Talk:Helots

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opening section[edit]

the phrase in the opening section "Helots were not confined to Sparta" is confusing and ambiguous. Its intended meaning is probably that the practice of keeping Helots existed elsewhere, but it makes sound as though the Helots were a free people. The section makes sense with the deletion of the ambiguous phrase, so that's what I've done. --Daviticus82 3/16/2007

name[edit]

Shouldn't this article be renamed Helots? The plural in this sort of articles appears to be much more common.--Aldux 10:26, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

It's only helot because that was the Status quo - I agree Helots would be better - if there are no counter-argumetns in a few days, will make it so.Bridesmill 13:47, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

verb agreement[edit]

There are many cases in the main body of the article where the past/present tense does not agree (or switches back and forth). If I get around to it, i'll fix it myself, but i've got a lot of work. just thought I'd bring it to someone's attention. --Storkk 16:25, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Security[edit]

You uncritically quote Thucydides' exaggerated statement that all Spartan policy was directed by fear of the Helots. Firstly, the translation is contentious. Secondly, though it is a possibility that Sparta was organised in part to keep the Helots in subjection, ask yourself how feared they could have been if the Spartans allowed them to fight alongside them at need. Thirdly, and this is a general point for all writing on Sparta, you need to understand the difficulty of gleaning any information about a state which did not build, did not write, and whose chroniclers mostly came from its great enemy, Athens. Thucydides himself was a general in the Pelopponesian War. With the Helots the problem is compounded,as you have a people who left no evidence behind within a state which left very little. Rockgenie19

the Context section[edit]

While I do believe the information regarding the rations afforded to helots (I was surprised they received even half-rations) is relevant to the article, doesn't this section seem to be arguing on behalf of Spartan mistreatment of helots. I have been unable to read the sole source cited in this section, but it seems much of this section is made up of original research/opinion, tempered with a particular fact afforded by the source. If you want to think context, consider receiving 81% of necessary daily nutrition coupled with rigorous slave-labor - it's hardly healthy treatment (that's my personal opinion). 1337wesm 01:09, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Actually, this is not personal research. I agree the article is insufficiently sourced, but it was written when footnotes did not really exist on Wikipedia. The passage you are quoting is based on Ducat's book, Helots, p.120.
Thucydides mentions the Spartans besieged in Sphacteria received a ration consisting of two khoinikes of barley flour, two kotylai of wine and an unquantified portion of meat. The Helots get a half-portion.
Now, an Attic khoinix is 686 gr. which, according to Foxhall and Forbes, corresponds to 2320 calories--that is, according to FAO standards nowadays, 70% of the daily needs of a man with high physical activity and 81% of the daily needs of a man with moderate physical activity. Considering the Helots also received wine and meat, Ducat concludes that the total dietary energy intake would not be far from the energy needs of a man with moderate physical activity, which are 2582 calories per day. Now please remember that the people we are talking about are not fighting any more: they're prisoners with hardly anything to do. Ducat concludes that "here is no trace of the intended systematic malnutrition mentioned by Myron", which is of course quite not the same thing as saying the Helots received a healthy treatment. Jastrow (Λέγετε) 10:17, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm not very informed about helots, but as serfs wouldn't they have been forced into manual labor? I wasn't aware that they were 'prisoners with hardly anything to do'. 1337wesm 12:24, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
We're talking here about a specific situation during the Peloponnesian War when a Spartan garrison was cut off and blockaded on the small island of Sphacteria, at the entrance of the bay of Pylos. Sparta concluded a local armistice and sent over the rations we're talking about. Jastrow (Λέγετε) 14:37, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

I deleted the section on context because I found it to be somewhat apologetic for the maltreatment of the helots. I don't think that the fact that helots could theoretically get fat in any way excuses the Spartan habit of putting them to death for becoming so and don't see how it is relevant to the information. Segregold

