300 is a fun book and movie. There’s a lot of spectacle.
|"Beware my shiny muscles!"|
|Nice, um, incense.|
|"Yes, we have a permit for our, um, wall."|
|"This one has funny hair!"|
|I think you have to be British to get this joke.|
Actually, Sparta had two. Neither could act without the consent of the other. This system (called a “diarchy”) was designed to curb abuse of power.
|In 300, the Ephors have sex with young women they aren't related to. So, they're inbred?|
The Ephors were five men elected (for a maximum of one term in office). They were supposed to be another check on the power of the kings.
At the age of twelve, young Spartan boys were a assigned an older man to have sex with. Spartans considered pederasty a way of creating closely knit fighting units.
|"Ah, you look a bit like a Helot. What the hell."|
300 gets this half right. Spartan kids were allowed to go out without clothes or food to hunt as a rite of passage. However, they didn’t hunt animals. They hunted and stole from the Helots, the Spartan slave class. The more slaves they murdered, the better.
|Oh, wait, wrong movie.|
The Spartans couldn’t have given two craps about freedom. Three quarters of their population were slaves. Lycurgus created their militaristic, nutball society to keep the Helot slaves in line. Every year, the Spartan government would declare war on the Helots, so any Spartan citizen could murder them with impunity.
So, next time you see the movie 300, feel free to laugh and cheer. Then, do what I do: throw something heavy at the screen and scream.