This is Sparta | Teen Ink

This is Sparta

October 14, 2018
By TheUniqueMuffin BRONZE, Singapore, Other
TheUniqueMuffin BRONZE, Singapore, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The morning sun was rising into the sky, parting the clouds and shining over the city of Sparta. Myriah’s sleep eyelids twitched as the sunlight poured in through her window but before she could even open her eyes Mamma burst through the doorway.

“Wake up, wake up, you’re so lazy, wake up!” Mamma yelled at Myriah as she whacked her continuously with a kitchen cloth. Myriah sat up covering her head from Mamma’s whacks grunting at her to stop it. Yawning, Myriah trudged over towards her wash basin as Mamma dashed out of the room muttering incoherent words of frustration. Myriah was a spartan and all spartan woke up with the sunrise to start their day.

Myriah was ten years old, skinny and bony with short black hair and round brown eyes. Mamma was constantly complaining that Myriah had no muscle and how lazy she was but this wasn’t new to Myriah. All the women and girls said this about her. Spartan women were meant to be powerful, intimidating, strong and fit but Myriah was, and had always been different however, it wasn’t just Myriah’s physical features that set her apart. Myriah also thought and felt differently than others, she just didn’t seem to fit in with the Spartan environment. Spartans took pride in their strength and power, violence was their solution and everyone was meant to look and feel this way. Unfortunately, Myriah was kind, peaceful, caring and, in the eyes of a spartan…weak.

        She wanted to be like Mamma, a leader, dominant and strong, but violence terrified her. Myriah hated fighting and she got easily tired in training. Sparta was intense and nobody believed that Myriah could be a part of it. Well, she was going to prove them wrong.

        Myriah looked into the mirror above her basin and clenched her fists. She could be spartan, she could be violent, she could be powerful.


Myriah jumped and splashed water all over her nightgown

“What are you doing” Mamma called up from the kitchen. “If you don’t hurry, you won’t get any breakfast before training!”

        Mamma was a tough woman. She had high standards and morals and could be downright scary, especially now that Belen had gone to Agoge. Belen, Myriah’s older brother had turned 12 years of age, and for Spartans, a man. So, Belen was sent to “Agoge,” a spartan training camp to turn boys into men, where he was expected to survive harsh climates, fighting wild animals and fighting other boys to the death.

        Myriah missed Belen dearly. He was kind to her and tried to help her become stronger and yet he was the strongest boy of his age group. Mamma was proud of him, always bragging about him to other women and cheering him on as he fought in the street. With Belen at home, Mamma didn’t seem to notice Myriah’s flaws, or maybe she just didn’t care. Who cared about one small mistake of a child when you have produced the strongest child. But now with Belen gone, who was going to hide Myriah?

        Now the neighbors could clearly see Myriah, the disappointment and weakness that Mamma had also produced and this made Mamma tight, snappy and angry.

“Hurry up Myriah! Why do you have to be so slow?!” Mamma called angry over her shoulder.

“Sorry Mamma, I was just thinking about stuff.” Myriah panted as she ran up to Mamma

“Thinking? Pah! Stop thinking and do for once, maybe then you won’t fail.” Mamma sniffed

“This is how Sparta works and that’s why your Pappa and Belen always succeed.”

Myriah looked down at her toes, wondering why she couldn’t be like Mamma, toughest women in Sparta, Belen, Strongest child or Pappa, fighting against Leonidas, leader of Sparta, against Persia? “Stop thinking and do for once…” Myriah remembered Mamma saying and gritting her teeth, Myriah looked up and forward with determination.

The women of sparta trained hard on throwing, fighting competing and much more and Myriah trained as hard as she could alongside them. Myriah usually sat out of the fighting which angered Mamma deeply but kept Myriah from harm however, today was different. When fighting training started, Jocasta, the leader of the women's training started to pair the girls who had come with their mothers together.

“Who wants to fight against Theia today?” Jocasta asked, proudly presenting the top girl to the others but before anyone could respond Myriah thrust her hand into the air.

