The Lygurgue legislator would have given to Sparta towards 900 BC its oligarchical constitution, like its system of education, transforming the city in an aristocratic and military state.
Lycurgue would have brought back the constitution after having consulted the Pythea of Delphi, this “Large Rhêtra” was elaborate at the end of the long wars of Messenia, which would have weakened the whole of the city. It is founded on the eunomia (equality of the law for all) to solve dissatisfactions and privileges. But it results in a great discipline, where all the components of the city make sacrifices: the royalty, the aristocracy, and people.
The eunomia was the creation of a class of citizens, the “Equal ones”, among whom the land aristocracy was based. Thus, the aristocrats gave up their privileges to integrate the civic spartian body (from 7000 to 8000 Equal at VIth BC). The grounds of the aristocracy were redistributed in equal shares for each Equal: the kleros, which is inalienable and only the first wire male could inherited, cultivated by the serfs (Hilotes), the production being transferred with the owner, with a single aim of nourishing itself, it could not grow rich, nor to trade; their only activity being training and war. The equality was also translated in the system of education and each Equal profits from the same political rights while taking part in the Parliament. The population was thus divided into three classes:
- The Equal Ones: lords of war, owners of the ground and the governmental functions.
- Perieques: merchants, craftsmen, farmers. They were free while paying a tribe.
- Hilotes: serfs without legal statute. Very many. Mainly, they are forced to cultivate the Kleros, the ground, they can in rare cases being enrolled in the freed army. They are supposed to be the descendants of the local populations controlled at the time of the invasion of the territory. Each year, the magistrates of Sparta declared a formal war to them, way of controlling the risks of revolts by reaffirming their authority.
The assembly is the gathering of the Equal ones. Its role was to approve or not the proposals of the “gerousy” and the amendments submitted by the Ephores, without discussing them, apparently by acclamation. It also elects the ephores and the gerontes. Aristote considered its quasi-non-existent role.
The top of the State
At the top of the State, reigned two kings, chiefs of the armies, which were advised by 28 veterans (gerousy), as by the ephores which exerted the executive power.
The education of the Equal ones
They was the warriors, they could not carry other activities, alive in barracks where they were involved, nourished grass and roots during their formation.
The children of Equal entered in barracks at 7 years, they were beautiful and to be well formed, if not one threw them in the pit. Their education was severe and austere, to make them effective soldiers, obeying and devoted to the city.
They slept by ground, involved to fight, but also to fly for example. They were prompt to sacrifice, such Leonidas and to his companions in Thermopyles in 480 BC.
Arrived at the adulthood, 19 years, they were to undergo the test of the "cryptia", where abandoned without resources in the countryside after being whipped, they have to prove their virility by killing Hilotes which they would meet after dust. Then they were in the army. It is only at 30 years old that they could settle in family, while continuing the training up to 60 years