Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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With respect to the form of government, which Ephorus has described at large, it will be sufficient to give a cur- sory account of the principal parts. The law-giver, says Ephorus, seems to lay, as the foundation of his constitution, the greatest good that states can enjoy, namely, liberty; for it is this alone which makes the property of every kind which a man possesses his own; in a state of slavery it belongs to the governor, and not to the governed. The liberty also which men enjoy must be guarded. Unanimity ensues, when the dissensions that arise from covetousness and luxury [Note] are

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removed. Now where all live temperately and frugally, neither envy, nor injuries, nor hatred have place among equals. Whence the young were enjoined to repair to the Agelæ, and those of mature age to assemble at the Syssitia, or common meals, called Andreia, in order that the poorer sort, who were fed at the public charge, might partake of the same fare as the rich.

With a view that courage, and not fear, should predominate, they were accustomed from childhood to the use of arms, and to endure fatigue. Hence they disregarded heat and cold, rugged and steep roads, blows received in gymnastic exercises and in set battles.

They practised archery, and the dance in armour, which the Curetes first invented, and was afterwards perfected by Pyrrhichus, and called after him Pyrrhiche. Hence even their sports were not without their use in their training for war. With the same intention they used the Cretan measures in their songs; the tones of these measures are extremely loud; they were invented by Thales, to whom are ascribed the pæans and other native songs and many of their usages. They adopted a military dress also, and shoes, and considered armour as the most valuable of all presents. 10.4.17

Some, he says, alleged that many of the institutions supposed to be Cretan were of Lacedæmonian origin; but the truth is, they were invented by the former, but perfected by the Spartans. The Cretans, when their cities, and particularly Cnossus, were ravaged, neglected military affairs, but some usages were more observed by the Lyttii and Gortynii, and some other small cities, than by the Cnossians. Those persons, who maintain the priority of the Laconian institutions, adduce as evidence of this those of the Lyttii, because as colonists they would retain the customs of the parent state. Otherwise, it would be absurd for those, who lived under a better form of constitution and government, to be imitators of a worse. But this is not correct. For we ought not to form conjectures respecting the ancient from the present state of things, for each has undergone contrary changes. The Cretans were formerly powerful at sea, so that it was a proverbial saying addressed to those who pretended to be ignorant of what they knew, a Cretan, and not know the sea; but at present they have abandoned nautical affairs.

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Nor did it follow necessarily that, because there were some cities in Crete colonized by Spartans, they should continue to observe Spartan usages, since many of the cities of colonists do not preserve the customs of the mother country; and there are many cities in Crete, the inhabitants of which are not colonists, and yet have the same usages as those that have received colonies. 10.4.18

Lycurgus, the Spartan legislator, he says, was five generations later than Althæmenes, who conducted the colony into Crete. He is said by historians to have been the son of Cissus, who founded Argos [Note] about the same time that Procles was engaged in establishing a colony at Sparta. It is also generally admitted that Lycurgus was the sixth in descent from Procles. [Note] Copies do not precede the models, nor modern precede ancient things. The usual kind of dancing practised among the Lacedæmonians, the measures, and the pæans sung according to a certain mood, and many other usages, are called among them Cretan, as if they came from Crete. But among the ancient customs, those relative to the administration of the state have the same designations as in Crete, [Note] as the council of Gerontes [Note] and that of the Knights, [Note] except that in Crete the knights had horses; whence it is conjectured, that the council of Knights in Crete is more ancient, since the origin of the appellation is preserved. But the Spartan knight did not keep a horse. They who perform the same functions as the Cosmi in Crete, have the different title of Ephori [in Sparta]. The Syssitia, or common meal, is even at present called Andreia among the Cretans; but among the Spartans they did not continue to call it by its former name, as it is found in the poet Alcman; In festivals and in joyous assemblies of the Andreia, it is fit to begin the pean in honour of the guests. 10.4.19

The occasion of the journey of Lycurgus to Crete is said by the inhabitants to be as follows. The elder brother of Lycurgus was Polydectes, who, at his death, left his wife pregnant. Lycurgus reigned in place of his brother till the

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birth of a son. He then became the guardian of the child, who was heir to the kingdom. Some one said to him insultingly, he was sure Lycurgus would be king. Suspecting that by this speech he might be accused of contriving a plot against the child, and fearing that, if the child should die by any accident, his enemies might impute its death to him, he departed to Crete. This is said to have been the cause of his journey. Upon his arrival in Crete he became acquainted with Thales, the lyric poet and legislator. He learnt from this person the plan adopted by Rhadamanthus in former times, and afterwards by Minos in promulgating their laws, so as to procure a belief that they proceeded from Jupiter. He was also in ægypt, and obtained information respecting the laws and customs of that country. [Note] According to some writers, he met at Chios with Homer, who was living there, and then returned to his own country, where he found Charilaus, the son of his brother Polydectes, upon the throne. He then began to frame laws, repairing to the god at Delphi, and bringing thence ordinances, as Minos brought his from the cave of Jupiter. [Note] The greater part of these ordinances were similar to those of Minos.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 10.4.13 Str. 10.4.18 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 10.4.21

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