Lycurgus

Life

  • Law-giver from Sparta
    • Traveled a lot before going back to Sparta and applying his reforms
  • Lived in the 8th century BC

Reforms

His reforms promoted the three Spartan virtues:

    1. Equality
    1. Military fitness
    1. Austerity

His reforms were accepted shortly after the Messenian wars, probably because of the danger of further rebellions.

The Spartan reforms were very severe. Herodotus says that Lycurgus changed “all the customs,” that he created the military organization, and instituted the ephorate and the council of elders. To him also are attributed the foundation of the citizen assembly, the prohibition of gold and silver currency, the partition of the land into equal lots, and, in general, the characteristic Spartan training.

Various beliefs were held as to the source from which Lycurgus derived his ideas of reform. Herodotus found the tradition current among the Spartans that they were suggested to Lycurgus by the similar Cretan institutions, but even in the 5th century there was a rival theory that he derived them from the Delphic oracle. These two versions are united by Ephorus, who argued that, though Lycurgus had really derived his system from Crete, yet to give it a religious sanction he had persuaded the Delphic priestess to express his views in oracular form.