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David M. Lewis

The helots were the slaves of the Spartans. Distributed in family groups across the landholdings of Spartan citizens in Laconia and Messenia, helots performed the labour that was the bedrock on which Spartiate leisure and wealth rested. Since they outnumbered the Spartiate class, keeping the helots in line was a significant challenge, and scholars are divided over the degree of tension that marked helot-Spartiate relations and the intensity of oppression inflicted upon the former by the latter. Debates exist over many other aspects of helotage, e.g., the krypteia, the alleged massacre of 2,000 helots, the socio-economic organization of helotage, the demography of the helot population, helot rebellion, and the ancient tradition of comparing the helots to other servile groups (e.g., the penestai of Thessaly, the Mariandynoi of Heraclea Pontica).Crucial to the operation of the Spartan sociopolitical system, the exploitation of the helots was, in Plato’s view (Leg.


Massimo Nafissi

Lycurgus was the legendary founder of Sparta’s political order and of many of its social institutions. His legend initially developed as part of the transformation that gave Sparta its distinctive features during the Archaic period. The role that Spartan tradition attributed to Lycurgus ended up subsuming and eventually cancelling any memory of this process, and his role in the establishment of the city’s laws and customs, along with Apollo’s blessing, rendered them more legitimate and binding. As it was Lycurgus’s laws that granted Sparta her distinctive greatness, the lawgiver continued to be an influential source of civic identity throughout antiquity, and in Sparta, his legend continued to be revived through a process known as invention of tradition. Throughout the Greek world, Lycurgus and his legislation were the object of deep historical, political and ethical-philosophical interest, usually admired or idealised, but occasionally viewed more critically.

Scholarly views concerning ancient evidence relating to Lycurgus vary.


Ben Akrigg

The demography of Greece is a very difficult subject to investigate because of the shortage of relevant statistical data. Ancient authors did not write any books about demography and give hardly any figures for population sizes, and none at all for vital rates. Owing to the emphasis on war in ancient historiography, most ancient demographic estimates relate to the size of military forces or to the manpower available for military purposes—i.e., to adult males only. Total population sizes must be extrapolated from such information because women, children, and slaves were usually not enumerated at all. Moreover, literary authors were prone to exaggeration—with respect to the size of Persian armies, for example—although Thucydides (2) was a notable exception to this rule. Even in Classical Athens, for which the sources are relatively abundant, it seems unlikely that there was a central register of hoplites in addition to the deme registers. In general, Greek states did not have taxes payable by all inhabitants that would have required the maintenance of detailed records for financial purposes, and censuses of citizens were rare in the ancient Greek world. It is certain, however, that both mortality and fertility in ancient Greece were high by the standards of modern developed countries. Human mobility, whether voluntary or involuntary, was also an important factor in the population history of individual cities.


James Roy

Lydiadas, son of Eudamus, of Megalopolis (d. 227bce). Reputedly commanded troops against Sparta (251bce) (but see Pretzler), later (c.244bce) became tyrant of Megalopolis. Under threat from the Achaean Confederacy he abdicated, reintroduced the democratic constitution, and united Megalopolis with the confederacy (235bce), which gave protection against Sparta. He was elected stratēgos (general and chief magistrate) of the confederacy, in rivalry to Aratus, in 234/233, 232/231, and 230/229, and began a tradition of Megalopolitan leadership which was later continued by Philopoemen, Lycortas, and Polybius. As hipparch (cavalry commander) in 227bce, while Aratus was stratēgos, Lydiadas (according to Aratus’s account) disobeyed Aratus’s orders in the battle at Ladoceia against Cleomenes II of Sparta and was killed. Pausanias (8.27.15) gives a revisited, partisan account of a heroic death defending Megalopolis unsuccessfully against Cleomenes in 223. While the historian Polybius, himself Megalopolitan and pro-Achaean, chooses to say very little about Lydiadas, inscriptions show that Megalopolis voted honours not only for Lydiadas but also for his father, his son Aristopamon, and his grandson Lydiadas.



