When we think of the Spartans, we come to mind images of films in which courageous and ascetic warriors fight for Sparta . We also think about the eugenics that the collective imaginary attributes to them from Plutarco's story: they killed children born with some problem. However, many historians and researchers have asked about the Spartans and the myth of the murdered babies , it was real? Join us to know what they have found out.
The Spartans and the myth of the murdered babies
Much of what we know about life and education in Sparta, has come to us from the historian, philosopher and biographer Plutarch. This Greek author, great traveler, who obtained Roman citizenship, lived between the first and second centuries of our era. In his work "Parallel Lives", in volume I, we find a chapter dedicated to the Life of Lycurgus and in it a description of the customs of Sparta. He relates it like this: "A son was born, the father was not the owner of raising him, but taking him in his arms, he took him to a place called Lesca, where the oldest of the tribe sat, they recognized the child, and if he was well trained and robust, they arranged for him to be raised by giving him one of the nine thousand lots; but if they found him degenerate and monstrous, they ordered him to take what were called apotetas or expositorios, a deep place next to the Taygetus; "
The Spartan eugenics it was apparently destined to obtain strong and healthy citizens and that did not suppose a drag and a useless wear to the city. The elders examined it in the Lesjé (the arcades) and if they did not find it sufficiently robust and healthy what they threw from the top of Mount Taygetus or they left him exposed there for several days. If the child passed the test he was returned to his family to be raised.
A few years ago archaeological excavations were carried out in the area where the Spartan babies considered "unfit" were apparently thrown and nothing could be corroborated about the Spartans and the myth of the babies killed . They did not find any newborn bones at the foot of Mount Taygetus, in the place where the children were supposedly thrown.
Theodoros Pitsios, an anthropologist at the Faculty of Medicine of Athens, studied for 5 years the human remains extracted from the side of Mount Taygetus , from the place known as "Apotetes" and only found remains of adolescents and adults between 18 and 35 years. For the anthropologist, it was Plutarch who spread the legend during the first century AD. to emphasize the military character of Sparta. The bones studied by him correspond to the sixth and fifth centuries BC. Y correspond to 46 men . This would corroborate other ancient sources that speak about the Spartan custom of throwing in that place traitors, prisoners or criminals.
Actually, there is no physical evidence to confirm the myth of the Spartans and the babies killed However, some historians point out that this custom could be true, since in Rome and in other ancient societies it was also customary to let babies die who were considered not fit enough for the hard life that awaited them. What do you think? Do you think the myth of the Spartans is true? If you want to know more about Sparta, we invite you to read: The hard life of the Ilotas, slaves of the Spartans .