I strongly protest. This is a historical article, not a place for political correctness. This section is not personal research and was well referenced from one of the reference books on Helots. The whole point is to question the so-called habit of putting Helots to death for becoming fat, a measure mentioned by Myron of Priene who, according to Pausanias, is very unreliable. Ancient sources cannot be taken literally; analyzing them and putting them in context is what historians do. Jastrow (Λέγετε) 06:50, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Now, Segregold, you can't delete text that is supported by sources simply because you find it insufficiently condemning of practices you'd disapprove of in today's world. The text needs to go back into the article, but it does need to be supported by footnotes. Further historically-based text which expresses a different view of the life of helots should also find a place in the article, but it must be footnoted as well. That's what a neutral point of view actually means: "I deleted the section on context because I found it to be somewhat apologetic for the maltreatment of the helots" is no way to proceed with any Wikipedia article. --Wetman 09:20, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I support restoring the context section. But it strikes me that Levy's supposition quoted in the last sentence is unsound. Gesture legislation isn't a recent invention, without evidence of a helot being punished for obesity the most it implies is that fat helots exercised the minds of spartan legislators. I suggest this sentence needs qualification. Twospoonfuls 13:55, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
By all means provide additional context, then, drawing upon other historians. What strikes us individually as unsound in quotes from mainstream published research isn't usually material for a Wikipedia article. Sometimes further quotes are best to broaden and balance the picture. Why not find a succinct quote that expresses the historical view you feel is most lacking? --Wetman 20:56, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Good point. I'll read my references again, including Cartledge this time. Jastrow (Λέγετε) 18:36, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Haplogroup E3b[edit]

Are there any studies that relate the Helots to Haplogroup E3b (Y-DNA)? --Kupirijo 05:50, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

It is not possible to isolate Helot descedents in the population today, so unless it is possible to do chromosomal analysis on 2,500 year old human remains, AND the remains of an unquestionable Helot could be identified, I don't this analysis is even possible. Argos'Dad 13:33, 2 August 2007 (UTC)


A Paragraph that makes no sense to me --[edit]

(I am not knowledgable about this at all so i would be out of place editing this, but somehow this paragraph really niggles me, it gives the impression of a helot population somehow as a concious group deciding to divide naturally like some sort of bacteria. It also gives the impression that chattel populations decided to grow by comerce or war????)

Given that— unlike chattel slave populations— the helot population could not grow by means of purchase or capture in war, it had to rely on natural growth. Helots were encouraged by the Spartans to impose eugenics similar to that which they practiced themselves. Thus, according to the Greek beliefs of the period, not only genetic but also acquired characteristics were passed along to successive generations. During the crypteia, the strongest and fittest helots were the primary targets of the kryptes; to select soft targets would be a sign of weakness.

was acutally me hadnt signed in sorry......JP—The preceding unsigned comment was added by 86.27.237.153 (talk)

I agree[edit]

That paragraph really annoyed me too. Could somebody re-word it? TobiTo Kakshi 19:34, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Some remarks[edit]

Concerning this edit:

According to Thucydides (I, 101, 2), the Helots and the Perioeci of Thouria and Aithaia took advantage of the earthquake to revolt and establish a position on Ithome. He adds that most of the rebels were of Messenian ancestry; confirming the appeal of Ithome as a historical place of Messenian resistance, and focuses attention on the Perioeci of Thouria, a city on the Messianian coast. Conversely, we can deduce that a minority of the Helots were Laconian;

Who is deducing this? Who's we? My sources say that there were two types of Spartan Helots: Laconian and Messinian, each of which resided in the respective regions. It's absurd to assume that there were almost no Laconian Helots because they didn't revolt. They were obviously fewer but that's not how we derive it. The Laconian Helots didn't revolt because they were loyal to the Spartan state, being the ancestors of the Mycenaean pre-Dorian Spartans themselves. In fact there's a huge difference between those two types of Helots (Laconian and Messinian), and it does deserve a mention. Miskin (talk) 22:56, 19 December 2007 (UTC)


Not NPOV?[edit]

Is this page POV? I was reading about helots in Paola Cavalieri's article, here is what she says:

... Sparta's helots are the best-known example. Both the origins and the details of the status of the helots are somewhat obscure and still under discussion, but helots appear to have been the class of producers on the exploitation of whom the highly hierarchical Spartan society was based. The helots were employed mainly in agriculture, and so normally lived apart from the ruling group and were allowed to have a family and some sort of community life. Their situation, however, wasn't much better than that of chattel slaves. (It is enough to note that their subjection was annually reaffirmed through ritual activities that differed from modern sport hunting mainly in the fact that the prey was human.[5])

Because the helots lived together, they were more dangerous to their masters, and many helot rebellions shook Spartan society. In 369 BC, however, during a war between the Spartans and the Thebans, something exceptional happened: after defeating the Spartans at Leuctra, Epaminondas, leader of the Theban forces, manumitted en bloc the helots of Messenia. This act allowed the rebirth of a whole people, with the ready return of its diaspora from all over the Greek Mediterranean; it also had the effect of transforming the ancient social structure on which Sparta had been based. ...

