S-Space College of Education (사범대학) Center for Educational Research (교육종합연구원) 교육연구와 실천 Journal of the College of Education (師大論叢) vol.64/65 (2002)
쉬시티아(syssitia) 는 과연 스파르타 군대의 최소 단위였는가?
Syssitia, the Core Unit of Classical Spartan Military System?
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 사범대학
- 사대논총, Vol.64, pp. 87-105
- Syssitia, together with the pedagogical agoge remarkably peculiar custom of male common mess in ancient Sparta, has been as usual regarded as the minimal unit of Spartan military force. Such a view can be said to be originated from the doctoral dissertation of Albert Bilschovsky written in the later half of nineteenth century. His first comprehensive survey on Syssitia, which has long resided as the principal standard for the study of Spartan common mess, received recently a renewed approval by Lavrencic, who published a book on Syssita in the line and style of Bilschovsky. In spite of this main stream, my doubt is that the everγday-life-syssitia could effectively have operated as wartime-syssitia or an elementary military unit. For despite of all the ancient and modem writers including Herodotos, Plato, Dionysios of Halicarnassos, Polyainus, and the two said earlier, who consistently suggest that syssitia was by its nature a military organization, we must not tum down Thucydides' comment that the smallest unit of Spatan army was Enomotia, and a genius modem student on ancient military affairs, Lazenby, who warned not to regard syssitia as such. Most importantly, there is an ever unsolved problem of syssitia formation, particularly on its number of members. Ancient sources are less informative than mixing or rather deranging on this basic and crucial matter. The most notorious is Plutarch, who at one time suggest 15 members of a syssitia, soon at the other time talk of "400 and 200" to the embarrassment of his modem followers. Bilschovsky’ solution is: err of manuscripting. He eagerly held on '15’-syssitia, and so suggested for the Agis' time 300 syssitia which consisted each of 15 members. Ingenuous exit, but problems still remain. From the ancient sources we know that the perioicoi fought side by side with the spartiates, but it is most unprobable that the perioicoi joined spartiates' syssita. Moreover, Xenophon and Thucydides even did not commented syssitia when they explained military affaires. And finally, hoplites' way of combat could not be possible with a high variety of age classes. Given the problems, we naturally seek for an better explanation on the formation and raison d'etre of syssitia other than Bilschovsky' s rather problematic intentional discarding of text. A new perspective on syssitia’ s formaition and nature of the auther's own is this: about 300 spartiates make up an syssitia, and 15 table-mates go to the combat-field as a part of Enomotia. This can also explain how the age variance of a syssitia did not disturb making most unvulnerable military units. The relationship between the everyday-syssitia and wartime-enomotia could thus be explained away, but we must not forget that all these are mainly speculation and the limit is obvious.