Antiquity’s Fierce Child Warriors Who Died For Their Tribes

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Spartan women upon handing their sons their shields, instructed them to come home

Antiquity’s Fierce Child Warriors Who Died For Their Tribes

Standing at the spearhead of many of history's greatest battles were battalions of grotesque weapon wielding, combat-trained children, as ready and willing as their parents to die for their city-states, families and tribes. Modern media generally show painful images of child soldiers in Africa, Asia or South-America adorning camo-clothing, wielding automatic machine guns bigger than themselves. Child soldiers is not a new concept, and most of history's greatest armies ‘got them in young.’ Thus, ancient records brim with references to rigorous training camps and regimens undergone by the children, who were never allowed to be as such.

Three Spartan boys practicing archery by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg  (1812) Hirschsprung Collection (Public Domain)

Child Spartans: Sixth – Fourth Century BC

Sparta was a warrior city-state of ancient Greece that had developed into a serious military land-based power by 650 BC. Spartan warriors, the ‘Lacedaemonians’ underwent training known as 'agoge’ which can be compared to the most elite level of modern special forces training. Their valor is showcased in the 2006-Hollywood blockbuster, 300, based on the ‘Battle of Thermopylae’, where that number of Spartan warriors allegedly staved off a vastly superior force of invading Persians, for three days of intense fighting, before all 300 men were killed.

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