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Headword: Λυκοῦργος
Adler number: lambda,824
Translated headword: Lykourgos, Lycurgus
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
Spartiate, descendant of Prokles; lawgiver. They say he got his laws either from Crete or from the god. The Pythia also addressed him as a god. This man also legislated for physical training for virgins; and that men should not have continual intercourse with their wives; and that newborn children be nursed upon a shield and washed in the river Eurotas; and also the Gymnopaideia,[1] by which he compelled the young men, wearing no jackets, forever to devote themselves to physical training and to compete in public contests of excellence, and to sleep in the open air, and to have the sustenance that comes from hunting; and the practice of thorough beating[2] as an exercise for excellence instead of sullen envy; for previously a young man used to be sacrificed to Artemis Orthosia.[3] And also the 'philitia',[4] which are like symposia and contain pains mixed with pleasures; for no cushion lay under those who feasted, but under their elbows the stone or wood. And he also legislated that they should be arrayed in battle to [the sound of] pipes, making the dishonoured life worse than death and proving it to be so, but that there was a release for that man if afterwards he should show excellence. This happened to Aristodemos, who, being surnamed the Trembler from his desertion at Pylai,[5] cancelled out his dishonour by his excellent performance at Plataiai. Because of this man's laws, mothers when sending forth their male children to the wars used to say, with reference to their shields, 'Either it, or on it', which stands for 'Either bring this when you return, and don't be a shield-thrower, or be brought upon this as a corpse'.[6] This man appointed the other labours for the helots, but the practice of war for the well-born. And he expelled foreigners, suspecting the ruin that comes from intermingling. And he valued brevity of words, and poverty, believing the former to be a mark of wisdom, the latter a teacher of excellence. And [the?] god agrees with these: for often he ordained that one should guard against avarice. And establishing aristocracy and two kings from among the descendants of Herakles, he laid down that the elders should be ephors;[7] he made the people subordinate to them, selecting the best from each constitution.[8] And he bound the Lakedaimonians by oath not to abolish the law, and went on his travels. And after he had secured an oracle from the god that the Lakedaimonians would prosper to the degree that they did not transgress the laws of Lykourgos, he came to Crete and starved himself to death so that he himself might not be compelled to abolish them.[9]
The following was the end of life that came to Lykourgos the lawgiver.[10] Wishing, so they say, to ask the god about certain remaining laws, he bound the Lakedaimonians by oath that until he returned no one would abolish the law as it stood. And after they swore, because when securing an oracle from the god he heard that the city would be blessed if it persisted with that man's laws, he determined never to come back, making certainty of the protection offered by the oath. And going down to Crete he made away with himself. And the Lakedaimonians, realizing because of his former excellence and that which he was now adjudged to have had regarding his death, consecrated a temple to him and, founding an altar, they sacrifice to him as a hero once every year. For he was conspicuously the cause of the complete excellence and leadership of the Spartans, who in older times had were in no better condition than the rest; not only because he set up laws of the best sort, but also because, when they were unwilling, he induced them to use his laws by the following means. Taking two puppies from the same mother he started to bring them up, but separately from one another and with dissimilar behaviour: one at home, giving it cooked foods and other indulgence, [but] compelling the other to take part in hunts with dogs and tracking [with it] in the mountains. And as each of them became similar to its upbringing, when the Spartans were holding assembly with the perioikoi[11] regarding war and were in a quandary, he brought along both dogs into the midst of them, and along with them roe-deers and soups and cooked foods, and said, 'Spartans, that nothing else is the cause of success and failure but the use of customs that are mean or wise, it is now possible for you to see. And these here' - pointing to the dogs - 'being of the same mother but reared in the opposite way to one another, by this very reason have turned out dissimilar.[12] For the one that learned to hunt, and the other that learned to indulge itself, would each do nothing contrary to its [habit] if opportunity arose.' And at the same moment he ordered the dog-handler to let both of them loose upon the prepared items. One of them, the home-bred dog, leapt upon the cooked food, but the hunter leapt upon the deer, brought it down, and tore it apart. And Lykourgos once more said, 'Spartans, you must recognize that these things apply to you and to all other mortals. For whichever practices and laws you use, you are compelled to turn out that way with regard to pains and luxury; for all things that mortals may learn, the gods have given them. And the endurance of pain leads to the will to be free, to succeed, and to be master of all; but the enjoyment of pleasure leads to slavery, ill fortune, and worthlessness.' So with these words he induced the Spartans to change their established way of life and to be habituated to better laws. And obeying him they became, in relation not only to the perioikoi but to all Hellenes, transparently the best men and the perpetual leaders, from the moment they accepted the laws up to the five hundredth year; and in not much time they proceeded to great power.
