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2022-01-02 - lycurgus
lycurgus was an ancient spartan lawmaker. he ended up as a temporary ruler until his nephew grew up. people thought he would steal the throne from the young child though, so he left sparta until his nephew was an adult. while gone, lycurgus travelled around greece, crete, and possibly egypt and asia too. he learned of many cultures during his travels, which influenced the spartan society he helped shape later in life.
lycurgus eventually returned to sparta, not as a ruler, but as a lawmaker. he convinced his nephew, the king, that sparta needed to completely redo their society. there were many changes including:
- adding groups to check the power of the king
- changing the currency to a metal other greek cities didn't use
- forcing all citizens to eat meals together
- dividing all land equally between all the people
- encouraging children to steal
i'm sure lycurgus had many reasons for his laws. here are some of those reasons:
- eliminate wealth
- creating strong people
- make sparta self reliant
- keep sparta safe from external bad influences
- create a unified society
the laws lycurgus created were memorized instead of written down, forcing citizens to know the laws by heart. the culture lycurgus created also emphasized pragmatism. artisans could spend their time innovating useful items like cups instead of useless pieces of art.
once he felt confident with his new laws, lycurgus left sparta once more making the people and rulers of sparta promise not to change any of his laws until he came back. he never came back though, so the spartans kept his laws for long after lycurgus died.
yeah, that's lycurgus for you. what a great guy. most of this information was taken from an english translation of plutarch's parallel lives.