From the verb σπείρω (speirō), and accordingly signifies "the sown men." They were a group of warriors born from the teeth of the Aeionian dragon. The monster was slain by Cadmus with the help of Athena. Following Athena's further instructions, Cadmus sowed the teeth and plowed them under. A number of men, armed and fully grown, emerged from the earth. Cadmus cast a stone among them and they fell to fighting among themselves, until five were left — Chthonius, Echion, Hyperenor, Pelor or Pelorus, and Udaeus.
The five Spartae joined Cadmus in the founding of the city of Thebes and are regarded as the ancestors of the five oldest families at Thebes.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses iii, 101 ff.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 5.2-3, 10.1.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 4.1.
- Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, iii, 1179; on Pindar's Isthmian Odes i, 41; on Euripides' Phoenician Women, 670; on Sophocles' Antigone, 128.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.