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Hence, when the progress of trade and commerce had occasioned the coining of the precious metals in Greece, no need of them was yet felt at Sparta for the common business of life; they were regarded as a dangerous nowelty, and the possession of them was forbidden. Iron, the native produce of Laconia, prepared so as to be of no use for other purposes, at first in little bars, afterward in a more convenient form, continued to the latest times the only legal currency at Sparta, unless we may believe what some authors relate, that leather was applied to the same use. This restriction has been often ascribed to Lycurgus, but must have been introduced later, if, as seems most probable, the coinage of silver money was unknown to the Greeks for more than a century after him. With regard to gold, indeed, the prohibition would in his time have been superfluous, since it is certain, from two well-attested facts,” that, down to the Persian wars, this metal was so rare as to be quite out of the reach of a private Spartan. It seems, however, that the acquisition of gold or silver money was interdicted only to private Spartans; for the provincials, who were not debarred from commerce, it must have been indispensable; nor can it have been the design of the legislator to impose any such restriction on the state itself: whether the kings were originally exempt from it, or only owed the privilege, which they undoubtedly exercised, of amassing wealth, to subsequent changes in the commonwealth, is a more doubtful question. This prohibition must certainly have eontributed to preserve the simplicity of the ancient manners; but it seems to have been attended with another consequence, which was often very injurious to the public interests. The tendency of human nature to hanker after all that is forbidden renders it probable that this was the secret spring of that venality, of which we find so many remarkable instances in Spartan history. Avarice appears to have been the vice to which the Spartan was most prone; money, for which he had scarcely any use, a bait, which even the purest patriotism could seldom resist. The same spirit which exercised this absoJute control over private property appears in all the regulations by which the citizen was to be trained to the service of the state, and even in those which laid the foundation of the family itself. The character of the Spartan system is nowhere more conspicuous than in its mode of determining the relations of the sexes. The treatment of the women may serve to illustrate the manner in which old Hellenic usages were here modified by the peculiar design of the legislator. The freedom they enjoyed, and the def. erence paid to them, which were censured as excessive in later ages, when they formed a contrast to the custom then prevalent in Greece, were vestiges of remote antiquity, and conformable to the habits described in the Homeric poems. But it was more especially the liberty allowed to the young unmarried women that distinguished the Spartan institutions. Their education was conducted with a view not so much
- The Spartans send to Lydia for a small quantity; Hie- to Architeles the Corinthian, the only man in Greece who had amassed a considerable stock. Theopompus in Athen., v., p. 232.
to the discharge of household duties as to the citizens which they were to give to the commonwealth. They were to be the mothers of a robust race, and hence were early subjected to the same athletic exercises as the harder sex; and it even seems to have been the legislator's intention that they should be looked upon only in this light, and should excite no affection directed to any other object. It was, perhaps, not without design, though probably with one very different from that which Plutarch supposes, that their persons were frequently exposed in public processions and dances in a manner which, to modern seelings, would betoken the last stage of public licentiousness.” Yet it is certain that, in this respect, the Spartan morals were at least as pure as those of any ancient, perhaps of any modern people. These spectacles, probably a relic of a primitive usage, and connected with the rites of religion, were far from lowering the Spartan virgin in the esteem of the other sex; and the praise or blame which, on such occasions, she was permitted to dispense to the by-standers, was found one of the most efficacious means of quickening the emulation of the youths. A Spartan marriage retained the form which had, no doubt, been given to the ceremony in the Dorian Highlands, and which to this day prevails among the Circassian tribes. The bride was considered as a prize of courage and address, and was always supposed to be carried off from the parental roof by force or stratagem. The Spartan matrons appeared in public much more rarely than before marriage; and, though the pleasures of domestic society were little valued at Sparta, where it was even disreputable