I recently stumbled upon this very amusing post by TopTenz on ancient Spartan quotes--or quotes attributed to the ancient Spartans. I'd love to share these quotes an a short summary of the context with you today.

"What Splendid Women’s Quarters"
King Agesilaus was a Spartan king who ruled the state for 40 years. He was described as a small man of unimpressive stature but was well known for his courage and bravery. Like most Spartans, Agesilaus wasn’t a fan of walls made of brick and stone, believing that a city was defended by its men, not its fortifications. The above quote came from Agesilaus after an unnamed leader from a friendly city proudly showed the Spartan king his city’s impressive fortifications.

"These Are Sparta’s Walls"
Related to the above quote and also attributed to King Agesilaus. According to Plutarch in his book 'On Sparta', this quote was the stock response to anyone who questioned why Sparta lacked fortifications of any kind. Alternatively, he would merely point at his men for equal effect.

"Come and Take Them"
King Leonidas was quoted as saying this ('Molon Labe') upon being told to surrender his weapons by King Xerses. The Spartans were, at the time, outnumbered 200 to 1 but the didn't lose their courage and honour.

Around 350 BC, King Philip II of Macedon invaded Hellas. After he had several key footholds under his command, Philip decided to start putting pressure on Sparta and sent them the following threatening message: 'If I win this war, you will be slaves forever'. The Spartan’s sent back a single word in reply: 'if. King Philip left Sparta alone after that.

This one took place after the above. When King Philip expanded his empire across ancient Hellas, he sent a letter to the current Spartan king, asking if he wanted him to enter his lands as a friend or a foe. The only response Philip ever received was yet another single-word reply: 'Neither'.

"With It or On It"
This is not a direct quote, or at least not attributed to a single person. 'Come back with your shield, or on it' was noted by Plutarch as being the way Spartan mothers would bid their sons goodbye when they went off to war. In short: you either came vack victorious or dead. Even more: losing your shield was seen as the ultimate act of failure in Spartan society, because your shield not only protected you but the man next to you. Spartans who lost their shield in battle were expected to recover it, or die trying. Those who didn’t were labelled deserters, and even their own mothers would disown them.

"It Will Be the Size of a Lion When I Bore Down On My Enemies"
Spartan shields were more often than not family treasures. They were passed down from father to son and it wasn’t uncommon for a soldier to beat an enemy to death with same shield his grandfather had used. It also wasn’t uncommon for Spartans to decorate their shield. This served two purposes: it helped the individual Spartan be identified on the battlefield and it was very intimidating. This story came about as an unnamed Spartan soldier spent many hours painting a life-sized fly onto his shield. This annoyed his peers, who accused him of cowardice and of complete idiocy to boot. The young Spartan explained that the fly would be the size of a giant when he smashed it into his enemies’ face and no one would question his identity, bravery or intelligence.

"Dig It Out For Yourselves"
This moment was ortrayed epically in the movie '300', but they got the quote incorrect. The movie uses the quote: 'This. Is. Sparta!' as King Leonidas kicked a Persian messenger that came to Sparta to ask for their surrender down a well. It's recorded, howver, that the actual quote as he did this was: 'dig it out for yourselves' in relation to the required surrender payment of earth and water.

"So That We May Get Close to the Enemy"
The Spartan default weapon of choice for close combat was a short sword known as the xiphos. Upon being asked why the Spartans fought with daggers instead of swords, this was the Spartant retort.

"Because We are Also the Only Ones Who Give Birth to Men"
Women in ancient Hellas were assumed to take on a fairy passive role, except in Sparta. In contrast to the other women of ancient hellas, Spartan women enjoyed a much greater level of freedom than their peers could ever expect. this quote is attributed to Queen Gorgo, wife of Leonidas. The legend goes that, while travelling through Attica, a local woman approached Queen Gorgo and innocently asked her: 'why are you Spartan women the only ones who can rule men?' Gorgo very matter-of-factly replied: 'because we are also the only ones who give birth to them'.