Test Prep: Greek Civilization and the Origins of Sparta

Your test will cover the period c.900 to 555 BCE – that is, the period in which the Greeks emerged from the Dark Ages and constructed their unique civilization. Please read Reading #12 – which will help you begin to review.

Major Themes and Questions

  • Why are the Greeks considered a separate civilization? What did they all share?
  • How did the specific topography and climate of Greece shape the development of Greek civilization?
  • WHY do we care about the Greeks? What unique outlook did they offer the world? (This was addresses in part in the Donald Kagan lecture.)
  • SOURCE TEXTS: How are documents shaped by an author’s intent? What did Plutarch, Xenephon, and Tyrtaeus attempt with their writing? (i.e. what was the purpose of writing what they did?) What was the historical context of each document, and how does knowing context matter for correctly interpreting the document?
  • How might we date the reforms of Lycurgus?
  • In what way was Sparta unique? Why did the Spartan system appear so different from the other city-states  by 555 BCE ? (That is, what unique historical situation shaped Sparta’s political, social, and cultural system?)
  • What caused Sparta to make such dramatic reforms to its system? What were those reforms? Can you make the connection between the reform initiated and the context of the times? (For example, what prompted Sparta to ban all gold and silver?)


  • Lycurgus
  • Plutarch
  • Gyges
  • Apollo
  • The Pythia
  • Tyrtaeus


  • Writings of Homer
  • First Olympics
  • 1st and 2nd Messenian Wars
  • Battle of Hysiae
  • Tyrtaeus writes Lyric War Poetry
  • Formation of the Peloponnesian League
  • Xenephon writes about Sparta (following the Peloponnesian War)
  • Plutarch Writes ‘Parallel Lives’


You should be able to define most of the following terms AND understand how they relate to the Spartan system or the formation of Greek Civilization.

  • hoplon; hoplite; lambda; trireme; xyphos; panoply; pythia, Olympics
  • agoge; gymnapaedia; syssitia; apothetai
  • agon; eunomia; dike; arete; phobos
  • polis; acropolis; metropolis; oligarchy; aristocracy; democracy; monarchy; tyranos, hegemon (‘ba’)
  • Gerousia, Apella; Ephors; rhetra
  • Spartiate; periokoi; helots; krypteia, harmost, kothon, Dorians
  • Lacedaemonia; Messenia; Ionia; Argos; Delphi; Lydia; Aegina; Eurotas River; Taygetus Mountains, dioklos;

One response to “Test Prep: Greek Civilization and the Origins of Sparta

  1. Dr. Shurmer, what is this weekend’s homework?


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