[5] On this institution, called 'krypteia', see the essay by Pierre Vidal-Naquet, 'Le chasseur noir et 1'origine de 1'ephebie athenienne', in P. Vidal-Naquet, Le chasseur noir: Formes de pens.ee et formes de societe dans le mond grec (Librairie Francois Maspero, Paris, 1981).

This gives me a bit different view than this page. NikNovi (talk) 17:13, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

Hi! Can you be more precise concerning the elements that seem NPOV to you? I'm the author of the French article from which this article was translated. Clearly, it still need works, but I tried to write a well-balanced paper. Jastrow (Λέγετε) 17:27, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Putting to death fat Helots[edit]

I reverted LuxNevada's content deletion. The offending passage is not original research; it draws on Ducat's and Lévy's works. Yet it needs precise references, which is why I added {{fact}}. The original French article was written in 2005, when footnotes were not used. I am now in holidays and do not have my books with me. I will add references as soon as I am back. Jastrow (Λέγετε) 12:48, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

l —Preceding unsigned comment added by 84.193.82.205 (talk) 14:48, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

Unfree v slaved[edit]

I undid Kemkem's edition (unfree poulation -> slaved population) for the following reasons. As explained in the rest of the introduction, the precise status of Helots is difficult to evaluate. We definitely know there weren't free, but there is a difference between their status and that of chattel slaves. In some ways, they can be seen as akin to medieval serfs (see Talk:Slavery_in_ancient_Greece#Serfs). Please refer to unfree labour for other kinds of unfree work which aren't slavery: labour camps, bonded labour, etc. The word is routinely used by historians, see for instance Cartledge in Spartan Reflections about Helots. Jastrow (Λέγετε) 20:05, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

"especially slaves"?[edit]

This phrase in the lede does not make a lot of sense in standard English. I suspect it should be "essentially slaves", but I can't find the cited reference. Perhaps an editor who collects books on oratory could check this. Paulmlieberman (talk) 17:14, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

It might need a bit more of a rewrite than that. The Critias fragment and Plutarch passage both speak to the fact that in Sparta a slave was more of a slave than slaves anywhere else were. I think the person who added that text was construing the word "especially" (μάλιστα) with "slaves" when it more properly should be taken with the entire statement. That is, something like: In Sparta "especially" or, rather, "in the highest degree" (ὡς μάλιστα) were slaves slaves and free men free.  davidiad { t } 23:52, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
This article was originally translated from French. From what I remember, the French original translation was "spécialement esclaves”, which sounds weird in French too. Anyway, I don't have an English translation Libanios' passage, but A. Powell provides a paraphrase in Classical Sparta: The Techniques Behind Her Success (p.31): "Critias' remark that at Sparta the free men were the most free, and the slaves the most enslaved." Jastrow (Λέγετε) 10:48, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
It's probably still awkward, but it's early here and I'm muddleheaded and lazy: I've changed the quote to "slaves to the utmost". Please feel free to better present/integrate this.  davidiad { t } 11:45, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

The Helot Revolts[edit]

This part of the article may be the worst written Wikipedia text I have ever read. It's not objective and has no regard for grammar at all. It may be a translation problem, but whatever it is, AHHHHHH! Kingsocarso (talk) 03:34, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

--- Absolutely agree. What part of NPOV did the author not understand when writing: "In fact the Helot rebelled in one of the most famous uprisings in the history of our Earth as they finally decided to react to the mistreatment that they had been given by the Sparta." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.180.102.152 (talk) 16:16, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

"Treatment by Spartans" is clearly not NPOV[edit]

Hi, I'm not a regular Wikipedian so I don't know enough of the system to fix it myself, but I'd like to point out that the current "Treatment by Spartans" section looks like Spartan apologetics. It cites no sources and is unencyclopedic in tone. I know enough to put a "multiple issues" tag on there so hopefully this can get resolved by people that know more. 143.167.213.119 (talk) 01:45, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

Yeah I was also pretty shocked to see that entire section in there reading like original research and not even bothering to have sources. Needs to be fixed/reverted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.201.159.21 (talk) 06:39, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

This is an encyclopedia, not a human interest piece[edit]

The "treatment by Spartans" section needs significant improvement. I do not know enough about the realities of Helot life in Spartan society to take issue with any specific claims made this section, but the way it is written looks more like an OP-ED than an encyclopedic work. In particular I refer to the passage beginning "So why the revolts?". JustOneOfThosePeople (talk) 05:10, 30 October 2014 (UTC)