Life and Government in Sparta


Geographically isolated by mountain ranges and the sea, Sparta was able to become one of the two most dominant ancient Greek cities, along with Athens. Spartan government was stable, which was made possible by a system of checks and balances. Sparta fostered a way of life that demanded total dedication to the political community. These factors were essential to Sparta’s extraordinary military success.


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Paul A. Rahe is the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Professor in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College. He earned his B.A. in history and Ph.D. in ancient Greek history at Yale University, and he read Litterae Humaniores at Oxford University. He is the author of several books, including Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution, Against Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory under the English Republic, and Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect. He is co-editor of Montesquieu’s Science of Politics: Essays on the Spirit of Laws and editor of Machiavelli’s Liberal Republican Legacy. In November 2015, Yale University Press released his new book, The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge, and in the fall of 2016 Yale will publish The Spartan Regime.