receive Nietzsche’s pension. But when he was with her she cared for him, protected and looked after him with motherly love. Friedrich then again became what in her opinion should have always been: her little child.

Pinocchio, 2

Spanish version of this article: here, an article originally written on November 2012. Why I am starting this new series is explained: here.

>Pinocho y Alice Miller


Mankind sees things in photographic negative about childrearing: it’s all backwards, and only those who have deeply assimilated Alice Miller’s legacy have noticed it. Perhaps the most splendid paradigm, in stories, of what Miller called poisonous pedagogy or adult-child projection is precisely the original story by Carlo Collodi.

Pinocchio is nothing more than the transformation of the pure feelings of a child into adult madness; for example, by going to schools where children’s souls are murdered and the child is socialized so that he finally sacrifices his sanity in search for the affection of parental figures, symbolized by the carpenter and the Blue Fairy.

Let’s see. The heading of Chapter IV states: “The story of Pinocchio and the Talking Cricket, in which one sees that bad children do not like to be corrected by those who know more than they do.”

Head over heels—everything in photographic negative! How I wish that my Whispering Leaves were sold out so that I could, by now, be writing the book I had dreamt since the beginning: pure narrative without using hundreds of pages to introduce the reader to the legacy of Miller, deMause and the critics of psychiatry.

Here is a passage of the Collodi tale, poisonous pedagogy in its purest form:

“Woe to boys who refuse to obey their parents and run away from home!” [Chapter IV]

The passage obviously presupposes that the parents (who beat their children or torment them emotionally and ocassionally even rape them) are always right and benign with their children: the opposite of what we saw in the previous entry showing the dark side of Geppetto, a side only noticed by the neighbors who knew him in the story. And what is worse, the domestic abuse is often supported by the abuse at school, so Pinocchio says to the cricket:

“If I stay here the same thing will happen to me which happens to all other boys and girls. They are sent to school, and whether they want to or not, they must study…” [Ibid]

To which the voice of the system, symbolized by the cricket who wants to instill a consciousness of black pedagogy into the child, responds:

“If you do not like going to school, why don’t you at least learn a trade…?” [Ibid]

That is a great insult; not bona fide council as adults often utter these sort of words not out of genuine empathy for the kids.

When I was a child I wanted to be a filmmaker. Kubrick, who dropped out from school, was my idol. Alas, in my late teens my parents put me in a medieval school system and I could not become either (1) a filmmaker or (2) get what they wanted: a college degree either. The mandatory school system was the barrier that destroyed my professional life. Unlike Kubrick, no “Uncle Jacob” appeared in my life to sponsor my filming career since Christian families don’t help their relatives as much as kike families do (cf. MacDonald’s first book of his trilogy).

More recently, this year in fact, I heard my brother angrily telling his child that if my nephew did not want to study at a conventional school, he should seek a trade, and mentioned a supermarket boy (something similar to what the Cricket proposed). My brother’s advice was not directed in an empathic way: it was an obvious act of psychological aggression as no one in his right mind wants to be an errand kid that only earns a few cents.

Going back to my life, if my parents had any empathy with the potential filmmaker I was as a kid, they would have supported my immigration to the US, and instead of spending money at a Mexican school, send me those scarce funds to complete my expenses near Hollywood. But no: the unconscious desire of my mother was to destroy the individualistic mind of her firstborn, as I recount in my Leaves.

Disney’s film is nonsense intended to beautify the crudeness of the Italian text. In Collodi’s original story the cricket’s advice was so insulting that Pinocchio grabbed a hammer of Geppetto’s workshop and threw it toward the damned bug, who “stayed stiff and flat against the wall”: precisely what I did as an adolescent.

Pinocchio, 1

Spanish version of this article: here, an article originally written on November 2012. Why I am starting this new series is explained: here.

>Pinocho y Alice Miller


In my blog in Spanish I said that I had recently watched again Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence. Well, now that I lost my computer for a while, while it is in the shop and still write in a borrowed laptop, I decided to return to my childhood classics. (Sometimes it’s refreshing to forget the net and have direct contact with printed books.)

Artificial Intelligence is clearly a fairy tale inspired, in part, in Pinocchio and set in the future. I would suggest fans of Alice Miller to read the original story in an edition whose drawings respect Carlo Collodi’s tale.

Here is my Spanish-English translation of a passage from the preface of the splendid 1965 edition in Spanish that my father read to me and my brothers when we were little ones:

The error or the superficiality of many editions of Pinocchio lies mainly in the fact that the illustrations give primary attention for graphic designs, but without a clear interlocking with the text. In our edition, by contrast, the drawings have been made expressly in Tuscany, where the author imagined his masterpiece.

