previous next

Concerning the government of the Laconians and the changes that took place among them, one might omit most things as well known, but there are certain things which it is perhaps worthwhile to mention. For instance, they say that the Achaeans of Phthiotis came down with Pelops into the Peloponnesus, took up their abode in Laconia, and so far excelled in bravery that the Peloponnesus, which now for many ages had been called Argos, came to be called Achaean Argos, and the name was applied not only in a general way to the Peloponnesus, but also in a specific way to Laconia; at any rate, the words of the poet, “"Where was Menelaüs?"
1“or was he not in Achaean Argos?"
2are interpreted by some thus: "or was he not in Laconia?" And at the time of the return of the Heracleidae, when Philonomus betrayed the country to the Dorians, the Achaeans emigrated from Laconia to the country of the Ionians, the country that still today is called Achaea. But I shall speak of them in my description of Achaea.3 Now the new possessors of Laconia restrained themselves at first, but after they turned over the government to Lycurgus they so far surpassed the rest that they alone of the Greeks ruled over both land and sea, and they continued ruling the Greeks until they were deprived of their hegemony, first by the Thebans, and immediately after them by the Macedonians. However, they did not wholly yield even to the Macedonians, but, preserving their autonomy, always kept up a struggle for the primacy both with the rest of the Greeks and with the kings of the Macedonians. And when the Macedonians had been overthrown by the Romans, the Lacedaemonians committed some slight offences against the praetors who were sent by the Romans, because at that time they were under the rule of tyrants and had a wretched government; but when they had recovered themselves, they were held in particular honor, and remained free, contributing to Rome nothing else but friendly services. But recently Eurycles has stirred up trouble among them, having apparently abused the friendship of Caesar unduly in order to maintain his authority over his subjects; but the trouble4 quickly came to an end, Eurycles retiring to his fate,5 and his son6 being averse to any friendship of this kind.7 And it also came to pass that the Eleuthero-Lacones8 got a kind of republican constitution, since the Perioeci9 and also the Helots, at the time when Sparta was under the rule of tyrants, were the first to attach themselves to the Romans. Now Hellanicus says that Eurysthenes and Procles drew up the constitution;10 but Ephorus censures Hellanicus, saying that he has nowhere mentioned Lycurgus and that he ascribes the work of Lycurgus to persons who had nothing to do with it. At any rate, Ephorus continues, it is to Lycurgus alone that a temple has been erected and that annual sacrifices are offered, whereas Eurysthenes and Procles, although they were the founders, have not even been accorded the honor of having their respective descendants called Eurysthenidae and Procleidae; instead, the respective descendants are called Agidae, after Agis the son of Eurysthenes, and Eurypontidae, after Eurypon the son of Procles; for Agis and Eurypon reigned in an honorable way, whereas Eurysthenes and Procles welcomed foreigners and through these maintained their overlordship; and hence they were not even honored with the title of "archegetae,"11 an honor which is always paid to founders; and further, Pausanias,12 after he was banished because of the hatred of the Eurypontidae, the other royal house, and when he was in exile, prepared a discourse on the laws of Lycurgus, who belonged to the house that banished him,13 in which he also tells the oracles that were given out to Lycurgus concerning most of the laws.

1 Hom. Od. 3.249

2 Hom. Od. 3.351

3 8. 7. 1.

4 Eurycles likewise abused the friendship of Herod the Great and others (Josephus Antiq. Jud. 16.10 and Josephus Bell. Jud. 1.26.1-5).

5 Others interpret the clause to mean simply "he died," but the Greek certainly alludes to his banishment by Caesar (Josephus Bell. Jud. 1.26.4 and Plut. Apophth. 208a), after which nothing further is known of him (see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. "Eurykles").

6 Gaius Julius, apparently named after Julius Caesar. In an inscription found on Cape Taenarum by Falconer he was extolled as the special benefactor of the Eleuthero-Lacones.

7 i.e., disloyalty to Caesar.

8 That is, "Free Laconians." Augustus released them from their subjection to the Lacedaemonians, and hence the name. At first they had twenty-four cities, but in the time of Pausanias only eighteen. For the names see Paus. 3.21.6

9 "Perioeci" means literally "people living round (a town)," but it came to be the regular word for a class of dependent neighbors. They were not citizens, though not state slaves as were the Helots.

10 Strabo now means the Spartan constitution.

11 i.e., the original, or independent, founders of a new race or state.

12 A member of the house of the Agidae, and king of Sparta, 408-394 B.C. (Diod. Sic. 13.75 and 14.89).

13 He was the sixth in descent from Procles (10. 4. 18).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1877)
load focus English (H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., 1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: