(ORDO NEWS) — Kryptia (from the Greek word “hidden” or “ambush”) – a punitive event that was organized by the slave-owning city-state of Sparta in order to intimidate helots, slaves who were forcibly engaged in agriculture.
The cryptia were carried out by the “secret police” of Sparta, which is a detachment of young, but well-trained Spartan warriors who did not wear heavy armor, and usually carried only a small dagger from weapons.
Slaves are the main threat to Sparta
Helots were slaves owned by the state. They had the right to engage only in agriculture, so instead of a monetary tax, they gave away part of the crop. Periodically, the helots rebelled against their enslavement, so the cryptia was supposed to help the state intimidate them and force them to obey further.
The “punishers” went to the countryside, where they rested in the shade during the day, and at night they attacked the helots and killed them. The main target was the largest and strongest men, who could pose the greatest danger in the event of another uprising.
One day, Sparta went to unprecedented meanness and cruelty, bringing cryptia to a completely different level. As the Greek historian Thucydides wrote:
“About two thousand people were chosen … rejoicing in their freedom. However, shortly thereafter, the Spartans finished them off, and no one ever knew how each of them died.
The secret police of Sparta escorted the “free” outside the city, and then killed them all.
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