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The Misconduct of Pausanias the Spartan

The Spartan Pausanias, victor of the battle of Plataea, was chosen to lead the first expedition of the naval alliance against the remaining Persian outposts in Greek territory. His arrogant and violent behavior1, especially toward women, quickly led to dissatisfaction with Spartan leadership among the Greek allies. This kind of outrageous conduct was to prove common in the future for Spartan men in positions of power when away from home. Their regimented training in Sparta apparently left them ill prepared to operate humanely and effectively once they had escaped from the constraints imposed by their austere way of life as “Equals2”, as Spartan adult male citizens were called, always under scrutiny by one another in their homeland. Spartan kings, too, who grew up under a freer regimen than did ordinary Spartan men, tended to lose sight of the Spartan tradition of austerity and just behavior when they campaigned abroad for long periods. Not even they were immune to the corrupting influence of the desire for luxury, which the austere life of Spartans at home in Sparta excluded as a matter of principle and law.

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