Antonis Kotsonas

Lyktos (or Lyttos, from the Classical period on) is an ancient city on the island of Crete. It is located on the central part of the island, a short distance to the east of the modern town of Kastelli Pediadas and close to the village of Xydas (also spelled Xidas). The ancient site occupies a double acropolis which is part of the northwest foothills of the Lasithi mountains, and is crowned by two modern chapels. The acropolis of Lyktos rises to an elevation of over 600 m (2,000 ft) and overlooks the fertile plain of Pediada. The name Lyktos may refer to the highland location of the site (Steph. Byz., s.v. Λύκτος).The history and culture of Lyktos is amply documented in ancient literature and epigraphy (I.Cret. I xviii), to a degree which is unusual for any Cretan city. Indeed, Lyktos has produced the second largest epigraphic record from anywhere on Crete (after .


Those who owned property in the Greek world enjoyed all the basic rights and duties recognized in all legal systems. They had the right to security against arbitrary confiscation and theft, the right to enjoy the fruits, the right to alienate, the right to manage, and the right to pass on their property to their heirs. Their property could also be seized by the state as a penalty or to pay for fines or by private lenders in satisfaction of debts or other obligations. Property could be owned by private individuals, by private groups, by the state or by subdivisions of the state. In certain cases women had the right to own property, but their rights might be restricted by law. Most Greek communities only allowed citizens to own land unless they obtained permission to acquire land from the Assembly.

Secure property rights are crucial for economic prosperity.1 If owners of land cannot rest assured that their control over their property will not be threatened, they will have no incentive to build or make improvements. If they fear that someone may take their land at any moment, there will be no reason to invest in crops such as olives that will not produce immediate returns. If their title to the land is not secure, lenders will not be willing to accept the farm as security for a loan. If the threat of arbitrary confiscation hangs over owners, it becomes impossible to make any plans for the future. Finally, if the state does not protect the rights of owners, it is very difficult for individuals to buy and sell movable and immovable property in ways that lead to a better allocation of resources.


Sandra Boehringer

Sexual and amorous relationships between females constitute, as a heuristic category, an illuminating field of research for the construction of sexual categories in antiquity, as well as for the prevailing gender system of the time. In Greece and Rome, sexuality did not have the identity function that we attribute to it today: in these societies “before sexuality,” the category of female homosexuality, like those of heterosexuality or homosexuality in general, did not exist per se. Yet we have access to over forty documents (containing both substantial treatments and brief mentions), along with the terms hetairistria and tribas, associated with this semantic field.In Archaic Greece, the privileged expression of erotic desire between women can be found without ambiguity in the verses of Alcman and Sappho. In this community context, the force of eros is celebrated, and the joys and pains generated by its power are sung without differentiation based on gender categories. In Classical and Hellenistic Greece, the sources become rarer: female homosexuality disappears from our evidence for the possible configurations of eros, with the notable exception of Plato’s account (Symposium, Laws).


Christopher J. Tuplin

Xenophon (c. 430–c. 353 bce) came from a wealthy Athenian background and in his youth associated with Socrates. Participation in Cyrus’s unsuccessful rebellion in 401 and mercenary service with Spartan armies in Anatolia in 399–394 bce was followed by exile and prolonged residence near Olympia. Although there was a reconciliation with the Athenian state after 371, he may never have returned to live there permanently. In exile Xenophon became a writer, producing historical narratives, Socratic literature, technical treatises, an encomium of Agesilaus, a dialogue on tyranny, an analysis of Spartan success and failure, and a pamphlet on Athenian political economy. Many of these are the earliest (surviving) examples of particular genres or unusual variants on existing genres. Common to this extraordinarily diverse range of works are a didactic inclination, an intimate relationship with the author’s personal experiences combined with a variable authorial persona, use of the past as a way of talking about the present, a belief that purely practical pursuits have a moral component because they have social implications, and a style of exposition designed for engaged and informed readers who will ask questions of an apparently straightforward text while being prepared to be unsettled or wryly amused by the answers. The topic most persistently addressed by Xenophon’s oeuvre is leadership, broadly conceived—a task that demands special personal qualities, requires persistent careful effort, and, thanks to the unpredictability of events and of human behaviour, can rarely be pursued with prolonged and continuous success.