Sparta Society to the Battle of Leuctra, 371 BC

- Syllabus Content - Map - Past Questions -

Roles and privileges of the two kings

See text: p.43 The two kings

Past HSC question - 2009:
(d) With reference to Source 14 and other sources, explain the role of the kings in Spartan society.
(Source 14: Statue identified as Leonidas)

Past HSC question - 2006:
(d) Outline the main roles of the Spartan kings. (6 marks)

Examiners' comment:
(d) Most candidates handled this question quite well. Better responses outlined the range of roles: military, religious, judicial and political. Once again many candidates wrote at great length. This is not necessary in this question to gain full marks. Some added great detail on the privileges of the kings, often adding historical examples not needed in a 6-mark question.

  • Use the text from Herodotus (Book 6) to augment your list from the textbook.

  • Priests of Zeus.
  • Right to make war against anyone without hindrance
  • To go first to war and return last
  • have a guard of 100 men on their expeditions
  • sacrifice as many cattle as they like before war, and keep the hides and backs
  • at a sacrifice, the privilege to eat first at the feast; receive double portions
  • right to pour the first libation and to keep the hide of any animal sacrificed
  • receive a sacrificial animal at new moon and 7th of month
  • special seat at games
  • right to select the husband for an unbetrothed maiden whose father dies
  • adoptions to be held in the presence of the kings
  • sit in the gerousia; if not present, the closest relative shall have their votes
  • death is announced throughout the whole land by horsemen; women strike a copper kettle; a free man and woman from each household must go into morning