Plutarco relata que cada año, al tomar posesión de su cargo, los éforos (magistrados) espartanos declaraban la guerra a los ilotas (esclavos públicos, propiedad del Estado). Así, podían matarlos sin cometer con ello un crimen. Se seleccionaba a aquellos jóvenes más capaces para la llamada Krypteia, una especie de policía secreta. Se los enviaba al campo aperados sólo de un puñal y la comida indispensable, descalzos y sin abrigo. De día permanecían escondidos, y al caer la noche mataban a todos los ilotas que encontraran, de preferencia los más fuertes, y robaban la comida que necesitaban. No está claro si era un rito de iniciación, si el objetivo era mantener a raya a los ilotas, u otro motivo.
Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus of Sparta, 28: https://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/krypteia.htm The magistrates from time to time sent out into the countryside at large the most discreet of the young men, equipped only with daggers and necessary supplies. During the day they scattered into obscure and out of the way places, where they hid themselves and lay quiet. But in the night, they came down to the roads and killed every Helot whom they caught. Often, too, they actually made their way across fields where the Helots were working and killed the sturdiest and best of them. So, too, Thucydides, in his History of the Peloponnesian War [IV.80], states that the Helots who had been judged by the Spartans to be superior in bravery, set wreathes upon their heads in token of their emancipation, and visited the temples of the gods in procession, but in a little while afterwards all disappeared, more than two thousand of them, in such a way that no man was able to say, either then or afterwards, how they came to their deaths. And Aristotle in particular says also that the Ephors, as soon as they came into office, made formal declaration of war upon the Helots, so that there might be no impiety in slaying them."