The Gymnasium of Virtue: Education and Culture in Ancient Sparta / Edition 2

The Gymnasium of Virtue: Education and Culture in Ancient Sparta / Edition 2

by Nigel M. Kennell
Pub. Date:
The University of North Carolina Press


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The Gymnasium of Virtue: Education and Culture in Ancient Sparta / Edition 2

The Gymnasium of Virtue is the first book devoted exclusively to the study of education in ancient Sparta, covering the period from the sixth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D. Nigel Kennell refutes the popular notion that classical Spartan education was a conservative amalgam of "primitive" customs not found elsewhere in Greece. He argues instead that later political and cultural movements made the system appear to be more distinctive than it actually had been, as a means of asserting Sparta's claim to be a unique society.

Using epigraphical, literary, and archaeological evidence, Kennell describes the development of all aspects of Spartan education, including the age-grade system and physical contests that were integral to the system. He shows that Spartan education reached its apogee in the early Roman Empire, when Spartans sought to distinguish themselves from other Greeks. He attributes many of the changes instituted later in the period to one person—the philosopher Sphaerus the Borysthenite, who was an adviser to the revolutionary king Cleomenes III in the third century B.C.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807858745
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 05/01/2007
Series: Studies in the History of Greece and Rome Series
Edition description: 2
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 982,529
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)

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A book of major importance which should transform our understanding of the long-term development of Spartan society—Journal of Hellenic Studies

By his meticulous attention to the ancient sources and recognition of the power of invented tradition to reshape seemingly ancient institutions, Kennell has transformed our understanding of how Sparta's much-debated system of state training evolved through antiquity.—Antony J. S. Spawforth, University of Newcastle

An excellent book, a model not least for its close attention to the sources and insistence on justifiable historical methodology.—New England Classical Journal

Kennell superbly untangles an intractable group of problems in Spartan social life. He uses simple, effective literary and linguistic techniques and careful attention to the smallest details to achieve results of permanent significance. . . . Of great significance for collections in ancient history, history of education, and classics.—Choice

Required reading for anyone interested in the study of Greek history and society and in the history of education.—History of Education Quarterly

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