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Main article: History of Sparta

The recorded history of Sparta began with the Dorian invasions, when the Peloponnesus was settled by Greek tribes coming from Epirus and Macedonia through the northeast region of Greece, submitting or displacing the older Achaean Greek inhabitants.[1] The Mycenaean Sparta of Menelaus described in Homer's Iliad was an older Greek civilization, whose link to Hellenic or Classical Sparta was only by name and location.[1] What is widely known today as ancient Sparta refers to state and culture that were formed in Sparta by the Dorian Greeks, some eighty years after the Trojan War.[citation needed]


It did not take long for Sparta to subdue all cities in the region of Laconia and turn it into its kingdom. In the 7th century it also incorporated Messenia. In the 5th century BC, Sparta and Athens were reluctant allies against the Persians, but after the foreign threat was over, they soon became rivals. The greatest series of conflicts between the two states, which resulted in the dismantling of the Athenian Empire, is called the Peloponnesian War. Athenian attempts to control Greece and take over the Spartan role of 'guardian of Hellenism' ended in failure. Following the defeat of Athens, Sparta briefly became a great naval power. The first ever defeat of a Spartan hoplite army at full strength occurred at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, after which Sparta's position as the dominant Greek city-state swiftly disappeared with the loss of large numbers of Spartiates and the resources of Messenia. By the time of the rise of Alexander the Great in 336 BC, Sparta was a shadow of its former self, clinging to an isolated independence. During the Punic Wars Sparta was an ally of the Roman Republic. Spartan political independence was put to an end when it was eventually forced into the Achaean League.


After the Roman conquest of Greece, Spartans continued their way of life and the city became a tourist attraction for the Roman elite who came to observe the "unusual" Spartan customs. Supposedly, following the disaster that befell the Roman Imperial Army at the Battle of Adrianople (AD 378), a Spartan phalanx met and defeated a force of raiding Visigoths in battle.[citation needed] There is, however, no genuine evidence of this occurring.


Modern Sparti owes its existence to an 1834 decree of King Otto of Greece.



[edit] Rise and decline

Following the victory in the Second Messenian War of the seventh century, Sparta established itself as a local power in Peloponnesus and the rest of Greece. During the following centuries, Sparta's reputation as a land-fighting force was unequaled.[2] In 480 BC a small Spartan, Thespian, and Laconian unit under King Leonidas numbering at about 1,000-1,900 (appx. 300 of them being Spartans) ,[3] made a legendary last stand against a massive, invading Persian army causing a very high casualty rate in comparison to the Persian forces at the Battle of Thermopylae before eventually being encircled. The superior weaponry, strategy, and bronze armor



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Taken on October 11, 2007