Sparta is often noted for its cultural contrasts with Athens, its chief rival during Hellenistic times. Sparta was hostile to Athenian civilization, rejecting all Athens' cultural norms. For example, while Athens developed a complex court system which established several principles of modern jurisprudence, Spartans simply went around stabbing people to death hoping one of them might have been a criminal. Similarly, upon receiving news that Athens had developed the toga, an innovative garment useful for hiding one's penis, Spartans responded by collectively showing everybody their penises.
The pre-history of Sparta is difficult to reconstruct, because no one wrote it down, which is what makes it pre-history.
Legend has it that during the eighth century BCE, Sparta was a lawless state where anarchy reigned. Roving bands of Greco-Roman wrestlers wandered the unpaved streets, harassing olive vendors by wrestling them to the ground and pinning them. The olive vendors responded by hiring their own Greco-Roman wrestlers to serve as bodyguards, and soon, wrestling became not only the national sport of pre-historic Sparta, but also the only real means of communication. Legend has it the currency of Sparta was the headlock, and the most common salutation was to sit upon the saluted party's face.
From this chaos emerged the great mythical leader Lycurgus, who taught the Spartans sustainable farming techniques, bronze working, and the fact that women existed, causing a major population boom throughout Spartan territory. Soon, Spartans came to realize that spontaneous bouts of street wrestling were uncivilized, and developed a rich culture based on running other Greeks through with bronze spears.
The abduction of Helen
Barely a century after the discovery of women, the Spartans managed to produce one who was kind of hot and named her Helen. As dictated by Spartan culture, Helen was forcibly married to Sparta's king, a bear of a man named Menelaus. For a time, their marriage was uneventful, but, eventually, Helen grew tired of the fact that Menelaus's foreplay consisted of throwing her into a well and kneeing her in the stomach while bellowing "SPARTA!" and that the intercourse was not much better, as it generally concluded with a donkey punch.
Unsurprisingly, Helen soon ran away with a Trojan suitor named Paris, prompting Menelaus to order a thousand ships full of armed Spartans sent to Troy to do some serious fucking stabbing. Over the next decade, the leading cause of death in Troy, "heart disease", was replaced with "stabbed by Spartan". Worse still, mortality rates approached one hundred percent.
These events are chronicled in Homer's legendary epic, "That time I accidentally launched a thousand ships with my face during my sojourn in Troy".
The Battle of Thermopylae
In the fifth century BCE, Sparta was invaded by Xerxes I of Persia, which pleased them to no end, as it gave them a supply of people to stab.
The reigning monarch at the time, King Leonidas I, selected three hundred of his nakedest troops and led them to a mountain pass to fight a quarter million Persians. Not surprisingly, the Persians killed them all, and the Spartans made a pact to never, ever speak of the incident again. The End.
More than two millennia later, in the middle of the 20th century CE at the height of the Vietnam War, a village was discovered in which every man, woman, and child had been brutally murdered. American soldiers would later give eyewitness testimony that a band of angry Spartans had leapt out from behind a dumpster and stabbed everyone to death, and then subsequently disguised themselves as Vietnamese peasants and stabbed each other to death. The last Spartan standing then placed American bullets in each peasant's stab wounds before stabbing himself.
Although the eyewitness testimony of American soldiers is considered to be above reproach, a handful of conspiracy theorists have claimed that the peasants might have died from something else.
The keystone of Spartan culture was military discipline. Military discipline began from birth: when a male child was born, his father would attempt to drown him in a barrel of wine. If the child survived and emerged from the wine punching his father in the genitals, he would be labeled an "official badass", and shipped off to a military barracks known as an Agoge. If the child barely survived, he would be hurled off a cliff near Mount Taygetos. If the child didn't survive, his father would eat him, as he was already marinated in delicious wine and it would be a shame to let that go to waste. Wine is delicious.
Life in the Agoge was harsh. There, the students were deliberately underfed, in order to teach them important social skills like "stabbing a guy so you can steal his olives". Over the next twenty years, Spartan boys were educated in the Spartan arts of stabbing, wrestling, grunting, stabbing, and ballroom dancing.
At age twenty, Spartans were transferred to syssitia, fifteen-man dining mess halls, where they learned to bond and rely on one another. Although the nature of this bonding and reliance was never recorded, as it was a strict state secret, historians believe it involved man-on-man rape.
At age twenty-two, Spartans were sent out onto the field to do some serious stabbing.
The Spartans were known for their Laconic wit, which is a form of embarrassing someone who has spoken too much by giving him a very short response.
For example, King Charilaus of Sparta was once asked why the list of Spartan laws was so short. He replied, simply, "Men of few words require few laws." If anything, this was an understatement, as the Spartan Constitution consisted of one word: "STAB". (In 434 BCE, the Constitution was amended with a second word: "REPEATEDLY".)
Similarly, when Philip II of Macedon invaded Greece, he sent a message to Sparta: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." The Spartans sent back a one-word reply: "If." This response is said to have pwned Philip II so hard that he literally soiled his royal garments. Well, not literally, because it wasn't soil. It was poop.
In one instance, a low-level advisor to King Leonidas is said to have enquired of his King, "My liege, shouldn't we bring more than three hundred troops to this battle? I mean, we're going to be outnumbered like a thousand to one." King Leonidas turned, regarded him, and in an unprecedented display of Laconic wit, replied, "Fuck you."
Children were taught Laconic wit in the Agoge from a very early age. For example, if a boy said "Give me your olive," he would be harshly punished, because this sentence is not as Laconic as simply stabbing the other boy and stealing his olive.
Well, except for Helen. Otherwise, not so much. Sparta was very manly.