The ancient Spartans represent a race in which a high level of sex morality existed, and who were noted for their chastity. The sexes lived apart, even after marriage, the men sleeping together in one dormitory and the women in another. After the act of conception, which followed marriage, Plutarch, in his life of Lycurgus, states that the man “modestly retired to his companions, and reposing with them at night, nor even visiting his bride but with great caution and apprehension of being discovered by the rest of the family. Some of them even had children before they had an interview with their wives in the day time. This kind of commerce not only exercised their temperance and chastity, but kept their bodies fruitful, and the first ardor of their love free and unabated; for they were not satiated like those that are always with their wives.”
To achieve the chastity which he considered essential for the preservation of the vigor of the Spartan race, Lycurgus, the law-giver of Sparta, forbade the consumption of meats and other stimulating foods, and enforced a vegetarian diet. Alcoholics were also prohibited. He forbade eating at home, and had the Spartans eat at collective public tables; and by thus controlling their diet, he was able to control their morality. He forbade his people “to call in the assistance of butchers and cooks, or to fatten like voracious animals in private. For so not only their manners would be corrupted but their bodies disordered, and abandoned to all manner of sensuality and dissoluteness; and they would require long hours of sleep.”
In Sparta, a matriarchate in which women had great power, the boys were brought up to be chaste. Xenophon tells us that it is easier to make a pillar of stone or a marble statue move its eyes than a Spartan boy. The boys, he said, were more bashful than the girls. A woman of another country said to a Spartan woman, “You of Lacedoemon are the only women in the world that rue the men.” She answered, “We are the only women that bring forth men.” The bravery and physical perfection of the Spartan race made them famous throughout the ages.