What Were the Social Classes of Ancient Greece Sparta?

In ancient Greece, the city-state of Sparta was known for its strict social hierarchy. The society was divided into three main classes: the citizens, the perioikoi, and the helots. Each class had a distinct role to play in Spartan society.

The Citizens:
The citizens of Sparta were the ruling class. They were also known as Spartiates.

These were men who were born in Sparta and had completed their rigorous military training. They were expected to devote their lives to military service and were not allowed to engage in any form of paid labor or trade. Instead, their basic needs were provided by the state.

The Perioikoi:
The perioikoi, or “dwellers around,” were free men who lived in the surrounding areas of Sparta. They did not have full citizenship rights but were allowed to engage in trade and commerce. Many of them worked as craftsmen and traders and played an important role in the economy of Sparta.

The Helots:

The helots were a class of people who lived in Sparta but did not have any rights or freedoms. They were essentially slaves who worked on the land owned by Spartan citizens. The helots outnumbered the Spartans by a significant margin, and this made them a constant source of fear for the ruling class.

  • Helots could be bought and sold like property
  • They had no say in how they were governed
  • They could be killed by Spartan citizens without any consequence

The social classes of ancient Greece’s Sparta served as a way for its rulers to maintain control over its people while ensuring that everyone had a specific role to play within society. The citizens held all political power while the perioikoi contributed economically and the helots provided the labor needed to maintain Spartan society. Understanding these classes is crucial to understanding the unique culture of Sparta.