The Spartan Tradition in European Thought

By Elizabeth Rawson | Go to book overview

7 LACONISM EXPORTED

IT IS time to look beyond the confines of the Greek world. The first country to arrest our attention is Egypt, the history of whose supposed connections with Sparta forms a pretty climax. Herodotus points out one or two features--respect for age, the hereditary nature of certain callings--common to Sparta and that country that appeared so remarkable to the Greeks.1 Later we find Isocrates declaring that the Lacedaemonians have copied from Egypt their common meals, physical training, exclusive dedication to arms, restriction on travel, and supreme devotion to the state; in this not very serious panegyric of Egypt he even claims to find the copy inferior to the model.2 Next Ephorus explicitly states that Lycurgus paid her a visit (as Solon had genuinely done);3 while at the end of the fourth century Hecataeus of Abdera, in a philosophic romance about Egypt, pretended that this visit like those of other famous Greeks was attested by the priestly documents there.4

Only after Alexander, however, was it possible to send Lycurgus off on a Grand Tour ultimately including not only study with Indian gymnosophists but trips to Libya and Spain.5 We can discover some sort of background for even these last. In Libya the oracle of Ammon had been an object of Spartan reverence for some time, and the Dorian colony at Cyrene had, according to Herodotus, a tenuous original connection, which later historians much improved, and certainly a good deal of practical contact with Sparta; she stuck obstinately to Dorian dialect and cults, and the ephors found here as elsewhere may have been copied from Sparta. As for Spain, let us remember that foreign countries had

____________________
1
Herodotus ii. 80; vi. 60.
2
Isocrates, Busiris17-19.
3
Ephorus, fr. 149 ( FGH ii b, no. 70).
4
Hecataeus, fr. 96 ( FGH iii a, no. 264).
5
Aristocrates the Spartiate, fr. 2 ( FGH iii b, no. 591; late Hellenistic or Roman date?).

-94-

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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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