Music in Ancient Sparta

Microsoft Teams online event
Thursday 12th November 2020 (17:00-18:00)
Registration URL
Shallow dish depicting two figures in relief, standing either side of a large cup or urn surrounded by birds. Details in black against a cream background.

Laconian black-figure cup; musician and votary, 550BC.

Join James Lloyd for a discussion about Music in Ancient Sparta

Like much of ancient Greece, Sparta’s festivals resounded with the sounds of citizen choruses and the music of visiting professionals. Its laws and principles were captured by the songs of Tyrtaeus, and its social customs and mythologies were hymned in the works of Alcman. Later writers would attribute important innovations in music to the musicians who competed at Sparta’s early contests.

However, the predominant image of Spartan music is one of music and military (the Spartans were noted for marching into battle accompanied by music) and of extreme musical conservatism (a number of musicians had the strings of their instruments cut off by the Spartan authorities, so we are told). Yet what of these images is real, and what can be attributed to the Spartan mirage?

This talk will introduce listeners to the wide range of evidence we can draw on to answer that question (including the earliest known Hellenic aulos). There is also be a live demonstration of how Spartan music might have sounded.


The event will be hosted on Microsoft Teams via a link that will be shared here prior to the event. Simply follow the link to join the event. 

All are very welcome. Free to attend. 

Link to the Microsoft Teams live event (activates on the day of the event)

Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 4800
fax: +44 (0)115 951 4811