Religion, Death and Burial in Spartan Society Essay

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Pages: 4

Religion, death and burial

Religion played a central role in Spartan society in the ancient world. In addition to being well known for their fierce fighting force, Spartans were well known amongst other Greek city-states for their devotion and serious attitude towards religion and the gods. Because of their strict devotion to religious practises, they were often mocked by other Greek states. The gods were to be obeyed completely and were to be respected completely by all Spartans, though in theory, this relationship between the Spartans and the gods was believed to have been based on mutual respect. Religion was seen as a way of combining the gods with everyday social and political/governmental aspects of Spartan society, so much so
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It was Spartan custom that each Spartan would mourn any deaths for a strict period of 11 days, then on the twelfth day a sacrifice was made to Demeter (the Greek goddess of harvest and the cycle of life and death). This sacrifice signified the end of grieving. If death of the king occurred, Spartan horsemen travelled across Laconia to spread the news. Herodotus noted that;
News of the death is carried by riders all over the country, and women go the rounds of the capital beating cauldrons. This is the signal for two people, one man and one woman, from every citizen’s household to put on mourning – which they are compelled to do under penalty of heavy fine.
At the king’s funeral, thousands of Laconians are forced to attend and show great signs of grief. If the king was killed in battle, a statue is made in his honour which is placed at his burial. Burials of Spartans were held within the city, unlike that of most other Greek city states such as Athens who buried their citizens outside the city. This was done in Sparta to encourage its people not to fear death, but embrace it.

In conclusion, this essay has demonstrated the importance of religion in Spartan society. Examples have been provided along with written sources from ancient writers identifying Spartan