Humanities › History & Culture Who Were the Ancient Kings of Sparta? Share Flipboard Email Print Print Collector/Getty Images / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Greece Figures & Events Ancient Languages Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated August 07, 2019 The ancient Greek city of Sparta was ruled by two kings, one from each of the two founding families, Agaidai and Eurypontidae. Spartan kings inherited their roles, a job filled by the leader of each family. Although not much is known about the kings — note how few of the kings listed below even have regnal dates — ancient historians have pieced together general information about how the government worked. Spartan Monarchical Structure Sparta was a constitutional monarchy, made up of the kings, advised by and (supposedly) controlled by a college of ephors; a council of elders called the Gerousia; and an assembly, known as the Apella or Ecclesia. There were five ephors who were elected annually and swore fealty to Sparta rather than the kings. They were there to call up the army and receive foreign envoys. The Gerousia was a council made up of men who were over the age of 60; they made decisions in criminal cases. The Ecclesia was made up of every Spartan male full citizen who had attained his 30th birthday; it was led by the ephors and they supposedly made decisions on when to go to war and who would be the commander in chief. Dual Kings Having two kings share power was fairly common in several Bronze Age Indo-European societies; they shared power but had different roles. Like Mycenaean kings in Greece, the Spartans had a political leader (the Eurypontidae kings) and a war leader (the Agaidai kings). Priests were people outside of the regnal pair and neither of the kings was considered sacred — although they could enable contact with the gods, they were never interpreters. They were involved in certain religious or cultic activities, members of the priesthood of Zeus Lacedaemon (a cult group based honoring the mythical king of Laconia) and Zeus Ouranos (Uranus, the primal sky god). The Spartan kings weren't believed to be supernaturally strong or sacred, either. Their role in Spartan life was shouldering certain magisterial and juridical responsibilities. Although this made them relatively weak kings and there was always input from the other pieces of the government on most of the decisions they made, most of the kings were fierce and acted independently most of the time. Remarkable examples of this include the famed first Leonidas (ruled 490–480 BCE for the house of Agaidai), who traced his ancestry to Hercules and was featured in the movie "300". Names & Dates of the Kings of Sparta House of Agaidai House of Eurypontidai Agis 1 Echestratos Eurypon Leobotas Prytanis Dorrusas Polydectes Agesilaus I Eunomos Archilaus Charillos Teleklos Nikandros Alkamenes Theopompos Polydoros Anaxandridas I Eurykrates Archidamos I Anaxandros Anaxilas Eurykratidas Leotychidas Leon 590-560 Hippocratides 600–575 Anaxandrides II 560–520 Agasicles 575–550 Cleomenes 520–490 Ariston 550–515 Leonidas 490–480 Demaratus 515–491 Pleistrachus 480–459 Leotychides II 491–469 Pausanias 409–395 Agis II 427–399 Agesipolis I 395–380 Agesilaus 399–360 Cleombrotos 380–371 Agesipolis II 371–370 Cleomenes II 370–309 Archidamos II 360–338 Agis III 338–331 Eudamidas I 331– ? Araios I 309–265 Archidamos IV Akrotatos 265–255? Eudamidas II Araios II 255/4–247? Agis IV ?–243 Leonidas 247?–244;243–235 Archidamos V ?–227 Kleombrotos 244–243 [interregnum] 227–219 Kleomenes III 235–219 Lykurgos 219– ? Agesipolis 219– Pelops(Machanidas regent) ?–207 Pelops(Nabis regent) 207–? Nabis ?–192 Sources Chronology of Monarchical Rule (from the now-defunct Herodotus website)Adams, John P. “The kings of Sparta.” California State University, Northridge. Lyle, Emily B. "Dumezil's Three Functions and Indo-European Cosmic Structure." History of Religions 22.1 (1982): 25-44. Print.Miller, Dean A. "The Spartan Kingship: Some Extended Notes on Complex Duality." Arethusa 31.1 (1998): 1-17. Print.Parke, H. W. "The Deposing of Spartan Kings." The Classical Quarterly 39.3/4 (1945): 106-12. Print.Thomas, C. G. "On the Role of the Spartan Kings." Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 23.3 (1974): 257-70. Print. Who Was the Spartan General Lysander? What Was the Ecclesia in Sparta? Aristotle's Thoughts on the Spartan Government 7 Points to Know About Ancient Greek Government Did Hector Kill Menelaus King of Sparta? For the Norse, Would You Be Ranked a Thrall, a Karl, or a Jarl? Pericles Was the Leader of Classical Athens During the Periclean Age Sparta's Rise to Power & How it Happened Quotations from Leonidas of Sparta Like Children in Military Areas Today, Spartans Grew Up Fast Biography of Sobhuza II King of Swazi Lycurgus - Spartan Lawgiver Legendary Lycurgus the Lawgiver of Sparta Who Was the Greek God Zeus and Why Was He Important? Introduction to the Persian Wars Why Was the Peloponnesian War Fought?