previous next
30. But in the reign or Agis, gold and silver money first flowed into Sparta, and with money, greed and a desire for wealth prevailed through the agency of Lysander, who, though incorruptible himself, filled his country with the love of riches and with luxury, by bringing home gold and silver from the war, and thus subverting the laws of Lycurgus. [2] While these remained in force, Sparta led the life, not of a city under a constitution, but of an individual man under training and full of wisdom. Nay rather, as the poets weave their tales of Heracles, how with his club and lion's skin he traversed the world chastising lawless and savage tyrants, so we may say that Sparta, simply with the dispatch-staff and cloak of her envoys, kept Hellas in willing and glad obedience, put down illegal oligarchies and tyrannies in the different states, arbitrated wars, and quelled seditions, often without so much as moving a single shield, but merely sending one ambassador, whose commands all at once obeyed, just as bees, when their leader appears, swarm together and array themselves about him. Such a surplus fund of good government and justice did the city enjoy.

[3] Wherefore, I for one am amazed at those who declare that the Lacedaemonians knew how to obey, but did not understand how to command, and quote with approval the story of King Theopompus, who, when some one said that Sparta was safe and secure because her kings knew how to command, replied: ‘Nay, rather because her citizens know how to obey.’ [4] For men will not consent to obey those who have not the ability to rule, but obedience is a lesson to be learned from a commander. For a good leader makes good followers, and just as the final attainment of the art of horsemanship is to make a horse gentle and tractable, so it is the task of the science of government to implant obedience in men. And the Lacedaemonians implanted in the rest of the Greeks not only a willingness to obey, but a desire to be their followers and subjects. [5] People did not send requests to them for ships, or money, or hoplites, but for a single Spartan commander; and when they got him, they treated him with honour and reverence, as the Sicilians treated Gylippus; the Chalcidians, Brasidas; and all the Greeks resident in Asia, Lysander, Callicratidas, and Agesilaüs. These men, wherever they came, were styled regulators and chasteners of peoples and magistrates, and the city of Sparta from which they came was regarded as a teacher of well-ordered private life and settled civil polity. [6] To this position of Sparta Stratonicus would seem to have mockingly alluded when, in jest, he proposed a law that the Athenians should conduct mysteries and processions, and that the Eleians should preside at games, since herein lay their special excellence, but that the Lacedaemonians should be cudgelled if the others did amiss.1 This was a joke; but Antisthenes the Socratic, when he saw the Thebans in high feather after the battle of Leuctra,2 said in all seriousness that they were just like little boys strutting about because they had thrashed their tutor.

1 Cf. chapter xviii. 4.

2 In 371 B.C., when the Thebans under Epaminondas broke the supremacy of Sparta.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Bernadotte Perrin, 1914)
hide References (11 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: