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Sparta was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. Given its military pre-eminence, Sparta was recognized as the overall leader of the combined Greek forces during the Greco-Persian Wars. Sparta was unique for its social system and constitution, which focused on military training and excellence. Its inhabitants were classified as Spartiates (Spartan citizens, who enjoyed full rights), Mothakes (non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans), Perioikoi (freedmen), and Helots (state-owned serfs, enslaved non-Spartan local population). Spartiates underwent the rigorous agoge training and education regimen, and Spartan phalanges were widely considered to be among the best in battle. Spartan women enjoyed more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical world. Sparta was the subject of fascination in its day, as well as in the West following the revival of classical learning.

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