The Spartan Tradition in European Thought

By Elizabeth Rawson | Go to book overview

4
LACONISM IN THE WEST

OUR PICTURE of fourth-century laconism has concentrated heavily and inevitably on Athens. But there is an outlying part of the Greek world where there were meanwhile interesting developments probably not without influence on later Greek thought-- the Italian and Sicilian colonies.

Laconism was generally, no doubt, strong in places that could claim historical connection with Sparta. At a very early date, Herodotus tells us, emigrants from Lacedaemon helped to settle the island of Thera in the Aegean.1 which itself became the mother- state of Cyrene, the leading Greek city in north Africa; Cyrene made much of its Spartan connections. The island of Melos called itself a Spartan foundation in the fifth century,2 and there were other such claims, as we shall see, perhaps mostly invented as admiration for Sparta and interest in local history developed. But there is no doubt at all that Taras, the Tarentum of the Romans, in the heel of Italy, was founded from Sparta, though probably not by full citizens, in the archaic age. It prospered and became rich, but maintained ties with its mother-city, a fact that doubtless stimulated the wider interest Sparta took from the later fifth century in southern Italy. It was probably after Sparta's triumphant victory over Athens at the latest that several Greek cities here with famous early lawgivers (and probably archaic institutions, surviving in this remote area) began to associate them with Lycurgus. Locri in particular, now a fast friend, produced stories of early links with or even foundation by Sparta, and was perhaps the place of origin of tales circulating in the fourth century that the Locrian legislator Zaleucus took Spartan and Cretan features, as well as Athens' Areopagus, as models,3 or that describe the (wildly misdated) Orphic prophet Onomacritus as a Locrian and the earliest of all legislators, the ultimate master via a Cretan lawgiver of Lycurgus as well as other Italian figures.4

____________________
1
Herodotus iv. 148.
2
Thucydides v. 85.
3
Ephorus, FGH ii a, no. 70, fr. 139.
4
Aristotle, Politics 1274a.

-56-

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The Spartan Tradition in European Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • FOREWORD TO PAPERBACK EDITION v
  • Preface vii
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS viii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Plates x
  • I INTRODUCTION 1
  • 2 - The Growth of Laconism 12
  • 3 - The Fourth Century in Greece 33
  • 4 - Laconism in the West 56
  • 5 - Plato and Aristotle 61
  • 6 - Laconism in the Hellenistic Age 81
  • 7 - Laconism Exported 94
  • 8 - Under the Empire 107
  • 9 - The Middle Ages 116
  • 10 - Sparta Rediviva 130
  • II - Kings and Ephors 158
  • 12 - In Utopia and Among the Savages 170
  • 13 - The Revolutionary Period in England 186
  • 14 - Spartans on the Stage 202
  • France in the Eighteenth Century(i) 220
  • 16 - France in the Eighteenth Century (ii) 242
  • 7 - The French Revolution and Its Aftermath 268
  • 18 - Italy in the Eighteenth Century 301
  • 19 - Sparta in Germany 306
  • 20 - England: from the Whigs to the Liberals 344
  • APPENDIX NOTE ON THE UNITED STATES 368
  • INDEX OF NAMES 371
  • INDEX OF SUBJECTS 387
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