chapter  6
31 Pages

Spartan Religion

ByRobert Parker

Does an essay on ‘Spartan religion’ deserve a place in a volume devoted to the ‘success of S parta’? O ne needs first to show that there was som ething distinctive about Spartan religious beliefs and practices. O f course, the cults of any one Greek state differed in countless particulars from those of any other, but superficial divergences may cover sim ilarity at a deeper level. How significant is it tha t when a Spartan spoke of ‘the two gods’ he m eant C astor and Pollux, whereas an A thenian was referring to D em eter and Persephone? The Dioscuri lived close to Sparta at T herapne, while D em eter’s chief contact with life on earth had been a few miles from Athens at Eleusis: so both the A thenian and the Spartan were appealing to the same implicit concept of privileged local access to Olym pus.