Agoge and Ephebeia – Education and Military Training in Ancient Greece

Ever since Zack Snyder’s “300” at the latest, Sparta has been a household name for the general public. The 300 Spartans, who are literally bred into fighting machines through rigorous training from childhood onwards, have permanently shaped the image of the ancient polis. The adjective “Spartan”, which is still used today to describe particularly harsh or meagre conditions, testifies to the fact that Sparta was already known at least in parts of the population outside the guild of historians. n this paper, the training, education and upbringing system of the Spartans, the so-called Agoge (literally “rearing” (Thommen 20172, p.108)), will be presented in detail and compared with the education of young Athenian men, including the Ephebeia, a kind of military “basic training”, which is surprisingly similar to the Agoge in some features.

The Origins of the Ancient Greeks

The ancient Greeks hold a special place within the history of Europe and the west, as the cradle of civilization, philosophy and science. But where did this sophisticated people come from?