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The honours given the Spartan kings are divided into three classes: (1) in war, ch. 56; (2) in peace, ch. 57; (3) after death, ch. 58. H. (cf. 58. 1) perhaps regards them as resting on some such contract between king and people as the monthly oath in Xen. Rep. Lac. xv. 7. The eponymous hero Lacedaemon is (in Paus. iii. 1. 2, 20. 2), son of Zeus and Taygete, and husband of Sparta. His shrine was at Alesiae between Therapne and Taygetus. With Ζεὺς Λακεδαίμων Stein compares Ζεὺς Ἀγαμέμνων, Ζ. Ἀμφιάραος, Ζ. Ἀμφικτύων, Ζ. Ἡρακλῆς, Ζ. Τροφώνιος, but none of these is so definitely local. Ζεὺς Λακεδαίμων would seem to be a primitive local deity, possibly chthonian, afterwards degraded into a ‘hero’. Ζεὺς Οὐράνιος is the lord of the heavens. The latter cult (τὰ μέγαλα Οὐράνια) continued under the Roman empire (C. I G. 1241, 1420). The Spartan kings as Heracleids were descendants of Zeus, and his natural representatives, as were the Heracleid kings of Macedon of the Bottiaean Zeus, and the Aeacid princes in Epirus of the Dodonaean (Preller, i. 149). Xenophon (Rep. Lac. xiii and xv) tells us the king offered all public sacrifices, and in particular, to Zeus Agetor on setting forth to war, and to Zeus and Athena on crossing the frontier.

πόλεμον ἐκφέρειν. Perhaps in prehistoric times the kings could actually declare war, but, even if this be so, the necessity of the people's consent was early established (cf. App. XVII, § 2). Traces of the royal control of foreign affairs may be found even in the fifth century (cf. v. 74, 75; vi. 73), but later this power was vested in the Ephors (Xen. Hell. iii. 1. 1; v. 2. 9, 11); Xenophon describes this state of things when he limits the power of the kings to the conduct of the campaign. (Rep. Lac. ch. xv στρατίαν ὅποι ἂν πόλις ἐκπέμπῃ ἡγεῖσθαι, cf. ch. xiii.) Only when he had crossed the frontier after favourable auspices (διαβατήρια) did the king exercise a really sovran power (Thuc. v. 60, 66; viii. 5, and in general App. XVII, § 2). Even in the field insubordination was not unknown (ix. 55; Thuc. v. 72).

ἐν τῷ ἄγεϊ. Probably such an execration entailed exile (cf. Thuc. v. 72). Such curses often were extended to the whole house (cf. Hicks, 23; C. I. G. 2691; Aeschin. c. Ctes. § 110).

πρώτους: cf. Xen. Rep. Lac. xiii οὐδεὶς αὐτοῦ πρόσθεν πορεύεται, πλὴν Σκιρῖται καὶ οἱ προερευνώμενοι ἱππεῖς.

ἑκατόν. The full number of ἱππεῖς was three hundred; cf. i. 67. 5 n., vii. 205. 2, viii. 124. 3; Thuc. v. 72. This hundred might be the contingent of one of the three Dorian tribes.

προβάτοισι: for offerings, victims being required for the διαβατήρια and for sacrifices before battle. The king's perquisites remind us of Homeric customs (cf. Il. vii. 321; Od. iv. 66), and may be due to the religious origin of the office. For similar priestly claims cf. 1 Sam. ii. 13 f.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Homer, Odyssey, 4.66
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.1.2
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.60
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.72
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 3.1.1
    • Homer, Iliad, 7.321
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