I sent the old serial installments of Editorial Codex to be bound by a traditional bookbinder: the very same issues that my father read us decades ago. Here I quote some passages that portray why the original story of Pinocchio is a perfect case of what Alice Miller called poisonous pedagogy:

“Geppetto had a very bad temper.” [Chapter II]

Pinocchio has not yet appeared and the story reveals the personality of its maker. Like many other distortions, the image of Geppetto in the Disney film as a kind old man grossly distorts Collodi’s tale.

But the Collodi tale distorts reality too, reversing colors like a photographic negative of what happens in the real world. Consider for example the following passage of poisonous pedagogy, in the sense of adult projections on a child unsure of himself, represented by the wooden puppet who aspires to become real. Anyone who has assimilated a little psychohistory knows that it is the parents who, over the millennia, have abused their children; not vice versa. As narrated in the birth of Pinocchio:

At that unexpected trick, Geppetto became very sad and downcast, more so than he had ever been before.

“Pinocchio, you wicked boy!” he cried out. “You are not yet finished, and you start out by being impudent to your poor old father. Very bad, my son, very bad!”
And he wiped away a tear. [Chapter III]

Of course: in real life it is parents who abuse the newborns; never, ever the other way. Collodi’s story is fiction, obviously, but in my opinion it perfectly reflects aspects in the dynamics Collodi had to bear with his own mother, with whom he lived all his life. After Pinocchio was “born” and escaped into the streets, the story goes:

“Poor Marionette,” called out a man. “I am not surprised he doesn’t want to go home. Geppetto, no doubt, will beat him unmercifully, he is so mean and cruel!”

“Geppetto looks like a good man,” added another, “but with boys he’s a real tyrant. If we leave that poor Marionette in his hands he may tear him to pieces!” [Chapter III]

He may tear him to pieces! The neighbors knew that this was how an acquaintance of them behaved. Although in that passage Collodi puts Geppetto as the victim, and Pinocchio as a miscreant who despised a loving father, the neighbors knew better. In real life, of course, runaway children do so because of horrific abuse at home. As I have had dealings with these children in Mexico City I have the impression that behind every street child, even those who I haven’t interviewed, there is a horror story at home.

It is very instructive that Collodi inverts reality in a story meant to subjugate the will of the child before the omnipotent adult. That is precisely the reason that his story became a bestseller in a world dominated by parents who want to “educate” their children through poisonous pedagogy.

WDH’s recent focus

I have been asked why the recent focus of The West’s Darkest Hour on Nietzsche. I replied that my intention is to explain (1) the “transvaluation of all values” (Nietzsche’s ultimate philosophy) and (2) “poisonous pedagogy” which goes together with the “trauma model of mental disorders” (illustrated in Nietzsche’s life).

As to #2, I believe that one of the ingredients of the witches’ brew that is killing whites is the toll of child abuse in the adult. In the white nationalist movement no one has suspected this. A few months ago Alex Kurtagic wrote on The Occidental Observer that the engulfing behavior of Jewish mothers towards their male children explained the haughty behavior of the grown-up Jew. But Kurtagic and the rest of writers of the pro-white blogosphere have failed to ask what could the engulfing behavior of white mothers cause on their white children.

I am the only one in the movement who has written on the implications of the trauma model on white pathology. See for example my seminal article, “A body-snatched Spaniard.” I even plan to translate to English the rest of my book Hojas susurrantes, the most didactic and comprehensive explanation of the model under a single cover.

However, since that kind of literature is very strong meat indeed, and since pro-white advocates are uninterested in the subject, I better start introducing it by means of baby steps, like my next series of entries on Carlo Collodi’s novel for children.

Pinocchio

The original Pinocchio tale by Collodi is must reading. A 1880 magazine series (Disney’s 1940 film is a betrayal of the original Italian tale), Collodi projected his feelings for his abusive parents onto the characters of the very manipulative Blue Fairy and Geppetto.

In chapter XV Pinocchio is hanged in front of the Blue Fairy mansion and the motherly Fairy didn’t help him at all. The wooden puppet exclaimed Jesus-like words on the cross:

The editor asked Collodi to rescue Pinocchio in the following issue of the magazine.

As a child Collodi had been tormented in a Jesuit school (incidentally, as a child my father was also tormented in a Jesuit school). Since Collodi (like my father) never settled accounts with the perpetrators, he later identified himself with them; hated the children, illustrated boring school textbooks for them and always lived with his manipulative “Blue Fairy” mother.

The original Le Avventure di Pinocchio is poisonous pedagogy at its worst. The parents and the school system are idealized at the expense of the child’s true self. (Later in my series on Nietzsche you will see the relevance of the Prussian pedagogy applied to the child Nietzsche by his mother and other female figures and his adult breakdown.) A major bestseller, Collodi’s novel was used to manipulate and socialize children in the early 20th century.

