Dear people, I'm very very happy to let you read another excerpt of Escapades in Bizarrchaeology by Adrian Burrows.
7 (Painful) steps to gaining the Physique of a Hoplite
Every morning when I awake, wrapped within the plush duvet laid upon my Hästens Vividus bed, I steel my nerves and ready myself. Why? Because in precisely 26 minutes and 54 seconds my morning workout session will begin. Starting with a 20 mile run (backwards of course, otherwise where is the challenge?), I then move on to do 400 push-ups, 300 sit ups, 500 lunges and 250 Bulgarian split squats (the answer is, yes, they are as painful as they sound).
Yet even my brutal training regime pales in comparison to that of the Spartans, those delightful war loving Ancient Greeks of ye olden days (the official term for anything that happened before right now).
The Spartans made sure that every single citizen of Sparta was a Hoplite solder and to become a Spartan Hoplite and therefore be allowed to be a citizen you had to undergo...
(Before you read that title make sure you add the Sound Effect of DUH DUH DUUUUUUUUUUUH! to ensure the suitable level of drama is achieved).
At the moment there's a lot of workout regimes that profess to the exercise fanatic that they will allow you to achieve Spartan levels of fitness. It is safe to say that a real Spartan would look briefly at these exercises before punching them in the face, pulling their hair and calling them rude names.
If you want to be a REAL Spartan Hoplite, then all you have to do is follow this simple seven step program;
(Please note that the author, Max Virtus, accepts no responsibility for any accidental fatal injury that should occur if someone were to actually try the seven step programme).
So when should your Spartan training begin? Well, if you are reading this then chances are you are already too old to begin your Spartan training (unless of course you are a terrifyingly advanced new born baby that has developed the ability to read) because your Agōgē would commence as soon as you were born. An Elder would come and inspect a baby to check if it was fit and healthy enough to live. If not? The child would be left in the wilderness near Mount Taygetus to die from the elements (or if the child did survive the next few days it might be brought back to Sparta to continue its training).
You passed the first step? Then it's on to step two. At the age of 7 you would be taken away from your family and your REAL training would begin and would last for the next 22 years. Only once you reached the age of thirty would your Agōgē be complete and you would be allowed to do boring normal things like marry someone or have children.
In the early days of your training you would have to steal to eat. On the plus side you would only be punished if you were caught. On the negative side that punishment involved being beaten by a big stick. A lot.
How to recreate this in the modern day? Only eat one apple a day. And nothing else.
The Spartans liked to ensure that they looked suitably ripped, so not eating certainly helped reduce their body fat (it also meant that their armies needed remarkably little food in the field, after all, an army marches on its stomach ... and its feet too but that's beside the point). I couldn't imagine eating this little, after all I can't leave hunger locked up till lunch without a bowl of my Captain Virtus Crunch (available in all good supermarkets).
You would only be given one item of clothing a year to wear (items of clothing like a red cloak called a Phoinikis, not a comedy pair of glasses or a wimple). If you lost this item or it was torn, too bad. No Lycra shorts, training vests and expensive trainers for a real Spartan.
With Step 5 things started to get a bit more serious (steps 1 - 4 should have been pretty easy) as you would be enrolled as part of the Spartan Secret Police and then sent off to kill some slaves who were looking shifty and rebellious. After all, those pesky Helots have to be kept in line, who else will peel you a grape when you become a citizen? You could kill any slaves who were out at night who you witnessed speaking seditiously with each other, which in the modern day would mean you would have to try and kill EVERYONE (please note don't actually try this at home).
Make sure you keep an eye on your waistline during your training, put on a few pounds and you risk being publicly ridiculed and humiliated by your chums. Continue to pile on the poundage and you would be exiled from Sparta and also nicknamed the 'Chubinator' (Please note; only one of these two statements are true).
You finished your training! Hurrah! Or at least you had better hope you are able to complete your training. If you haven't then you don't get to be a citizen which leaves you one option, to become a slave.
The next thing to consider is not to embarrass yourself in battle, this involves not running away screaming like a petrified squirrel when you face a Persian advance as well as making sure you arrive in time for the fight. According to ancient historian with a beard, Herodotus, two Spartans who arrived late (I think the reason they gave was something about being stuck behind a slow moving horse) and missed the famous battle of Thermopylae were so ashamed and humiliated that one of them killed himself, the other ultimately gained forgiveness by dying gloriously in a later battle.
In battle as a Spartan your options were pretty limited, win or die. Running away to fight another day wasn't a choice. That's why a mother would say to her son before a battle “Return with your shield or on it” (which is a bit different to ''don't forget to buy some milk, clean behind your neck and tie up your shoelaces'').
So forget Men's Health magazine, forget celebrity endorsed fitness DVDs, all you need to do is follow the Simple Seven Step program to be a Spartan Hoplite and one day you too could look like a pumped up baby oiled buffed up delight for the eyeballs (just don’t refer to yourself in that way), marching forward in slow motion looking mean and moody which is an impressive feat whilst wearing only a pair of pants and a crimson cape like a real Spartan should (although, that would be ridiculous, you may be a Spartan but you are definitely still going to wear some armour. And as for a cape? Never wear a cape in battle it's only going to get snagged on something and trip you up in an embarrassing fashion*).
If you want to know more about the book please head over HERE.