Mothax: type of citizen in ancient Sparta.

Ancient Sparta was famous for its warriors, the Spartiates, who had received a full military training (agoge) and were considered to be the elite of the city-state. The Spartiates, however, were not the only class in Spartan society. The mothakes are one of the lesser known groups. There at least four theories about their characteristics:

  1. they were the sons of Spartiat fathers and helot mothers;
  2. they were bastards;
  3. they belonged to families that could not afford to pay the full training, but were sponsored by others;
  4. they were orphans, whose training was overseen by guardians.

However this may be, it is reasonably clear that mothakes could enter the Spartan elite, and we know that several of them (e.g., Gylippus and Lysander) had important commands during the second phase of the Peloponnesian War. This may have been a crisis measure.

The mothakes were probably identical to the mothônes that are also mentioned in our sources.

This page was created in 2005; last modified on 23 November 2018.