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Subsequently the Lacedæmonians relaxed the rigour of this way of living, and became more luxurious. At all events, Phylarchus, in the fifteenth and again in the twentieth book of his Histories, writes thus concerning them:—“The Lacedæmonians had given up assembling for the phiditia, according to the custom of their country, and whenever they met, after having had a few things brought round, for the sake of a seeing compliance with the law, other thins were then [p. 230] prepared; couches furnished in a very expensive way and of exceeding size, and all differing from one another in their adornment; so that some of the strangers who were invited used to be afraid to put their elbows on the pillows; and those who formerly used to rest on a bare bench during the whole banquet, perhaps once leaning on their elbows for a few minutes, had now come to such a pitch of luxury as I have spoken of, and to a serving up of many cups of wine, and of all sorts of food procured from all countries and dressed in every kind of luxurious way; and besides that, they had come to use foreign perfumes, and also foreign wines and sweetmeats. And the people began this fashion who lived a short time before the reign of Cleomenes, namely Areus and Acrotatus, rivalling the indulgences of the court of Persia; and they in their turn were so far exceeded by some private individuals, who lived in Sparta at that time, in their own personal extravagance, that Areus and Acrotatus appeared people of such rigid economy as to have surpassed the most simple of their predecessors in self-denial.”
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