for the young husband to be seen in company with his wife, they were treated with a respect, and exercised an influence which seemed to the other Greeks extravagant and pernicious; but it became such only, if at all, after the whole nation had degenerated. In the better times, they alone among the Greek women show a dignity of character which makes them worthy rivals of the Roman matrons. Adultery was long unknown at Sparta; yet so little sanctity was attached to the nuptial compact, that it was sacrificed without scruple, and in a manner which shocks our notions of decency, to maxims of state policy or private expedience.t From his birth every Spartan belonged to the state, which decided, as we have seen, whether he was likely to prove a useful member of the community, and extinguished the life of the sickly or deformed infant. To the age of seven, however, the care of the child was delegated to its natural guardians, yet not so as to be left wholly to their discretion, but subject to certain established rules of treatment, which guarded against every mischievous indulgence of parental tenderness. At the end of seven years began a long course of public discipline, which grew constantly more and more severe as the boy approached towards manhood. The education of the young was in some degree the business of all the elder citizens; for there was none who did not contribute to it, if not by his active interference, at least by his presence and inspection. But it was placed under the especial superintendence of an officer" selected from the men of most approved worth; and he, again, chose a number of youths, just past the age of twenty, and who most eminently united courage with discretion, to exercise a more immediate command over the classest into which the boys were divided. The leader of each class directed the sports and tasks of his young troop, and punished their offences with military rigour, but was himself responsible to his elders for the mode in which he discharged his office. The Spartan education was simple in its objects: it was not the result of any general view of human nature, or of any attempt to unfold its various capacities; it aimed at training men who were to live in the midst of difficulty and danger, and who could only be safe themselves while they held rule over others. The citizen was to be always ready for the defence of himself and his country, at home and abroad; and he was, therefore, to be equally fitted to command and to obey. His body, his mind, and his character were formed for this purpose, and for no other; and hence the Spartan system, making directly for its main end, and rejecting all that was foreign to it, attained, within its own sphere, to a perfection which it is impossible not to admire. The young Spartan was perhaps unable either to read or write; he scarcely possessed the elements of any of the arts or sciences by which society is enriched or adorned; but he could run, leap, wrestle, hurl the disc or the javelin, and wield every other weapon, with a vigour, agility, and grace which were nowhere surpassed. These, however, were accomplishments to be learned in every Greek palaestra: he might find many rivals in all that he could do; but few could approach him in the firmness with which he was taught to suffer. From the tender age at which he left his mother's lap for the public schools, his life was one continued trial of patience. Coarse and scanty fare, and this occasionally withheld; a light dress, without any change in the depth of winter; a bed of reeds, which he himself gathered from the Eurotas; blows exchanged with his comrades; stripes inflicted by his governors, more by way of exercise than of punishment, inured him to every form of pain and hardship. One test of this passive fortitude was very celebrated among the ancients. In early times, probably before the Dorian conquest, human victims appear to have been ofsered in Laconia to an image of Artemis, which Orestes was believed to have brought with him from Scythia. Lycurgus, it is said, abolished this bloody rite, but substituted for it a contest little less ferocious, in which the most generous youths, standing on the altar, presented themselves to the lash, and were sometimes seen to expire under it without a groan. Another usage, not less famous, served to train the Spartan boys at once to suffering and to action. They were at times compelled, either by the express command of their leader or by the cravings of hun
* Yet it seems necessary to distinguish between the private exercises, in which they laid aside all covering, and the public exhibitions, in which they wore the species of half-open tunic (the axigro; xtrov), which procured for them the epithet of provopopo.
+ Plut., Lyc., 15. "See also some remarks of Mr. Lewis in the Philological Museum, vol. ii., p. 70, note 43.
t It was exposed in a glen of Taygetus, hence called the "Amogirat. e twelve tables contained a similar enact
ment. Cic., De Leg., iii., 8.
