The Perioikoi: a Social, Economic and Military Study of the Other Lacedaemonians

Villafane Silva, C
(2015) The Perioikoi: a Social, Economic and Military Study of the Other Lacedaemonians. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Following recent advances in the study of the perioikoi of Laconia, especially those focusing on their political status and their respective poleis, I offer the first full-length study of the perioikoi, in order to highlight their relevance and positive contribution to the Lacedaemonian state. This work acts both as a stand-alone piece and a supplement to existing seminal studies in the fields of Spartan and helot studies. It looks at Sparta and Laconia from a perioikic point of view, with a focus on the role of the perioikoi as a people and as fellow Lacedaemonians. Limited to the classical period, this study examines and analyses all the appearances of Lacedaemonian perioikoi in textual sources and in material culture with the aim of shedding more light on what has always been an obscure group. This study begins with the difficulties posed by both ancient sources and modern scholarship. Since textual evidence for the perioikoi is scarce, there have been few studies devoted to them, whereas studies of Spartans and the helots have become ever more common over recent decades. However, when we begin to explore who the perioikoi were, in the general sense of the word, and what it meant to be a Lacedaemonian then we can appreciate that these perioikoi were a complex group because of their status as Lacedaemonians, something which differentiated them from other perioikoi in the Greek world. As Lacedaemonians, they interacted with the many groups that inhabited Laconia, especially the helots, and shared the same objectives as the Spartans when it came to controlling and keeping watch over the helots. Furthermore, they enjoyed a professional and cordial relationship with the Spartans. Most importantly, however, we find that, as fellow-Lacedaemonians, they enjoyed exceptional freedom when operating in the Lacedaemonian army. As individuals they could hold high-ranking positions, command soldiers, and even be trusted with missions that could change the course of action in war; and as collective groups they could fight in strictly elite units. The Spartans knew they could rely on the skills of the perioikoi as soldiers. The fact that Lacedaemonian perioikoi rebelled extremely rarely is testament to their loyalty not just to Sparta but to Laconia as well. This study shows that the perioikoi of Laconia were not a psychologically, economically or socially subdued group. They enjoyed all the freedoms and advantages of being Lacedaemonians in their own right and by working alongside one of the most powerful city-states of classical Greece, Sparta. It also shows that Laconia was more than just Sparta and the cities that surrounded it. The common link between Sparta and the perioikoi was their shared identity as Lacedaemonians. The Peloponnesian War, as we know it today, was fought between Sparta and Athens, but in antiquity it was viewed as Athens against the Lacedaemonians. That is why there existed a Lacedaemonian army, Lacedaemonian religion, and a Lacedaemonian culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Classics, Ancient History, Ancient Greek History, Ancient Greek Historiography, Ancient Warfare, Ancient Slavery, Ancient Greek Slavery, Ancient Greek Warfare, Ancient Sparta, Sparta and the Peloponnese, History of the Peloponnese, perioikoi, perioeci, Helots, Spartan Army, Laconia, Messenia, Laconian Pottery, Classical Archaeology, Greek Archaeology, Topography of the Peloponnese
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2016 10:27
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2022 07:10
DOI: 10.17638/03001055
  • Tuplin, CJ
  • Hobden, F