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Lycurgus' Spartan Training System
March 25th, 2023


In ancient Greece, the city-state of Sparta was renowned for its powerful warriors and military prowess. Central to this reputation was the Agoge, an innovative and rigorous system of education and training introduced by the legendary lawgiver Lycurgus. In this blog post, we will explore the intricate methods behind Lycurgus' Spartan training system, examining its various stages, the unique approach to discipline and competitiveness, and the social norms that ensured the readiness of Spartan soldiers.

The Agoge: A Comprehensive and Revolutionary System

Lycurgus believed that a successful and functioning society depended on healthy, disciplined, and able-bodied individuals. With this in mind, he developed the Agoge, a system designed to mold every young Spartan citizen—both male and female—into the perfect warriors.

The Agoge had three age categories for boys: children (7-12), adolescents (13-19), and young adults (20-29). Each stage emphasized different aspects of their training:

  • Children: In the first stage, young Spartans learned about letters, music, poetry, singing, and sport. This stage was similar to a modern boarding school, with a communal and structured approach to education.
  • Adolescents: As the boys entered puberty, Lycurgus recognized the need for increased discipline and physical training. Adolescents underwent more hardships and labor, learning to fight with weapons, march collectively in silence, and engage in collective war dances (known as pyrrhichios) to strengthen their bodies and improve balance and cohesion.
  • Young Adults: This stage was the most crucial in Lycurgus' system. The young men were pushed to their limits, fostering a strong sense of competitiveness and teamwork. Leaders were assigned to select the best warriors for their teams, and these groups would compete against one another in various activities, pushing each member to excel.

Lycurgus' Unique Approach to Discipline and Competitiveness

The Agoge was, above all, a school of obedience. Strict discipline and respect were instilled in Spartan children from a young age. Boys were accustomed to being respectful to everyone, speaking only when spoken to, and walking with a gaze that demonstrated their obedience.

Resourcefulness was another key component of Spartan training. Boys were encouraged to steal to develop cunning and adaptability but were punished if caught. This approach helped build their resistance to hunger, pain, and other hardships.

Fostering competitiveness and teamwork was also central to Lycurgus' system. Teams of young men, chosen by strong leaders, would compete against one another in various activities. This healthy rivalry pushed each Spartan to their limits, ensuring optimal performance on the battlefield.

The Social Norms of Spartan Society

Even after completing their physical training, Lycurgus ensured that Spartans maintained their readiness for battle and pursuit of excellence through various social norms:

  • Hunting: This popular leisure activity simulated military hardships and encouraged Spartans to remain physically fit and mentally aware.
  • Marriage and Childbearing: Spartans were only allowed to marry and have children when they were in peak condition, ensuring the strongest possible offspring.
  • Cowardice and Disgrace: Those who fled from battle faced a lifetime of dishonor and punishment, further motivating Spartans to die in battle rather than live as cowards.


Lycurgus' innovative Spartan training system transformed the citizens of Sparta into a society of formidable warriors, able to stand undefeated for over 150 years. Through the rigorous Agoge, strict discipline, and strong social norms, every Spartan became a disciplined, resourceful, and physically fit individual. While the methods may seem brutal and excessive by modern standards, the impressive results achieved


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