ger, to forage in the fields or houses which they might contrive to enter by stealth. The ingenious and successful pilferer gained applause with his booty: one who was detected was made to smart, not for the attempt, but for the failure. It seems a gross, though not an uncommon mistake, to treat this practice as a violation of property and an encouragement to theft; it was a preparation, not more remarkable than many others, for the hardships and shifts of a military life. The hateful cryptia was apparently a similar institution, but made subservient to a political end. The Muses were appropriately honoured at Sparta with a sacrifice on the eve of a battle, and the union of the spear and the lyre was a favourite theme with the Laconian poets, and those who sang of Spartan customs. Though bred in the discipline of the camp, the young Spartan, like the hero of the Iliad, was not a stranger to music and poetry. He was taught to sing, and to play on the flute and the lyre : but the strains with which his memory was stored, and to which his voice was formed, were either sacred hymns, or breathed a martial spirit; and it was because they cherished such sentiments that the Homeric lays, if not introduced by Lycurgus, were early welcomed at Sparta; for the same reason Tyrtaeus was held in honour, while Archilochus, the delight of Greece, was banished, because he had not been ashamed to record his owninglorious flight from a field of battle.* As these musical exercises were designed to cultivate, not so much an intellectual as a moral taste, so it was probably less for the sake of sharpening their ingenuity than of promoting presence of mind and promptness of decision, that the boys were led into the habit of answering all questions proposed to them with a ready, pointed, sententious brevity, which was a proverbial characteristic of Spartan conversation. But the lessons which were most studiously inculcated—more, indeed, by example than by precept—were those of modesty, obedience, and reverence for age and rank; for these were the qualities on which, above all others, the stability of the commonwealth reposed. The gait and look of the Spartan youths, as they passed along the streets, observed Xenophon, breathed modesty and reserve. In the presence of their elders they were bashful as virgins and silent as statues, save when a question was put to them. It was, as Plutarch supposes, to signify the importance of these virtues that the Temple of Fear was erected near the mansion-house of the ephors.t. In truth, the respect for the laws, which rendered the Spartan averse to innovation at home, was little more than another form of that awe with which his early habits inspired him for the magistrates and the aged. With this feeling was intimately connected that quick and deep sense of shame, which shrank from dishonour as the most dreadful of evils, and enabled him to meet death so calmly, when he saw in it the will of his country. The interval between the age of twenty and thirty was looked upon as a stage of transition from boyhood to manhood. During this period the young Spartan was released, indeed, from the discipline of the classes, but he was not yet permitted to appear among the men in the assembly, and was, perhaps, chiefly employed in all military service, which might be required within the frontier. But his education could scarcely be said to have ceased even after he had reached his full maturity, and had entered on the duties of a husband and a father. The life of the Spartan, in time of peace, was one of leisure, for this was essential to the dignity of a freeman; but it was not one of ease and indolence, for this would have unfitted him for the duties of a citizen and a warrior. His time, little occupied by domestic cares when not engaged by any public service, was principally divided between the exercises of the palaestra and the toils of the chase. From these he rested at the public meals. Of this institution, which Sparta, in common with Crete, retained to the latest times, we need here only speak to point out one or two features which were peculiar to the Spartan usage. At Sparta the entertainment was provided at the expense, not of the state, but of those who shared it. The head of each family, as far as his means reached, contributed for all its members; but the citizen who was reduced to indigence lost his place at the public board. The guests were divided into companies, generally of fifteen persons, who filled up vacancies by ballot, in which unanimous consent was required for every election. No member, not even the kings, was permitted to stay away, except on some extraor. dinary occasion, as of a sacrifice or a lengthened chase, when he was expected to send a present to the table: such contributions frequently varied the frugal repast, which was constantly enlivened by sallies of tempered mirth and friendly pleasantry.” The sixtieth year closed the military age. The period which ensued was one of peaceful repose, yet not of monotonous inaction: it was cheered by the natural reward of an honourable career, by respect, and precedence, and authority: it found a regular and gentle employment, if not in the affairs of the state, in the superintendence and direction of the young. When disabled from more active recreations, the old man could still enjoy the society of his equals in the lesche, a place dedicated at Sparta, as in most Greek cities, to meetings for public conversation, where he might beguile the evening of his life with recollections of his well-spent youth. The ancient authors who most admired the Spartan institutions, condemned their exclusively warlike tendency; and it can scarcely be denied that the life of a Spartan was a continual preparation for war, though undoubtedly it was something more. It is, perhaps, only in this sense that the military system of Sparta can be properly ascribed to Lycurgus, though he is said to have introduced several technical inprovements. It has been more generally be: lieved that he was the author of a maxim of policy which is said to have been sanctioned by one of his oracular ordinances, and which tended to restrain the martial ardour of his countrymen within the bounds of prudent moderation. It forbade them to make frequent ex
* Plut., inst. Lac, 33. Valerius Maximus twi., 3, E. 1). assigns a different and much less probable motive, but refers the expulsion, which, according to Plutarch, befell the poet himself, to his works. t Cleom-, 9.
peditions against the same enemy: a precaution, it is supposed, against the danger of training a weak adversary, by repeated attacks, into a bold and skilful one. Plutarch thinks that Sparta's first great reverse was owed to the violation of this rule. But it is difficult to name any period of history during which it appears to have been observed. It must, however, be admitted, that caution was a prominent quality in the Spartan character, and, combined with the consciousness of superiority, it may sometimes have supplied the place of humanity in softening the ferocity of warfare. A wholesome superstition, which respected certain religious festivals as sacred armistices, contributed to the same end. But the martial spirit of the Spartan institutions is evinced, not only by the whole system of education, but still more strongly by the care taken to render war as attractive as possible. As the city, in many respects, resembled a camp, so the life of the camp was studiously freed from many of the hardships and restraints imposed on that of the city. War was the element in which the Spartan seems to have breathed most freely, and to have enjoyed the fullest consciousness of his existence. He dressed his hair and crowned himself for a battle as others for a feast; and the mood in which he advanced to the mortal struggle was no less calm and cheerful than that in which he entered the lists for a prize at the public games. This spirit, in itself almost invincible, was seconded by a system of tactics which Xenophon praises for an admirable simplicity in the midst of seeming intricacy, and which he describes with a minuteness which we do not venture to imitate. Its principles were probably derived from an antiquity even more remote than the conquest of Peloponnesus, and perhaps contributed mainly to that event; but it was undoubtedly perfected o: experience of succeeding generations. e subjoin some details on the organization of the Spartan army in a note,” and shall here content ourselves with a few general remarks. The strength of the Spartan army lay in its heavy-armed infantry, and no other kind of service was thought equally worthy of the free warrior, because none called forth courage and discipline in the same degree. Hence little value was set on the cavalry; and, though in the Peloponnesian war it was found necessary to pay greater attention to it, it never acquired any great efficacy or reputation. The name of horsemen was, indeed, a title of honour borne by a band of 300 picked youths, chosen by three officers appointed for that purpose by the ephors, who served in the field as the king's body-guard; but, notwithstanding the title, they sought on foot, and, if they were mounted, used their horses only on a march, or in executing the king's commissions.# On the same principle, the Spartan shrank from the assault of fortified places, in which, as Lycurgus was reported to have ob: served, a brave man might fall by the hand of
bigher class more firmly together. least, appears to have been the aim and tendency of the Spartan institutions, whatever may be thought as to their origin and author; and we shall therefore follow this order in proceeding to describe their principal features. According to one of the accounts transmitted to us by Plutarch, Lycurgus divided the whole of Laconia into 39,000 parcels, of which 9000 were assigned to as many Spartan families, 30,000 to their free subjects. Plutarch seems to have supposed that these parcels were all equal, so that the Spartan had no advantage over the Laconian, any more than over his fellow-citizens; for he relates that Lycurgus, having once returned from abroad, towards the end of harvest, gazed with delight on the uniform aspect of the corn-fields, and observed that all Laconia looked like a heritage newly shared among many brothers. It must, however, be remembered, in the first place, that in the time of Lycurgus several districts of Laconia were probably independent of Sparta; and next, that, even if this had been otherwise, and with regard to the part then subject to the conquerors, the nature of the ground must have rendered a nicely equal partition for such an age and people utterly impracticable. Nor does it appear what motive could have induced the legislator to aim at establishing such an equality among the Laconians, in whose case the physical difficulty would be the greatest. On the other hand, we find that it was a question among the ancients whether the 9000 Spartan parcels were all contained in Laconia itself, or included those which were acquired after the age of Lycurgus in Messenia. Plutarch mentions two opinions on this subject. According to one, 6000 parcels were assigned by Lycurgus himself, and 3000 were added by King Polydorus at the end of the first Messenian war; according to the other, the original number, 4500, was doubled by Polydorus. The latter opinion seems to be strongly confirmed by the plan of the unfortunate Agis, who proposed to divide the Spartan territory into 4500 allotments, at the same time that he assigned 15,000 to the Laconian provincials. And Aristotle, who wrote after Messenia had been wrested from the dominion of Sparta, speaking of the Spartan land in Laconia, appears to say that it is capable of maintaining 3000 infantry and 1500 horsemen;" adding that the Spartans were reported to have once amounted to 10,000. Indeed, if there was any foundation for the assertion of Isocrates, that they originally numbered only 2000, it would be scarcely credible that they should by any means have attained to much more than twice that number in the days of Lycurgus: the causes to which their subsequent increase may have been due will be hereafter explained. And as Plutarch's statement seems to require correction in this respect, so it may be suspected that it greatly exaggerates the amount of the Laconian free population. The proportion which it bore to that of Sparta, in the time of Lycurgus, was probably nearly the same as that which Agis endeavoured to restore; otherwise an inexplicable decrease must have taken place before the Persian war, when, on
