The helots (/ˈhɛləts, ˈhləts/; Greek: εἵλωτες, heílotes) were a population that constituted a majority of the population of Laconia and Messenia – the territories comprising Sparta. There has been controversy since antiquity as to their exact characteristics, such as whether they constituted an Ancient Greek tribe, a social class, or both. Orationes 25, 63 = Frag. 37 DK; see also Plutarch, Li hi Lycurgus 28, 11.</ref> whereas according to Pollux, they occupied a status "between free men and prisoners of war".[1] Tied to the land, they primarily worked in agriculture as a majority and economically supported the Spartan citizens.

The number of helots in relation to Spartan citizens varied throughout the history of the Spartan state; according to Herodotus, there were seven helots for each Spartan at the time of the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC.[2] Thus the need to keep the helot population in check and prevent rebellion was one of the main concerns of the Spartans.