The ancient Greek city-state of Sparta has made its way into modern minds as a land of warriors. During the fourth and fifth centuries B.C., the Spartans earned the respect and fear of much of the ancient world with their pursuit of military excellence at all costs.
But there was a dark side to this ruthless pursuit of military might. For example, the Spartan slaves known as helots endured unimaginable suffering while living alongside a society of trained killers. The helots were brutalized, humiliated, and – via a brutal rite of passage that the Spartans called the Krypteia – hunted down and killed.