Greek Original:
Λυκοῦργος, Σπαρτιάτης, Προκλέους ἀπόγονος, νομοθέτης, ὥς φασιν ἢ ἐκ Κρήτης ἢ παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τοὺς νόμους λαβών: ὃν καὶ θεὸν ἡ Πυθία προσηγόρευσεν. οὗτος καὶ γυμνάσια παρθένων ἐνομοθέτησε καὶ τὸ μὴ δεῖν συνεχεῖς ὁμιλίας πρὸς τὰς γυναῖκας ποιεῖσθαι: καὶ τὸ ἐπ' ἀσπίδος τρέφεσθαι καὶ ἐν Εὐρώτᾳ ποταμῷ λοῦσθαι τοὺς τεχθέντας, καὶ τὴν γυμνοπαιδείαν, ᾗ τοὺς ἐφήβους ἠνάγκαζε διὰ παντὸς μὴ ἔχοντας χλανίδα γυμνασίοις προσκεῖσθαι καὶ ἀγωνίζεσθαι δημοσίους ἀρετῆς ἀγῶνας ὑπαιθρίους τε κοιμᾶσθαι τροφήν τε ἔχειν τὴν ἐκ θήρας, τήν τε διαμαστίγωσιν, ἀρετῆς γυμνασίαν, ἀντὶ φόνου σκυθρωποῦ: ἔφηβος γὰρ πρότερον ἐθύετο τῇ Ἀρτεμίδι τῇ Ὀρθωσίᾳ. καὶ μέντοι καὶ τὰ φιλίτια, οἷά ἐστι συμπόσια, μεμιγμένους ἔχοντα ταῖς ἡδοναῖς τοὺς πόνους: οὐ γὰρ στρωμνή τις ὑπέκειτο εὐωχουμένοις, ἀλλ' ὑπὸ τοῖς ἀγκῶσι κοιλανθεὶς ὁ λίθος ἢ ξύλον. ἐνομοθέτησε δὲ καὶ τὸ ὑπ' αὐλοῖς παρατάσσεσθαι, θανάτου τὴν ἄτιμον ζωὴν εἶναι χείρονα τιθέμενος καὶ ἀποφαινόμενος, εἶναι δ' αὐτῷ λύσιν, εἰ μετὰ ταῦτα ἀριστεύσειε. τοῦτο Ἀριστοδήμῳ συνέβη, ὃς ὁ Τρέσας ἐπικληθεὶς ἐκ λειποταξίου τοῦ ἐν Πύλαις τῇ ἐν Πλαταιαῖς ἀριστείᾳ τὴν ἀτιμίαν ἔλυσε. διὰ τοὺς τούτου νόμους αἱ μητέρες ἐπὶ τοὺς πολέμους προπέμπουσαι τοὺς παῖδας περὶ τὰς ἀσπίδας, ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τάν, ἔλεγον: ἀντὶ τοῦ ἢ ταύτην κόμισαι ὑποστρέφων καὶ μὴ γίνῃ ῥίψασπις ἢ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ κομίσθητι νεκρός. οὗτος τοῖς μὲν εἵλωσι τὰς ἄλλας ἐργασίας, τοῖς δὲ εὐγενέσι τὴν πολεμικὴν ἄσκησιν προσέταξε: ξένους δὲ ἀπήλασε, τὴν ἐκ τῆς ἐπιμιξίας διαφθορὰν ὑφορώμενος: βραχυλογίαν τε ἐτίμησε καὶ πενίαν, τὴν μὲν σοφίας εἶναι σημεῖον, τὴν δὲ ἀρετῆς διδάσκαλον οἰηθείς. καὶ ὁμολογεῖ τούτοις ὁ θεός: φυλάττεσθαι γὰρ ἀνεῖλε πολλάκις φιλοχρηματίαν. ἀριστοκρατίαν δὲ καταστησάμενος καὶ βασιλέας δύο τῶν ἀφ' Ἡρακλέους ἔταξεν εἶναι καὶ ἐφόρους τοὺς γέροντας: οἷς τὸν δῆμον ὑπέταξεν, ἐξ ἑκάστης πολιτείας ἄριστον ἐκλεξάμενος. ὥρκωσε δὲ τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους μὴ λῦσαι νόμον, καὶ ἀπεδήμησε. χρήσαντος δὲ αὐτῷ τοῦ θεοῦ Λακεδαιμονίους εὐτυχήσειν, ἐφ' ὅσον ἂν μὴ παραβαίνωσι τοὺς Λυκούργου νόμους, ἐλθὼν εἰς Κρήτην ἀπεκαρτέρησεν, ὅπως μὴ αὐτὸς ἀναγκασθείη λῦσαι. ὅτι Λυκούργῳ τῷ νομοθέτῃ τοιάδε ἡ τελευτὴ τοῦ βίου ἐγένετο. βουλόμενος, ὥς φασι, θεὸν ἐρέσθαι περί τινων ὑπολοίπων νόμων, ὥρκωσε Λακεδαιμονίους ἄχρι ἐπάνεισι μηδένα λῦσαι τῶν κειμένων. ὀμοσάντων δ', ἐπεὶ χρηστηριαζόμενος ἤκουσε παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, ὡς εὐδαίμων ἡ πόλις ἔσοιτο, εἰ τοῖς ἐκείνου νόμοις ἐμμένοι, ἔγνω μηκέτι ἐπανελθεῖν, τὸ βέβαιον τῆς φυλακῆς ἐκ τοῦ ὅρκου ποιησάμενος. καταβὰς δὲ εἰς Κρήσσαν ἑαυτὸν διεργάζεται. Λακεδαιμόνιοι δὲ αἰσθόμενοι διά τε τὴν προτέραν ἀρετὴν καὶ τὴν τότε κριθεῖσαν περὶ τὸν θάνατον ναόν τε αὐτῷ ἐτεμένισαν καὶ βωμὸν ἱδρυσάμενοι θύουσιν ὡς ἥρωϊ ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος. περιφανῶς γὰρ δὴ Σπαρτιάταις αἴτιος ἐγένετο τῆς εἰς ἅπαν ἀρετῆς τε καὶ ἡγεμονίας, οὐδὲν ἄμεινον τῶν ἄλλων πάλαι διακειμένοις: οὐ μόνον ὅτι αὐτοῖς νόμους ἔθετο ἀρίστους, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅτι ἄκοντας προυτρέψατο χρῆσθαι αὐτοῖς τρόπῳ τοιῷδε: δύο σκύλακας λαβὼν ἀπὸ τῆς αὐτῆς μητρὸς ἔτρεφε, χωρὶς δὲ ἀλλήλων ἀνομοίοις ἤθεσι, τὸν μὲν κατ' οἶκον ὄψα τε διδοὺς καὶ τὴν ἄλλην λιχνείαν, τὸν δὲ ἐν κυνηγεσίοις θηρᾶν ἀναγκάζων καὶ στιβεύων ἐν ὄρεσιν. ὡς δ' ἑκάτερος αὐτῶν ὅμοιος ἐγένετο τῇ τροφῇ, Σπαρτιάταις ἐκκλησιάζουσι πρὸς τοὺς περιοίκους πολέμου πέρι καὶ ἀμηχανοῦσι παραγαγὼν ἀμφοτέρους εἰς μέσον καὶ σὺν αὐτοῖς δόρκους τε καὶ ζωμοὺς καὶ ὄψα ἐσκευασμένα ἔλεξεν: ἀλλ' ὅτι μὲν, ὦ Σπαρτιᾶται, τοῦ εὖ τε καὶ κακῶς πράττειν οὐκ ἄλλο ἐστὶν αἴτιον πλὴν τὸ ἔθεσι χρῆσθαι φαύλοις ἢ σώφροσι, πάρεστιν ὑμῖν ὁρᾶν. οἵδε γέ τοι, τοὺς σκύλακας δείξας, τῆς αὐτῆς μητρὸς ὄντες, ἐναντίον δὲ ἀλλήλοις τεθραμμένοι, παρ' αὐτὸ τοῦτο ἀνόμοιοι ἐκβεβήκασιν. ὁ μὲν γὰρ θηρᾶν μαθών, ὁ δὲ λιχνεύειν, οὐδὲν ἀντὶ τοῦδε, εἰ παρήκοι, ποιήσειε. καὶ ἅμα προσέταξε τῷ κυνουλκῷ μεθεῖναι ἀμφοτέρους ἐπὶ τὰ ἡτοιμασμένα. τῶν δ' ὁ μὲν κατοικίδιος ἐπὶ τοὔψον ὥρμησεν, ὁ δὲ θηράτωρ ἐπὶ τὸν δόρκον καὶ καταβαλὼν ἐσπάραττε. καὶ Λυκοῦργος πάλιν, ταῦτα, ἔφη, νομίσετε, ὦ Σπαρτιᾶται, εἰς ὑμᾶς τείνειν καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους πάντας ἀνθρώπους. ὁποίοις γὰρ ἂν ἔθεσι καὶ νόμοις χρῆσθε, τοιούτους ἀποβαίνειν ἀνάγκη πρός τε πόνους καὶ τρυφήν: πάντα γὰρ ἀνθρώποις μαθητὰ οἱ θεοὶ ἔδοσαν. ἕπεται δὲ τῷ μὲν πονεῖν ἐθέλειν τὸ ἐλευθέροις εἶναι καὶ τὸ εὖ πράττειν καὶ κρατεῖν πάντων, τῷ δὲ ἡδυπαθεῖν τό