Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spartan Sayings II

In my previous post on this topic, I included sayings of a military nature – those that reflected the Spartan view of battle and their strength against all enemies. Today’s collection includes quotes which reflect the Spartan view of their society and political system. I find the quotes of women fascinating because their Spartan philosophy stayed intact even when confronted with extreme emotional pain.

When asked what gain the laws of Lycurgus had brought Sparta, he said, “Contempt for pleasures.”

On noticing a house in Asia roofed with square beams, the Spartan asked the owner whether timber grew square in that region. When told no he remarked, “ So if it were square, you would make it round?”

Someone inquired how many Spartans there were. The reply, “Enough to keep out undesirables.”

A Spartan told a man who was angry at being exiled, “Good friend, it is exile from justice, not from your city, you should dread.”

A man asked, “How can Spartans confidently face danger in war?” The rely, “Because we practice proper respect for life, not fear of it like the rest of mankind.”

An Athenian called a Spartan uneducated. The reply was, “At least we are the only ones who have learned nothing wicked from you.”

An Athenian was giving a funeral eulogy in praise of some men killed by Spartans. A Spartan noticing this said, “What, then, do you think was the quality of the men that defeated them?”

When the sophist Hecataeus was invited to the Spartan mess and said nothing, he came under criticism. The King Archidamidas, who was present, said, “Evidently you don’t understand that an expert at speaking also knows when to speak.”

Someone asked Demaratus, a Spartan King, how he could be exiled. His reply, “Because Spartan laws are more powerful than I am.”

The ambassador from Elis stated that he had been dispatched to Sparta for the specific reason that he emulated the Spartan way of life. King Theopompus said, “So which of the two ways is better, yours or that of your fellow citizens. The ambassador declared that his was, causing the king to remark, “How then could this city of yours keep itself safe when among the population there is only one brave man?”

Someone asked why Spartans drink so sparingly. The reply, “So that others may not make decisions on our behalf, but we may for others.”

A foreigner asked a Spartan, “You people adhere strongly to having no occupation. The Spartan replied, “You are correct. Our aim is that, unlike you, we shouldn’t be concerned with every random pastime.”

After their victory at Platea, the Spartan king gave orders for his men to enjoy the Persian dinner which had been prepared before the battle. Looking at the expensive spread he remarked, “ How greedy those Persians must be to come here and chase our barley bread.”

A Spartan mother heard her son had been saved and escaped the enemy, so she wrote to him saying, “You have been tainted by a bad reputation, which you must remove.”

As a Spartan was describing his brother’s noble death to his mother, she remarked, “Isn’t it a disgrace for you, then, not to have gone on such a fine journey with him?”

A woman upon hearing of her son’s death said, “So bury him and let his brother take his place.”

As man in a finely embroidered robe was making advances to Gorgo, Leonidas’ wife, she said, “Get out of here. You can’t even play a female role.”

1 comment:

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