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Lycurgus(līkûr`gəs), traditional name of the founder of the Spartan constitution. The earliest mention of him is in Herodotus. Nothing is known of his life—when he lived or if he was a real man, a god, or a mythical figure. However, he is generally associated with the 7th cent. B.C. at the time when a revolt of the Messenian subjects nearly ruined Sparta. Lycurgus led a reform in the government and in the city's social system to establish a machine of war that would preclude further trouble from the helots and other subjects. Some features of the unique Spartan system were certainly more recent than 600 B.C. Later classical writers added details to his life as the tradition developed until Plutarch actually wrote a biography.
Lycurgus,c.396–c.325 B.C., one of the Ten Attic Orators of the Alexandrian canon; pupil of Isocrates. A capable and honored public official, he administered the state finances from 338 to 326 B.C. and led (with Demosthenes) the anti-Macedonian party. One of his official acts ordered the editing and preserving of the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. A single oration (Against Leocrates) is extant.
legendary Spartan lawgiver said to have lived in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. in ancient Greece.
Information concerning the life of Lycurgus is varied and contradictory. Greek authors of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. ascribe to him the creation of institutions of Spartan society and state structure, which actually took shape in the course of a lengthy historical transition from a primitive communal structure to class society. Lycurgus is said to have divided up the Laconian lands with their enserfed Helots into equal shares distributed among the Spartans and into smaller shares for the perioeci. He is supposed to have created the council of elders (gerousia) and the popular assembly (apella). He introduced public refectories and stern methods of bringing up children. In the third century B.C., Kings Agis IV and Cleomenes III carried out reforms with the stated aim of restoring what Lycurgus had created. A special cult of Lycurgus existed in Sparta.