Everyday Life- daily life, leisure activities and food
The daily life in Sparta was quite different for men and women. Whilst men were expected to take an active part in their public life of their city, women were expected to lead a private life as wives and mothers. Their lives were mainly focused on the home. However, daily life in Sparta was fairly different from most other city-states. The women led more active lives, as this would improve their physical strength and their ability to have healthy babies. Whereas, the all the male citizens participated in the compulsory education system at the age of 7, where they devoted their lives to military service, and lived communally well into adulthood. Sparta also had slaves (helots) but they belonged to the city as a whole, rather than to individual families.
“ The Spartans did not have to worry about the production of food, the tiling of land or the care of livestock, this was all done for them by Sparta’s large Helot population. Neither did the Spartans have to develop crafts skills or be concerned about producing anything whether it be weapons or pots or furniture, this was the preserve of the Perioikoi.” This source by Ken Webb reveals that this allowed the daily lives of Spartiates to be fully focused on their elite military training, also allowing more time for recreational and leisure activities.
The nature of Spartiates lives allowed them to enjoy a vast range of leisure activities in their spare time, most of which were focused on developing skills that could improve fitness and be useful in battle. Athletics was a much enjoyed leisure activity of Sparta, it allowed citizens to maintain the preferred physical form and enhance their skills. These activities included wrestling, running, jumping, discus, boxing and javelin. Spartans also enjoyed hunting as it put in practice skills required to be a good soldier and supplied a meal in most cases. The most common animals that were hunted were hares, which were caught by the aid of dogs or helots with nets, and deers, which were, stalked and killed.
Banqueting and religious celebrations and duties were another leisure activity evident in Spartan vases of gathering, dancing and sacrificial ritual. In Sparta, horses were greatly admired; Equestrian was a popular recreational activity as it was a sport where it was both a chance for the demonstration of a rider’s skills and endurance and an outlet for the competitive display of wealth invested in beautiful horses. Also, Boar and cock fighting was a popular leisure activity among Spartans. Strong game birds that were aggressive were symbolic of the masculinity that was much valued in Spartan society.
The Food and Diet of the Spartans was humble and basic as the local resources of the Greek landscape limited them. Natural food, grown locally by the helots was where most of the Spartan diet would come from. Common foods