In future entries I will show that together with the German biographers of Nietzsche I will be quoting, Alice Miller is the obliged reference to understand “poisonous pedagogy” and ultimately my interpretation of both Pinocchio and many people who have suffered mental breakdowns.

Clark’s humanness

From Kenneth Clark’s The Other Half: A Self-Portrait (ellipsis omitted between unquoted excerpts):


The last words of the programme were shot in Saltwood, in my study. As if in sympathy the camera broke down, and a new one had to be sent from London. But at last the final words were spoken, including the prophetic lines by Yeats, which I had heard him read soon after he had written them; I walked in to my library, patted a wooden figure by Henry Moore, as if to imply that there still was hope, and out of shot.

It was all over. The crew came over to the Castle for a drink. We had become a band of brothers and were not far from tears at the thought that we should not meet again. I may be fanciful, but I think something of this feeling of comradeship is perceptible in the film. It seems ridiculous to say that the happiest years of my life took place when I was sixty-eight, but so it was.

The communication with simple people was one of the things about the programmes that particularly annoyed intellectuals of the left, who believed that they had a prescriptive right to speak to the working classes. Academics were furious at the simplification of their labours. In fact my approach to history was unconsciously different from that now in favour in universities, which sees all historical change as the result of economic and communal pressures. I believe in the importance of individuals, and am a natural hero-worshiper. Each programme had its hero—Charlemagne, the Abbot Suger, Alberti, Erasmus, Luther and Montaigne, Mozart, Voltaire, Jefferson, Rousseau, Wordsworth, and finally Brunel. One whole programme is called The Hero as Artist. The majority of people share my taste for heroes, and so were glad of an historical survey that emphasised outstanding individuals rather than economic trends.

When the series was shown in the U.S.A. things got out of hand. The number of letters quadrupled, and some of them were rather dotty.

When I arrived in Georgetown to stay with my old friends David and Margie Finley, Carter Brown, the Director of the Gallery [National Gallery at Washington], rang me to say ‘For God’s sake don’t go in through the front door. You’ll be mobbed’. I went in by the back door and down a long underground corridor to a press conference. After it was over I was led back along the same corridor so that I might walk the whole length of the Gallery upstairs. It was the most terrible experience in my life. All the galleries were crammed full of people who stood up and roared at me, waving their hands and stretching them out towards me.

I then went downstairs and retired to the ‘gents’, where I burst into tears. I sobbed and howled for a quarter of an hour. I suppose politicians quite enjoy this kind of experience, and don’t get it often enough. The Saints certainly enjoyed it, but saints are very tough eggs. To me it was utterly humiliating. It simply made me feel a hoax. I came up to lunch with red eyes, and tried to put the experience out of my mind. But, as the reader will have realised, it would not let go, and has not gone. And I record it because I must be one of the few ordinary, normal men on whom this kind of experience has been inflicted. The Finleys drove me home in silence. They felt as embarrassed as I did.

Speech on receiving the National Gallery of Art medal

When I tried to read the great German philosophers, I turned over the pages of Kant and Hegel, and I couldn’t make head or tail of them. I felt absolutely frustrated and humiliated, but I had to go until I thought I understood something, and at least acquired a new mental process.

Now although I believe that this part of education is the most important part, it has a great defect. One may achieve intellectual discipline, but one doesn’t remember a single thing that one learnt in that way, because one doesn’t absorb it. I can’t translate the simplest Latin inscription, and if you ask me what Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is about I couldn’t tell you.

Education has another aspect—what you learn through delight. It is by falling in love with a subject, a period, a style, an individual hero, that one absorbs something so that it becomes a part of one’s living tissue, and one never forgets it. ‘Give all to love,’ your great underrated poet said. It’s true of education as well of life. And the first advice I would give to any young person is, when you fall in love with Roman baroque or with the essays of Montaigne or with whatever it may be, give up everything to study that one, all-absorbing theme of the moment, because your mind is in a plastic condition. A plastic period usually takes place between the ages of about fifteen to the age of twenty-two; and anyone who is learning at that moment will never forget what he has learnt. Read and read, look and look; you will never be able to do it so intensely again. I often wonder if in the last fifty years of grubbing away and reading in galleries and libraries I’ve learned anything compared to what came to me in those plastic moments.

My goodness, if people really began to be sceptical and use their minds, in order to see through cant and humbug and after self-serving lies, advertisers and public relations men and a number of politicians, and even a few favourable philosophers, would be out of business. And the way that education does this is not only by training people to use their minds, but by teaching them history. When you read history you learn that people in the past were just as clever as we are, in fact at some periods they were a good deal cleverer.

I would like to think that these programmes have done two things: they have made people feel that they are part of a great human achievement, and be proud of it, and they have made them feel humble in thinking of the great men of the past.

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