The Constitution of the Lacedaemonians: Life in Sparta

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History 102
Xenophon, the author of the document, The Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, was born in 434 BC and became a middle-class Athenian but was later exiled to Spartan land (pg. 81). This document was written in order to keep record of the way life was lived back in Sparta where he fulfilled his exile. The law maker, Lycurgus, was a very creative and intuitive man but additionally he was fair and just. Lycurgus made laws that would honestly benefit everyone in Sparta to the fullest extent and differ from the old ways of the other Greeks. The new ways of Sparta stunned the other Greeks by how different and irregular they were. I believe that Xenophon too was fascinated by the laws he now had to abide by and wrote it all down so that others could analyze it as well. In the document Xenophon writes, “I not only admire [Lycurgus], but consider to have been in the fullest sense a wise man” (pg 82). Xenophon was so fond of Lycurgus and his way of ruling that wanted to save these rules to be studied forever and wrote them down. This can be considered one of the first real constitutions written down in history which gives it such great significance along with the fact that it is a direct account from that time period originally written in a language we code decode. This document was written for any politically involved or scholarly person who wanted to study the ways of the Spartans. Xenophon believed that Lycurgus was as most genius law maker and thought that if he shared his ways maybe everyone else could be as good as Sparta. Lycurgus’ laws were “contrary to those of most governments” (pg 82) which is why it needed to be written down and spread around. I strongly feel that when Xenophon was exiled he tried to seek out the flaws in the governmental system that had done wrong and subconsciously abandoned all of the beliefs that the old government he used to follow cherished. In order to show their flaws, Xenophon wanted to compare both ways of life. As shown in The Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, Xenophon compares the jurisdiction between the overall Greek and the more sophisticated Spartans. For example, when he writes about the boys as objects of affection, he states that among the other Greeks such as the Boeotians and Eleians, a man and a boy may enter a union and attempt to gain favor of the young boys however, it is sometimes prohibited for them to converse. As learned in lecture, in ancient Greece, during Xenophon’s time, it wasn’t unusual for older men to be attracted to the younger Greek boys however it was not something someone would share in the open. It was referred to in another Greek writing, The Birds by Aristophanes, the two main characters imagine a land where it would be rude for a family friend not to grope another man’s son. This shows just how prevalent the phenomenon of these relations between older and younger men had become in Xenophon’s home. Lycurgus however did not agree that it should have to be so hidden and stated that an older man liked a boy because of his personality and not only due to lust and physical attraction, that it was an excellent thing and should be celebrated (pg 85). Xenophon definitely wrote to inform the general Greek population of this new way of life to those who thus far did not follow and believe in the ways that Lycurgus did. This is probably one of his greatest works not only because it is our best explanation of Spartans rules and community life, but also because it stirred up the governments around Sparta. They tried to get rid of him through exile because of his wrongdoings while he exploits their faulty governmental regulations through his writing which spread much further. Using evidence from the document, it is obvious that Xenophon was not only a true follower of Lycurgus but is a strong ancient day liberalist. Xenophon believed in all of the rules Lycurgus set up which were, at the time, contrary to popular beliefs of those in the other Greek...
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