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Spartan156

Sparta and Spartans in the Roman Empire

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I can give you a little more detail.

 

After its defeat by Thebes in 371 BCE, Sparta became a second rate power. It launched several internal reforms (losing its distinctive character in the process) and tried to regain its old glory - but to no avail. It was forced into the Achaean Confederacy in 195 BCE as a puppet.

 

Many Romans admired classical Sparta - certainly Hellenophobe Romans could not accuse Spartans of being dandies as they did with other Greeks. Rome supported the remains of Sparta, and Sparta became an enthusiastic supporter of Rome. With Rome's blessing, Sparta left the Achaean Confederacy. The Spartan leadership became official clients to Augustus. However, Sparta was by this time a shadow of its former self, and basically a tourist attraction for Roman citizens.

 

The city was sacked by Alaric in 396 CE and there, I believe, is where the city's significance to history ends.

 

 

PS - can a Trimumvir please move this to Hellenic forum?

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Welcome Sparta156!

 

This is interesting because I had always thought that Sparta under the control of Rome was considered nothing more than a strange little city where people could go and watch Spartan youths being beaten with sticks in a theatre, a sort of mockery of the old Spartan training regime.

 

I had always thought that the Romans had seen Sparta as a quaint, rather pathetic place. I didn't know that they had respect for it (but then considering Rome's love of strength and the military - I shouldn't have been that surprised.

Edited by DecimusCaesar

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I read somewhere that during the Imperial period, Spartans were enrolled as auxillia for service against the Parthians by the emperors Lucius Verus, Septimius Severus and Caracalla.

 

Does anybody have a source for this?

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I read somewhere that during the Imperial period, Spartans were enrolled as auxillia for service against the Parthians by the emperors Lucius Verus, Septimius Severus and Caracalla.

 

Does anybody have a source for this?

 

Dio Cassius in the terribly fradmented book 71 simply says...

Lucius, accordingly, went to Antioch and collected a large body of troops; then, keeping the best of the leaders under his personal command, he took up his own headquarters in the city, where he made all the dispositions and assembled the supplies for the war, while he entrusted the armies to Cassius.

 

The Historia Augusta doesn't mention it.

 

I can't find an online text of Herodian, though I doubt he would've mentioned it. (if anyone knows one, please add it)

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I've checked Herodian of Syria in the Ancient History Sourcebook and they only have a short section on Septimius Severus, I've also looked throught the catalouge on the 'Fectio' site as it usually has an extensive range of Roman and early medieval chroniclers' texts but I still couldn't find any mention.

 

I also read the section of Paul Cartledge's 'The Spartans' in the section on Sparta's realtions with Rome, but it only mentions Sparta's loyalty to the city and how the Spartans adopted many customs and religious ceremonies that would have had Leonidas spinning in his grave if he ever knew.

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I've also skimmed Dio's accounts of Severus and Caracalla as well as the Historia Augusta's accounts and can't find any mention of Spartans specifically.

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I've also skimmed Dio's accounts of Severus and Caracalla as well as the Historia Augusta's accounts and can't find any mention of Spartans specifically.

 

Likewise. Maybe there is some epigraphical evidence for Spartans serving under the Roman eagle.

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I've also skimmed Dio's accounts of Severus and Caracalla as well as the Historia Augusta's accounts and can't find any mention of Spartans specifically.

 

Likewise. Maybe there is some epigraphical evidence for Spartans serving under the Roman eagle.

 

Chances are that there were plenty of Spartans who joined the legions, but perhaps by that point (late 2nd century) they were largely citizens recruits and were not differentiated from any others.

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The site that informed me of these Spartan auxillia units clearly stated that Spartans were enrolled as auxillia by the emperor Lucius Verus for service against the Parthians, and at this point Roman citizenship did not go as far as Greece. Besides, even if Spartans were serving Rome's army after the enfranchisement of the Empire, the majority of military recruits, be they citizen or not, seemed to be joining the auxiliary force. Therefore, Spartans in the legions would have been an unlikely concept.

 

I have not completely given up on finding textual evidence for Spartan auxillia serving Rome, there may be a chance Pausanias mentions it in his Guide to Greece.

Edited by WotWotius

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Besides, even if Spartans were serving Rome's army after the enfranchisement of the Empire, the majority of military recruits, be they citizen or not, seemed to be joining the auxiliary force. Therefore, Spartans in the legions would have been an unlikely concept.

 

We don't know the origins of all the legions still in operation in the later 2nd century, but since there aren't any specific references to Sparta I'd agree that its unlikely for Spartans to have been legionaries in any mass quantity. (I meant only to suggest that individual and small unit replacements should be excepted.) Auxilia was made up almost entirely of cives peregrinae, not citizens, though.

 

Out of curiousity, do you have a link to the site?

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Out of curiousity, do you have a link to the site?

 

Click here and scroll down to the bottom. In the article there is no mention of an author, nor is a bibliography submitted; it is highly likely that the part about Spartan auxillia is a product of the writer's imagination. So we may in fact have been sent on a wild goose chase.

 

Either way, I am still going to scan some more sources.

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