LYCURGUS (8th c.?): [Founder of the Spartan ‘Constitution’]
- -Being asked why he had not made any use of written laws, he said, "Because those who are trained and disciplined in the proper discipline can determine what will best serve the occasion."
- -"Lycurgus did not put his laws in writing: in fact, one of the so-called rhetras is a prohibition to this
effect. Instead he reckoned that the guiding principles of most importance for the happiness and excellence of a state would remain securely fixed if they were embedded in the citizens' character and
training..." (Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus ch. 13)
- -In answer to a man who expressed surprise because (Lycurgus) did not permit a husband to spend the night with his wife, but ordained that he should be with his comrades most of the day and pass the whole night in their company, and visit his bride in secret and with great circumspection, he said, "So that they may be strong in body and never become sated, and that they may always be fresh in affection, and that the children which they bring into the world may be more sturdy."
- -He banished perfume, on the ground that it spoiled and ruined the olive oil; and also the dyer's art, on the ground that it was a flattery to the senses."
ARCHIDAMUS son of Zeuxidamus (King, 469-427):
- -When someone inquired of him who were at the head of Sparta, said, "The Laws, and the
Magistrates in accordance with the Laws."
- -In the Peloponnesian War (431-421), when his allies sought to know hoe much money would be
needed, and said that it was only fair that he should set a limit on their contributions, he said "War does
not feed on fixed rations."
- -When he saw the missile shot by a catapult (which had been brought then for the first time from Sicily), he exclaimed, "Heracles! The valor of men is lost!"
AGESILAUS (King 398-360):
- -When he was still a boy, at a celebration of the festival of the GYMNOPAIDIA ['naked boys'] the
Chorus Director assigned him to an inconspicuous place, and he obeyed, although he was already
destined to be king. He remarked, "Good! I shall show that it is not the palces that make men to be held
in honor, but the men the places."
- -He advised his friends to try to be rich, not in money, but in bravery and virtue. He found more reason
for pride in his working just as hard as anybody else, and in his control over himself, rather than in
being King. When he was called home by the EPHORS because of the war which had been declared
against Sparta by the surrounding Greek states corrupted by the money which had been sent to them by the Persian king, he said that the good commander ought to be subject to the command of the Laws; and thus he sailed away from Asia, leaving behind a great yearning for him among the Greeks there.
Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus ch. 18:
"Whether a boy's standing was good or bad, his lover shared it. There is a story that once when a boy had let slip a despicable cry in the course of a fight, it was his lover whom the Ephors fined. Sexual relations of this type were so highly valued that respectable women would in fact have love affairs with unmarried girls. Yet there was no rivalry; instead, if individual males found that their affections had the same object, they made this the foundation for mutual friendship, and eagerly pursued their joint efforts to perfect their loved one's character...."
January 26, 2010 1:47 PM
John Paul Adams, CSUN