It was not, however, the chief design of Lycurgus then to leave his city in command over a great many others, but he thought that the happiness of an entire city, like that of a single individual, depended on the prevalence of virtue and concord within its own borders. The aim, therefore, of all his arrangements and adjustments was to make his people free-minded, self-sufficing, and moderate in all their ways, and to keep them so as long as possible.
His design for a civil polity was adopted by Plato, Diogenes, Zeno, and by all those who have won approval for their treatises on this subject, although they left behind them only writings and words. Lycurgus, on the other hand, produced not writings and words, but an actual polity which was beyond imitation, and because he gave, to those who maintain that the much talked of natural disposition to wisdom exists only in theory, an example of an entire city given to the love of wisdom, his fame rightly transcended that of all who ever founded polities among the Greeks.
Therefore Aristotle says that the honours paid him in Sparta were less than he deserved, although he enjoys the highest honours there. For he has a temple, and sacrifices are offered to him yearly as to a god. It is also said that when his remains were brought home, his tomb was struck by lightning, and that this hardly happened to any other eminent man after him except Euripides, who died and was buried at Arethusa in Macedonia. The lovers of Euripides therefore regard it as a great testimony in his favour that he alone experienced after death what had earlier befallen a man who was most holy and beloved of the gods.
Some say that Lycurgus died in Cirrha; Apollothemis, that he was brought to Elis and died there; Timaeus and Aristoxenus, that he ended his days in Crete; and Aristoxenus adds that his tomb is shown by the Cretans in the district of Pergamus, near the public highway. It is also said that he left an only son, Antiorus, on whose death without issue, the family became extinct.
His friends and relations, however, instituted a periodical assembly in his memory, which continued to be held for many ages, and they called the days on which they came together, Lycurgidae. Aristocrates the son of Hipparchus says that the friends of Lycurgus, after his death in Crete, burned his body and scattered the ashes into the sea, and that this was done at his request, and because he wished to prevent his remains from ever being carried to Sparta, lest the people there should change his polity, on the plea that he had come back, and that they were therefore released from their oaths. This, then, is what I have to say about Lycurgus.