Many people forget or undermine the importance of the perioeci and the serfs in their survey of Sparta. disregarding both groups as lone slaves or inferiors that subsequently overthrew the Spartiates. In truth. the perioeci and the serfs both played an of import function in the economic and military facets of Spartan society. and contributed much to Sparta’s celebrity and military art.
For the Spartan citizens. the other facets of their life were left to the perioeci and the serfs. Plutarch describes the perioeci as the “dwellers round about” . a significant group of assorted beginning who achieved their position in a figure of ways. and that their “commercial and economic function must hold become really important” .
Charles McArver. in his Encyclopedia of World Slavery. tells us that the perioeci became merchandisers. makers and shopkeepers. and made all of Sparta’s economic contacts with the outside universe.
Many of them owned land and engaged in farming. while others toiled as craftsmans. worked in the mines of the Taygetus Mountains. or manufactured dyes for woolens. furniture and chariots. They besides worked metal – skilled in stamping and crafting brass. and they made the weaponries for the Spartan warriors.
The fact that the Spartan province used Fe bars as a signifier of currency. as Plutarch tells us. leaves the perioeci to utilize gold and Ag to merchandise. Thus. the perioeci besides held at least some wealth. There is besides grounds that they served as light foot in the ground forcess – Thucydides tells us of 5000 Spartiates and 5000 perioeci hoplites that fought at Plataea in 479 BE.
Agribusiness in Sparta was the chief field of the serfs. Plutarch describes them as the local dwellers of Laconia and Messenia. owned by the Spartan State. Their chief duty was to manus over to their Spartan masters a part of the crops – known as the apophora – and were allowed to maintain any extra. Harmonizing to the poet Tyrtaeus. this was one half of the green goods. though Xenophon says this sum is relaxed.
The serfs were called on to function as lightly-armed military personnels in clip of war. and were given a opportunity to exhibit courage and trueness to the province. Those who continuously distinguished themselves might be awarded with their freedom. though this is rare. There is an illustration of the helots’ engagement in warfare in W. G. Forrest’s A History of Sparta. where a force of 700 serfs were armed as hoplites and sent to help the Chalcidians during the Peloponnesian War.
From this. we can see that both the perioeci and serfs played an of import function in the economic system and military life of Sparta. Without the perioeci and the serfs. the Spartans would non hold been able to concentrate entirely on honing their combat accomplishments. and Spartan society would surely non hold flourished as it did.