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The traditional dates for Anaxandridas and Ariston are 560-520; 560-510. This second Arcadian war (circ. 550 B.C.) is historical; but it is interesting to see that H.'s account is made up of oracles and legendary details (cf. the similar account of the first Aeginetan war, v. 82-7, which is a little earlier in date).

Perhaps there is a confusion between the famous Orestes and an Arcadian hero Oresthes (cf. ix. 11. 2 n. Ὀρέσθειον). Pausanias (viii. 5. 3) makes the former migrate from Mycenae to Tegea, but this is probably a late invention. The discovery of supposed relics is no doubt a fact; we may compare the legend as to Alexander's body (Ael. V. H. xii. 64), and the removal of the bones of Theseus to Athens (circ. 470 B.C.; Plut. Cim. 8). The present translation is the consecration of the Lacedaemonian hegemony in Peloponnese, as the later one is that of Athenian hegemony in the Aegean.

For the work of Delphi in unifying local cults cf. Paus. viii. 9. 2 (the translation of the bones of Arcas from Maenalus).

Two ideas underlie the Lacedaemonian policy:

(1) They were consciously aiming at identification with Achaean traditions (cf. v. 72. 3, vii. 159).

(2) The local hero's remains were the talisman that secured the land's security (cf. Soph. O. C. 1522 for their concealment, and Tylor, P. C.4 ii. 150).

The discovery of gigantic fossil bones (Frazer, P. ii. 483) probably is the origin of this and similar stories; the almost mediaeval character of the tradition (cf. the translation of St. Mark's relics to Venice in the ninth century) reminds us how far removed from their predecessors and from the mass of their countrymen were the rationalist Athenians of the fifth century and later.

καὶ τύπος κτλ.: here the ‘sound’ is ‘the echo of the sense’.

πῆμα: a reference in part to the idea that the iron age was the last and worst; but also (cf. 68. 4) to the fact that iron is the material of deadly weapons.

ἐπιτάρροθος. The finder of the hero's bones would by their aid become the helper, i. e. ‘patron’ of Tegea.

The Spartan royal bodyguard were called Ἱππεῖς, although we only hear of them serving on foot; we are expressly told (Strabo, 481) that they differed from the Cretan ἱππεῖς in having no horses; the name is a survival from early times (cf. ἡνίοχοι and παραβάται in Theban Sacred Band (Diod. xii. 70) for a like survival). This is more probable than that they were mounted infantry, like the early Athenian ἱππεῖς (cf. 63. 2 n.), who used horses as a means of transport, but fought on foot. There was no genuine cavalry in Laconia till 424 B. C., when παρὰ τὸ εἰωθός (Thuc. iv. 55. 2) a corps of 400 horsemen was set up.

The Spartan ‘horsemen’ were three hundred in number, cf. vii. 205. 2 (though this corps at Thermopylae was perhaps specially selected), viii. 124. 3; Thuc. v. 72. 4. In vi. 56 the king's bodyguard is only one hundred. H. seems to imply that they served by rotation; perhaps thirty were enrolled each year, one from each ὠβή. Some see in this the explanation of τριηκάς (65. 5); if this be so, perhaps the five seniors among those serving their last year were ἀγαθοεργοί and had civil functions. Xenophon (Rep. Lac. iv. 3) speaks of a special body of three hundred, chosen each year by three ἱππαγρέται, nominated by the ephors; if these three hundred are the ‘knights’, the change in method of election may be a mark of the increased power of the ephors in later times.

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 12.70
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.9.2
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1522
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.72.4
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.55.2
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 8
    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 12.64
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