If you were born a male in Sparta about 2500 years ago, you had no real chance to choose a profession. One profession chose all boys. That profession was the life of a soldier. Unlike Athens, which encouraged the “finer” aspects of life, such as arts and philosophy, the ethos of Sparta revolved around the warrior culture (in other words, the over-the-top machismo that runs through the movie 300 may not be an exaggeration after all). Spartan males started the journey to warriorhood as early as seven years of age, when they had to enrol into the Agoge.
If you were a male and were medically all right, you entered the Agoge, no questions asked. The Agoge was a state-funded education system, which stressed on obedience, endurance, bravery, and self-discipline. Spartan men dedicated their entire lives to the army and a boy was taught very early on that loyalty to the state came before everything else, including family. In the Agoge, boys lived communally under severe conditions. They had to partake in physical competitions (which involved violence at times), were handed out insufficient rations and expected to master a host of survival skills, including stealing food. Boys who excelled in the Agoge were often chosen to participate in the Crypteia, which served as a police force whose main objective was to intimidate the general Helot* population and punish troublemakers.
Spartan males became full-fledged soldiers by 20 and remained active for 40 years. Their army did not rely on one hero to inspire the masses; everyone was considered equal. Their military discipline and focus ensured that they became masters at teamwork, such as the ancient Greek phalanx formation. Decked in a bronze helmet, breastplate and ankle guards, and carrying a spear and sword and a shield of bronze or wood, the Spartan solider was one heck of a proposition.*class in ancient Sparta somewhere between slaves and citizens, which formed the main population of the Sparta-controlled territories, Laconia and Messenia.