Such, at the largest calculation, the military force of the
Laconians did not exceed 16,000 men.” On this supposition, Plutarch would have been mistaken only as to the number of the allotments made by Lycurgus, but would be correct as to their proportion—15,000 to 4500. On another very important point, however, his description suggests a totally erroneous notion; for it supposes, as has been observed, that the 39,000 parcels were all equal, at least in their average dimensions. This was far from being the case. Aristotle appears to intimate that the largest part of Laconia was occupied by the Spartanst Their share was undoubtedly, as Isocrates expressly remarks, the most sertile and valuable;f and, to judge from the population which it supported, it cannot have been much inferior to the rest in extent. At Plataea, each Spartan was attended by seven Helots; and, on the lowest computation grounded on this statement, the Helots must at that time have been to the free Laconians nearly as three to one. But the Helots are everywhere described as slaves, not of the Laconians, but of the Spartans; so that, even if the greater part belonged to Messenia, those of Laconia must have required little less than half the country for the maintenance of themselves and their masters. The whole of the land, however, was not in private hands; the state remained in possession of a considerable domain, including, perhaps, most of the mines and quarries, and the woody mountain tracts, which afforded the citizens the exercise of the chase; another portion was withdrawn, in scattered parcels, from private uses for the service of the numerous temples. Though what has been said shows that it is scarcely possible to ascertain the exact proportion in which the Lacedaemonian territory was distributed in the days of Lycurgus, it is highly probable that the tendency of his agrarian regulations—of those, at least, which related to the Spartans—was towards a general equality of landed property. But it is not clear that for this purpose he was obliged to remove all ancient landmarks, and to make an entirely new partition: he may have sound it sufficient to compel the wealthy to resign a part of their possessions, that perhaps to which they had no title but an unauthorized occupation. If we suppose the inequality of property among the Spartans to have arisen chiefly from acts of usurpation, by which the leading men had seized lands of the conquered Achaeans, which, if taken from their owners, belonged of right to the state, their resumption might afford the means at once of correcting an evil which disturbed the intermal tranquillity of Sparta, and of redressing a wrong which provoked discontent among her subjects. The kings, we are informed, had domains in the districts of several provincial towns; similar acquisitions may have been made by many private Spartans before the time of Lycurgus; and his partition, so far as it regarded the subject Laconians, may have consisted chiefly in the restoration and distribution of such lands. When, from the division of the territory, we
proceed to inquire into the condition of its inhabitants, we find three classes, which must be separately considered: the Dorians of Sparta; their serfs, the Helots; and the people of the provincial districts. These last, who stand most apart from the rest, will most fitly come first under our notice. They were a mixed race, composed partly of the conquered Achaeans, partly of strangers who had either accompanied the conquerors in their expedition, or had been invited by them to supply the place of the old inhabitants. It is possible that there may have been also some Dorians among them, as we learn that the town of Boeae was founded by a chief of the Heracleid race; and that, not long after the time of Lycurgus, Geronthrae, evacuated by the Achaeans, was peopled by a colony sent from Sparta.” But as the whole body of the invaders was barely strong enough to effect the conquest, the numbers thus detached from it must have been extremely small, even when the Spartan franchise was less valuable than it became after the subjugation of Messenia. Isocrates represents the Dorians as pursuing the policy of weakening the conquered Achaeans by dispersing them over a great number of miserable hamlets, which they dignified with the name of cities, and which lay in the i.east productive part of the territory. This is, perhaps, not a mere fiction of the rhetorician; though, as the description of a uniform system, it undoubtedly distorts, or greatly exaggerates the truth, since the population of Boeae, for instance, is said to have been collected from three more ancient towns. Still, what Isocrates mentions may sometimes have happened, and may serve to account for the extraordinary number of the Laconian cities, as they were called, which are said to have amounted to a hundred, and to have occasioned the yearly sacrifice of a hecatomb; for it does not seem necessary to suppose that this number included those of Messenia. It is also credible enough that Sparta always viewed the subject towns with jealousy, and would never have permitted them to attain a very high degree of strength or opuHence. There is, no doubt, much rhetorical exaggeration in the description of the territory assigned to the conquered people, as seems clear from the fact that it included a large part of the crown lands; but still it is unquestionable that the Spartans occupied the best and fairest portion.
