Helotage and the spartan economy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Helots were servile agricultural workers who supported Spartan full citizens, called Spartiates or Homoioi ‘peers’, freeing them from working or managing property. This chapter analyzes the value of helotage for the exploiting class. This is helpful to distinguish between perioikoic-land and perioikoi and also between helot-land and helots. The foundation of the Spartan social system lay in the kleroi ‘allotments’, that comprised arable land and the helots to cultivate it. The ultimate origin of the kleroi may well have existed in lands given to Laconian aristocrats in eighth-century raids in the lower Eurotas valley and Messenia. The creation of the kleros-system preceded the emergence of private property, as the individual as an economic actor had not fully separated himself from his lineage, nor had a market in land developed. The other pole of the axis of production in Lakonike comprised the syssitia (‘messes’), which also played a unique role in the Spartan economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to Sparta
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781119072379
ISBN (Print)9781405188692
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Helotage
  • Kleros-system
  • Lakonike
  • Messenia
  • Spartan economy
  • Spartiates
  • Syssitia


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