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____________________