The provincial land was tributary to the state; but this tribute was perhaps regarded less as a source of revenue than as an acknowledgment of sovereignty. The provincials were subjects; they shared none of the political privsloes of the Sportans; their municipal government was under the control of Spartan officers; and yet they bore the heaviest share of the 1 blic burdens, and were liable to be torn from 1 your fields and hearth", to shed their blood in quartel, which only interested the pride or amt; tıon of Sparta. These were their principal o-revances; but in other respects, and comrared with the most numerous class of the population, they were highly favoured subjects, an.I. on the whole, they might perhaps see little to envy in the condition of the Spartans themselves. Their political dependance was com
* Paus., iii., 22. Vol. 1.-R
pensated by their exemption from many irksome restraints and inflictions, which habit only could render tolerable, to which the ruling caste were forced to submit. If they were compelled to bestow their labour on an ungrateful part of the soil, they, on the other hand, enjoyed undivided possession of the trade and manufactures of the country. It is true that the value of this advantage was very much diminished by the peculiar character of the Spartan institutions, which banished luxury and its ministering arts from the capital, and discouraged, if it did not wholly prevent, all influx of strangers; but though the simplicity of the Spartan mode of life, and the jealous policy of the government, tended to check the industry of the artificer, it must have found very profitable employment in the public buildings and festivals which displayed the piety and magnificence of the state: for Sparta yielded to no Grecian city in her zeal for religion, and forgot her parsimony in the service of the gods. Hence the higher as well as the subordinate arts were cultivated by the provincials, though they would have been thought all alike degrading to a Spartan; and Laconia contributed several celebrated names to the list of Grecian artists. We should be led to form a still higher estimate of the prosperity of this class, and of the respect with which it was viewed, if we might believe that it had sent forth several successful competitors to the Olympic games. But the instances which at first sight appear to attest this fact are none of them altogether free from ambiguity. There are some other interesting points connected with this subject, on which at present we cannot decide with any greater certainty. The division of Laconia into six districts, which Ephorus supposed to have taken place immediately after the conquest, seems at least to imply that the province was once distributed into cantons, which were governed by Spartan magistrates; but we know neither the precise nature of this institution, nor how long it lasted. The example of Cythera, where we find a Spartan officer under a peculiar name (Cytherodices), affords no ground for any conclusion as to the administration of Laconia. We may infer from the difference of armour among the provincials engaged at the battle of Plataea, where each of their menat-arms was accompanied by a light-armed soldier, that there was a corresponding distinction of ranks among them, by which one class, included under the general name of Laconians, was perhaps no less widely parted from another than the whole body was from the Spartans. Whether, however, this was a difference of birth or of occupations, a casual or a permanent one, we have no means of ascertaining. In general, the provincials seem to have had little to complain of but the want of political independence; and if they were, in great part, strangers who had settled in the country with the permission of the Dorians, this could not be considered as a wrong or a hardship. Very different was the condition of the Helots, whose name, according to every derivation of it, recalled the loss of personal liberty as the origin and the essential character of their state. The ancients looked upon them, as Achaeans, who, in consequence of their obstinate resistance,