And when, set free from teachers and tutors, he took part in the incursions into Spartan territory which his fellow-citizens made for the sake of booty and plunder, he accustomed himself to march first as they went out, but last as they came back. And when he had leisure, he would give his body hard exercise in hunting, thus rendering it agile and at the same time sturdy, or in cultivating the soil.
For he had a fine farm twenty furlongs from the city. To this he would go every day after dinner or after supper, and would throw himself down upon an ordinary pallet-bed, like anyone of his labourers, to sleep for the night. Then, early in the morning, he would rise and go to work along with his vine-dressers or his herdsmen, after which he would go back again to the city and busy himself about public matters with his friends or with the magistrates.
As for what he got from his campaigning, he used to spend it on horses, or armour, or the ransoming of captives; but his own property he sought to increase by agriculture, which is the justest way to make money. Nor did he practise agriculture merely as a side issue, but he held that the man who purposed to keep his hands from the property of others ought by all means to have property of his own. He also listened to the discourses and applied himself to the writings of philosophers—not all of them, but those whom he thought helpful to him in his progress towards virtue.
And as for the poems of Homer, whatever in them was thought by him to rouse and stimulate the activities of the soul which made for valour, to this he would apply himself. Among other writings, however, he was most of all devoted to the
‘Tactics’ of Evangelus, and was familiar with the histories of Alexander, thinking that literature was conducive to action, unless it were prosecuted merely to while away the time and afford themes for fruitless small talk.
Indeed, he would ignore the charts and diagrams for the illustration of tactical principles, and get his proofs and make his studies on the ground itself. The ways in which places slope to meet one another, and level plains come to an abrupt end, and all the vicissitudes and shapes of a phalanx when it is elongated and contracted again in the vicinity of ravines or ditches or narrow defiles, these he would investigate by himself as he wandered about, and discuss them with his companions.
For it would seem that he brought more zeal than was necessary to the study of military science, setting his affections on war as affording a most manifold basis for the practice of virtue, and despising as unsuccessful men those who left it to others.