“I DO.” Myriah said in a loud, clear confident voice.

All the women looked at Myriah, an awkward silence lingered in the air.

“HA, Did you hear that? She wants to fight me!”

Theia had turned to the other girls and started to snigger, pointing at Myriah.

“I don’t even think she can fight!”

“Who ever heard of a weak spartan?”

“Anyone who’s seen Myriah I suppose!”

The girls started to laugh at Myriah and then the women started to join in the laughing as well. The women were encouraging fighting both physically and mentally. Myriah looked at Mamma and with a jolt of humiliation, Myriah saw the look of shame on Mamma's face. In a spasm of panic and determination to prove to Mamma she wasn’t a mistake Myriah looked around are lunged at Theia. In a cry of pain from Theia, the two girls hit the floor and Myriah started to punch and beat Theia to the floor. Myriah’s knuckles started to get bloody as cuts started to appear of Theia’s face. The women were cheering her on, the girls screaming in excitement and Myriah paused to look up at Mamma. Happiness filled Myriah up as she saw the look of excitement and proudness displayed on Mamma’s face. Mamma smiled encouraged at Myriah and Myriah smiled back.

Myriah looked down at Theia prepared to fight more but was filled with horror as she saw the blood, cuts, bruises, and tears on Theia’s face. Theia held a hand to her cheek and tears gushed out of her eyes. Myriah in dismay of her actions reached down to Theia trying to help her up muttering words of apology. Theia looked up at Myriah and opened her mouth.

“You let your guard down so easily.”

Theia punched Myriah in the stomach with more force than any of the blows Myriah had hit. Theia punch, kicked and hit Myriah over and over again without any mercy towards to tears of pain in Myriah’s eyes and she didn’t stop fighting until Jocasta finally had to pull them apart, or rather Theia off of Myriah, to end the morning training.

As Mamma and Myriah walked home, Myriah dabbed at the blood on her face with a spare bit of cloth Mamma had given her. Thanks to being caring, myriah now had a sprained wrist, a split lip, a black eye, two missing teeth and a lot of cuts and bruises all over her body. She looked up at Mamma who was walking silently next to her and tears welled in her eyes as she saw the look of disappointment on Mamma’s face. Myriah looked back down at her feet fighting as hard as she could to keep the tears from coming. Spartans didn’t cry so she shouldn’t either but Mamma’s face loomed in Myriahs mind and she couldn’t contain her tears.

As she and Mamma walked back home through the fields, Myriah silently cried. Why did Sparta have to be so expecting? Why were Spartans so violent? How could she, a weak girl ever be a Spartan? Myriah looked up to the sky blinking back the tears in her eyes and biting her trembling lip, then finally gaining control over herself looked ahead. She could see her house, her window and she just wanted to go to her room and never come out but she saw something, someone standing in front of the door.

There was a messenger in front of their house. She could tell that he was a messenger because of his clothing, long and baggy like one big shawl. But why was he here? Myriah had a bad feeling, what had happened, what was going on? Mamma noticed the messenger too and started to hurry in order to get to him. The messanger saw Mamma coming and looked up.

“Good morning ma'am, I’ve come to deliver something but I suspected you were training.”

“Good morning to you as well. Yes, I was training, sorry to keep you waiting, where have you come from to deliver this message?”

Myriah glared suspiciously at the messenger. He had an ominous look on his face, a melancholy look of something that Myriah thought must be pity. But why was he pitying them?

“I’ve come from Agoge, ma’am to deliver this telegram.”

Myriah’s heart skipped a beat and Mamma gasped. This wasn’t good, telegrams were the letters of doom, sent to people when there is a problem.
“I’ve very sorry ma’am.” The messenger said with a solemn look as he walked back down the road.

Mamma’s hand holding the telegram was trembling though she was obviously trying to keep it from doing so. Mamma and Myriah walked into their house in silence and sat at the dinner table. Myriah couldn’t take her eyes off of the telegram in Mamma’s hands and Mamma’s expression had gone blank, completely blank. Myriah had never seen Mamma show this expression before but was to focused on the telegram to even notice it. Mamma unfolded the parchment and began to read.

