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Sparta, or Lacedaemon, city of ancient Greece, capital of Laconia in the Peloponnesus, on the Eurotas River. A center for culture and wealth, its society was divided into 3 classes: the helots (serfs bound to the land); the free perioeci (freemen allowed to take part in commerce and crafts); and the Spartiates, citizens with legal and civil rights, whose rigorous military training led to the word Spartan. There were 2 hereditary kings, though real power resided with the 5 annually elected ephors (magistrates). Founded in the 13th century B.C., Sparta dominated the Peloponnesus by 550 B.C. Despite alliance with Athens in the Persian Wars, Sparta fought and won the Peloponnesian War against Athens (431–404 B.C.), but a series of revolts and defeats destroyed Spartan power, and in 146 B.C. the city became subject to Roman rule. It prospered under the Romans but was destroyed by the Goths in A.D. 395.

See also: Greece, Ancient.

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