Sparta’s dominance over other Greek states was greatly hampered and finally ended because of the impossibility of maintaining its power in the face of oliganthropia, an irreversible demographic shortfall of its citizen manpower. In Spartan Oliganthropia, Timothy Doran examines the population decline of the Spartiates in the Classical and Hellenistic eras, a reduction from 8,000 to fewer than 1,000. The causes and consequences of this decline are significant not only for ancient Greek history, but also for population studies of pre-industrial societies and population dynamics more generally. This work offers a fresh survey of representative modern scholarship on this phenomenon as well as its own conclusions, discussing topics such as elite under-reproduction, wealth polarization, the link between female empowerment and low birthrates, and ideological notions of eugenic exclusivity, suggesting avenues for further research.
Timothy Doran (Ph.D. 2011, Berkeley) is Assistant Professor of Ancient History and Big History at California State University - Los Angeles. His most recent publications on Spartan history have appeared in Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte and Ancient History Bulletin.
"Doran has succeeded in stressing the importance of phenomena that must have played a great role in the decline of the Spartan state. One of the positive features of the book is that Doran himself does not overestimate the signifi cance of his favourite causes of oliganthropia. Furthermore, he obviously has a very good command of relevant scholarly literature, his occasional criticisms are polite and respectful, he never pretends (so far as I can see) that a relevant controversy does not exist, and he succeeds in drawing our attention to aspects that have been rather neglected so far. The result is a praiseworthy achievement indeed."
- Pavel Nývlt, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, in: EIRENE, Studia Graeca et Latina, 56 (2020).
Spartan Oliganthropia Timothy Doran Abstract
2 Caveats, Mirages, and Mirageism
3 “The Numbers.” The Shape of Population Decline: The Ancient Evidence
4 Mechanisms Producing Oliganthropia: Wealth Concentration and Demotion
5 Sub-Replacement Fertility and Its Discontents
6 Oliganthropia, Female Status, and Spartiate Eugenic Exclusivity
7 Results of Oliganthropia: The Rise of the Marginal Classes
8 Results of Oliganthropia: The Breakdown of the Spartan State
9 Conclusion and Perspectives