“Mrs. Anastas, we are writing from Agoge to inform you of the death of your son, Belen Anastas in the lion pit fights training. Belen fought against a lion and didn’t succeed and lost against the lion he was fighting. We are sorry for your loss. - Agoge”

Mamma’s expression was completely blank and Myriah hadn’t seemed to take in a word of it. Belen? Dead? No way, right? Myriah looked at Mamma to confirm. This was all a joke right? He couldn’t be dead. Mamma looked up at Myriah and said in a weak and trembling voice,

“Belen was weak, if he lost against a lion he would not be fit to be a fighter in the Spartan army.”

Myriah looked up.

“Wh-what?” She stammered in a breaking, high pitched voice.

“It was said Leonidas beat five lions when he was a boy, and you father had no trouble with the lions he fought. Belen was weak, he wasn’t a true Spartan.”

Myriah finally understood, understood everything.

“Ye-yes.” She stammered, to horrified to even cry, “Belen should have been stronger, he brings shame to us.”

“Yes. Shame.” Mamma whispered so softly Myriah could barely hear her.

Myriah stood up, using the table to support her shaking legs as she walked outside and Mamma didn’t even seem to notice.

The moment Myriah was out of Mamma’s range of sight and sound Myriah burst into tears and started to run. There was only one good physical activity Myriah could do and that was to run and as she ran she thought about her understandings. She understood Sparta now. Seeing Mamma’s reaction to the telegram and given it all away, given away what it was actually like in Sparta. Spartans were known for being strong. Their culture was strength. Their focus was strength. Spartans needed to show others, set an example of courage and bravery and more. Yes, spartans were violent, but this prepared people for real life. For people who survived Spartan training, they were strong, powerful and this was the reason for the Spartan army being so strong. Maybe the circulation about strength for Sparta was a bit much but to the people, this was necessary. The spartan picture was something that left people in awe. What did you want to be like? A Spartan.

This culture could be seen as cruel but life would never be perfect. This way Spartans would always be prepared whereas others wouldn’t. Mamma was a true spartan. She obviously was startled and hurt by that telegram but she needed to stay strong in front of her daughter. By reacting at the death of her only son in the way she did, she had managed to explain everything about Sparta to Myriah. She had prepared Myriah for how to take the death of people Myriah would love no matter how hard it would be. “This is Sparta” thought Myriah, “And to be the top we have to do things we do like as much.”

Myriah had slowed down. She stopped running and leaned against a tall brick wall at the end of the lane to catch her breath. She sighed then went very quiet. Around the corner of the wall she was leaning against there was some sort of quiet but sharp conversation going on. Myriah peeked around the corner and saw Adrian, leader of one of two Spartan power houses, his wife and two other powerful looking women. In the middle of these Spartans was a messenger who looked like he had seen a ghost. Myriah strained to hear what they were talking about without getting seen.

“No, no, no this can’t be!” one of the women exclaimed.

“Sparta could never lose!” the other unknown women said loudly.

“Keep your voice down!” Adrian hissed at her. “Now messenger, explain what you mean!”

“Ephialtes led the Persian army down a secret path around the Greek line.” the messenger cried out.

“Ephialtes? Isn’t he a Greek citizen?” Adrian’s wife asked.

“Yes, and he betrayed Greece for the money and riches Persia offered him!” The messenger whined.

“So what does this mean?” One of the women asked in a frightened voice.

“Persia is coming.”

Myriah’s legs gave way and she fell against the hard brick floor, knocking her head and passing out into a fading darkness.

The author's comments:

I am currently in the 8th grade and during my English unit we were writing short stories on historical fiction.

I wrote a bit over what I was supposed to but my teacher thought it was really good and recommended me to turn it in on this site.

This story is about a young Spartan girl trying to fit into the tough environment of Sparta while having to deal with other problems as well.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.