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[[File: Sparta_territory.jpg|250px|thumbnail|left|Map Showing Sparta’s Location in the Peloponnesian Peninsula]]__NOTOC__
The idea of ancient Spartan heroism has been depicted so often in modern fiction that scholars have coined the term “Spartan Mirage” to refer to what they see as an exaggerated idealization of ancient Spartan culture that borders on mythologization. Films such as 300 routinely show the Spartans as the best trained, bravest, and most capable of all the Greeks, and for the most part, until the Spartans lost in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, that idea was not far from reality. Despite being outnumbered, the Spartans usually won the day and were vital to the Hellenic League’s victory in the Persian Wars (499-479 BC). The secret behind the Spartans’ martial success was their unique form of education known as the <i>agoge</i>.