Krypteia


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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Krypteia

 

in Sparta, ancient Greece, punitive raids conducted periodically by the government against the Helots; the raids were primarily carried out by Spartan youth. Their purpose was to annihilate the most active Helots, thereby keeping the remaining Helots in constant terror. The raids were particularly important in the military education and training of the Spartans. Detachments of young Spartans who served in the capacity of police for a period of two years were also called the krypteia.

REFERENCES

Berger, A. K. Sotsial’nye dvizheniia v drevnei Sparte. Moscow, 1936.
Leanmaire, H. “La cryptic Lacedemonienne.” Revue des etudes greques, 1913, vol. 26, no. 117, pp. 121–50.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Individual contributions are focused on the Spartan Krypteia, violence against slaves in classical Greece, war as theater, and a wide variety of other related subjects.
Persia had the "eyes and ears of the King" (Gli occhi e le orecchie del re), Spartans employed a secret police known as "Krypteia," while the Roman Empire under Nero had the Praetorian Guards.
Hade's Gambit, Book 1 of the Krypteia Conspiracy, is the epic beginning of the last days, standing tall in the company of such apocalyptic classics as The Stand, by Stephen King, and Swan Song, by Robert McCammon.
The authorities annually enrolled a select band of youths in a sinister secret organisation called the krypteia. Its function was to keep in check the helots, the subjugated population of Messenia which lay to the west of Sparta.
In other words, did Spartan citizens behave less violently towards one another because the stale provided outlets, both through the krypteia and through its militarism, for violent impulses?
The helots, as state slaves, were regarded as potential enemies, and young Spartans might be recruited each year into the krypteia, or secret police, whose task it was to murder helots who seemed to be getting above themselves.
None the less, a night attack is not as improbable as modern historians claim.(38) Many of Leonidas' picked 300 Spartiates may have gone through the krypteia, a rite of passage whereby select young men were sent out into the countryside, armed with only a dagger, hid by day, and by night killed as many helots as they could find.(39) If so, a night-time offensive in a hopeless struggle may not have seemed such a rash gamble.
28.5), the one before that (Dilts, 10) a mish-mash of references to Lykourgos' having been responsible for bringing the Homeric poems to Sparta, reforming the constitution and creating the krypteia (cf.