τε δουλεύειν καὶ κακοπραγμονεῖν καὶ μηδενὸς ἀξίοις εἶναι. ὁ μὲν τοιαῦτα λέγων προυτρέπετο τοὺς Σπαρτιάτας μεταβαλεῖν τόν τε καθεστῶτα τρόπον τοῦ βίου καὶ βελτίοσι νόμοις ἐθισθῆναι. οἱ δὲ πεισθέντες οὐ τῶν περιοίκων μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάντων Ἑλλήνων διαφανῶς ἄριστοι ἐγένοντο ἡγεμόνες τε συνεχῶς, ἐξότου παρεδέξαντο τοὺς νόμους, ἐπ' ἔτει φ#, καὶ οὐ πολλοῦ χρόνου ἐχώρησαν ἐπὶ μέγα δυνάμεως.
Notes:
See already lambda 823. Much of the present entry is a reworking of material in Xenophon, Lakedaimonion Politeia and Plutarch, Lykourgos; see also n.10 below.
[1] cf. gamma 486.
[2] διαμαστίγωσις , also mentioned by Plutarch, Moralia [Spartan Sayings] 239D.
[3] i.e. Artemis Orthia.
[4] cf. phi 366.
[5] i.e. Thermopylai. For Aristodemos see Herodotus 7.229-231; and omicron 752.
[6] cf. eta 616.
[7] In fact these were separate groups. The 28 elders were permanent members of the council, but the 5 ephors or 'overseers' were elected annually.
[8] A reference to the tripartite nature of the Spartan constitution, with its elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.
[9] cf. alpha 2998, alpha 3336.
[10] Here begins Nicolaus of Damascus FGrH 90 F56.
[11] The free inhabitants of Sparta's dependent city-states.
[12] The use of ἀνόμοιος here, like the uses of related terms elsewhere in the passage, is perhaps an allusion to the term Homoioi, 'Similars', often used to describe the supposedly egalitarian Spartans.
Keywords: athletics; biography; children; chronology; clothing; constitution; economics; ethics; food; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; law; military affairs; meter and music; religion; women; zoology
Translated by: D. Graham J. Shipley on 16 February 2002@13:48:13.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 17 February 2002@07:06:51.
Catharine Roth (minor modifications to translation) on 15 July 2004@19:39:51.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 11 November 2005@08:07:14.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 24 April 2013@03:33:25.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 26 February 2015@01:35:40.
David Whitehead (coding) on 17 May 2016@05:14:55.

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