Imágenes de páginas

which we have concerning both, of a supernatural kind, the difference is great. For Romulus was preserved by the signal favour of heaven; but as the oracle, which commanded Ægeus not to approach any woman in a foreign country, was neglected, the birth of Theseus appears to have been unacceptable to the gods.






Different opinions about the age of Lycurgus. His origin. He be

comes king of Sparta, and afterward guardian to the king his nephew. His travels : and return to Sparta. He consults the Delphic oracle. His laws, and senate. Respective rights of the people and kings in their assemblies. Authority of the Ephori. Division of the territory. Substitution of iron currency to that of gold and silver. The useless arts banished from Sparta. Public repasts established. Insurrection of the rich citizens. Alcander thrusts out one of his eyes. The regulations of the public repasts. Their use.

Black broth. No written laws. Regulations about building; and military affairs. Marriages; and education of daughters. Encouragements of marriage, and laws on the subject. Community of women. Education of infants : of boys of seven, and of twelve years of age. Theft permitted. Mode of cultivating the judgement of infants. Short and lively repartees of the Spartans. Music and songs. Military dress. March to battle. Lycurgus' war-talents. The mechanic arts resigned to the Helots. No law-suits at Sparta. Perpetual festivals. Thc god of laughter. Laws regulating the election of senators: funerals, and mourning: travels, and foreigners. Reflerions. Ly

curgus exacts an oath of the citizens, that they will observe his ordinances; and sets out for Delphi. His code subsists five centuries. Epoch and cause of it's decay. It's advantages. Lycure gus, after his death, receives divine honours.

OF Lycurgus the lawgiver we have nothing to relate, that is certain and uncontroverted. For there are different accounts of his birth, his travels, his death, and especially of the laws and form of government, which he established. But least of all are the times agreed upon, in which this great man lived. For some say he flourished at the same period with Iphitus', and joined with him

The Life of Lycurgus was the first which Plutarch publish: ed, as he himself observes in the Life of Theseus. He seems, like Xenophon, to have had a strong attachment to the Spartans and their customs. For beside this Life, and those of several other Spartan chiefs, we have a treatise of his on the laws and customs of the Lacedæmonians, and another of Laconic Apophthegms. He makes Lycurgus in all things a perfect hero, and adduces his behaviour as a proof that the wise man, so often described by the philosophers, was not a merely ideal character unattainable by human nature. It is certain, however, that the enconiums bestowed upon him and his laws by the Delphic oracle were merely a contrivance between the Pythoness and himself: and some of his regulations, for instance, that concerning the women, were highly exceptionable.

Iphitus king of Elis is said to have instituted, or rather restored, the Olympic games, 108 years before what is commonly reckoned the first Olympiad, which commenced B. C. 776 and bore the name of Corcebus, as the following Olympiads did those of other victors.

Iphitus began with offering a sacrifice to Hercules, whom the Eleans believed to have been upon some account exasperated against them. He next ordered the Olympic games, the discontinuance of which was said to have caused a pestilence, to be proclaimed throughout Greece with a promise of free admission to all comers, and fixed the time for their celebration. He likewise took upon himself to be sole president and judge of those games

in settling the cessation of arms during the Olympic games. Among these is Aristotle the philosopher, who refers for proof to an Olympic quoit, upon which was preserved the inscription of Lycurgus's name. But others who, with Eratosthenes and Apollodorus', compute the time by the successions of the Spartan kings, place him much earlier than the first Olympiad. Timæus however supposes that, as there were two Lycurguses in Sparta at different times, the actions of both are ascribed to one, on account of his particular renown; and that the more ancient of them lived not long after Homer: nay, some say that he had seen him. Xenophon likewise confirms the opinion of his antiquity, when he makes him contemporary with the Heraclidæ. It is true, the latest

a privilege which the inhabitants of Pisa had often disputed with his predecessors, and which continued to his descendents, as long as the regal dignity subsisted. After this the people appointed two presidents, which in time increased to ten, and at length to twelve.

During the celebration of the Olympic (as well as of the Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean) games, there was always a general armistice throughout Greece, in consequence of a solemn decree issued for that purpose (Pausan. v. 20.) If any troops entered Elis after this proclamation, they incurred a fine of two minæ per soldier. (Thucyd. v. 49.)*

* Eratosthenes (for his learning denominated the second Plato') an eminent historian, poet, and philosopher, flourished under Ptolemy Philopator; by whose father, Ptolemy Euergetes, he had been invited from Athens, to superintend the celebrated Alexandrian library

His contemporary, Apollodorus, wrote a work (still extant) upon mythology, containing an abridgement of the history of the gods and heroes of antiquity : beside some other volumes, now lost.*

* Strabo says, that Lycurgus the lawgiver certainly lived in the fifth generation after Althemenes, who led a colony into Crete. This Althemenes was the son of Cissus, who founded Argos at the same time that Patrocles, Lycurgus's ancestor in the fifth degree, laid the foundations of Sparta. So that Lycurgus flourished a short time after Solomon, about B. C. 900,

of the Lacedæmonian kings were of the lineage of the Heraclidæ; but Xenophon there seems to speak of the first and more immediate descendents of Hercules. As the history of those times is thus involved, in relating the circumstances of Lycurgus's life, we shall endeavour to select such as are least controverted, and follow authors of the greatest credit.

Simonides the poet informs us that Prytanis, not Eunomus, was the father of Lycurgus. But most writers give us the genealogy of Lycurgus and Eunomus in a different manner; for, according to them, Soüs was the son of Patrocles, and grandson of Aristodemus; Eurytion the son of Soüs, Prytanis of Eurytion, and Eunomus of Prytanis; to this Eunomus was born Polydectes by a former wife, and by a second, named Dianassa, Lycurgus. Eutychidas, however, says Lycurgus was the sixth from Patrocles, and the eleventh from Hercules. The most distinguished of his ancestors was Soüs, under whom the Lacedæmonians made the Helots their slaves", and gained an extensive tract of land from the Arcadians. Of this Soüs it is related that, being besieged by the Clitorians in a difficult post where there was no water, he agreed

6 This passage is in Xenophon's excellent Treatise on the republic of Sparta, from which Plutarch has taken the chief part of this life.

The Helots were inhabitants of Helos, a maritime town of Laconia. The Lacedæmonians, having conquered and made slaves of them, called not only them, but all their other slaves, Helots. It is certain however, that the descendents of the original Helots, though they were extremely ill-treated and some of them assassinated, subsisted many ages in Laconia.

* A people of Arcadia, so named from their metropolis, which was denominated after one of their kings. Near this city was a fountain, the water of which excited the greatest disgust for wine. (Ov. Met. xv. 322.) *

« AnteriorContinuar »