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2. Again, the enterprise and boldness of their attempted reforms were certainly very different in magnitude. For in their political activities Caius had in view the construction of roads and the founding of cities, and the boldest of all the projects of the Romans were, in the case of Tiberius the recovery of the public lands, and in that of Caius the reconstitution of the courts of justice by the addition of three hundred men from the equestrian order; [2] whereas Agis and Cleomenes in their reforms, considering that the application of trifling and partial remedies and excisions to the disorders of the state was nothing more than cutting off a Hydra's heads (as Plato says1), tried to introduce into the constitution a change which was able to transform and get rid of all evils at once; [3] though perhaps it is more in accordance with the truth to say that they banished the change which had wrought all sorts of evils, by bringing back the state to its proper form and establishing it therein. Besides, this also can be said, that the policies of the Gracchi were opposed by the greatest Romans, whereas those which Agis instituted and Cleomenes consummated were based upon the fairest and most imposing precedents, namely, the ancient rhetras or unwritten laws concerning simplicity of life and equality of property, for which Lycurgus was voucher to them, and the Pythian Apollo to Lycurgus.2 [4] But the most important consideration is that through the political activity of the Gracchi Rome made no advance in greatness, whereas, in consequence of the achievements of Cleomenes, within a short time Greece beheld Sparta mistress of the Peloponnesus and carrying on a struggle for the supremacy with those who then had the greatest power, the object of which struggle was to set Greece free from Illyrian and Gaelic troops and array her once more under descendants of Heracles.

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load focus Greek (Bernadotte Perrin, 1921)
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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Plato, Republic, 426e
    • Plutarch, Lycurgus, 13.1
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