Lycurgus


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Related to Lycurgus: ephors, Gerousia

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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lycurgus

 

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.

REFERENCE

Micheli, H. Sparta. Cambridge, 1952.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Lycurgus

9th century bc, Spartan lawgiver. He is traditionally regarded as the founder of the Spartan constitution, military institutions, and educational system
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in classic literature ?
Were the experiment to be seriously made, though it required some effort to view it seriously even in fiction, I leave it to be decided by the sample of opinions just exhibited, whether, with all their enmity to their predecessors, they would, in any one point, depart so widely from their example, as in the discord and ferment that would mark their own deliberations; and whether the Constitution, now before the public, would not stand as fair a chance for immortality, as Lycurgus gave to that of Sparta, by making its change to depend on his own return from exile and death, if it were to be immediately adopted, and were to continue in force, not until a BETTER, but until ANOTHER should be agreed upon by this new assembly of lawgivers.
What if some man or youth imagines that he is a Lycurgus or Mahomet--a future one of course--and suppose he begins to remove all obstacles.
Hammurabi, Lycurgus, and Solon made sure to include family norms in their code.
tend to forget, from time to time, that conservatism is not a strange set of immutable rules of policy, fixed as the laws of Lycurgus, but instead a way of looking at man and society: a cast of mind and character, governed indeed by certain sound general principles, but capable of prudential application in different ways in varying circumstances" (p.
Our regime is uniquely friendly to science, as can be seen from Article 1, Section 8, of the US Constitution, which grants Congress the power "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." Unlike us, Sparta didn't believe in promoting progress (scientific or otherwise) because it didn't believe there was such a thing as progress, at least not after the great leap forward of its dramatic founding by Lycurgus. If the political community is already in the best of health, then change can only mean decline.
(Never mind that Greeks themselves considered it as one of the worst political systems.) Let us focus on the Athenian Age of Pericles (462-429)--although Sparta and Lycurgus are historically and conceptually equally important--in order to contrast direct and representative democracies.
In The Federalist he noted that "in every case reported by ancient history, in which government has been established with deliberation and consent, the task of framing it has not been committed to an assembly of men, but has been performed by some individual citizen of pre-eminent wisdom and approved integrity." Then, after alluding to the tales told regarding Minos, Zaleucus, Theseus, Draco, Solon, Lycurgus, Romulus, Numa, Tullus Hostilius, Servius Tullius, and Brutus, he expressed his admiration for "the improvement made by America on the ancient mode of preparing and establishing regular plans of government."
reputed for a gentleman ever after." (25) Here Harrison indicates how advancement and ambition are whitewashed by placing the advancement in "antiquitie" and calling the ambition disinterested "service." The Widow's Tears mocks such whitewashing even though it engages in the very same symbolic labors of concealment: In one act, Chapman's protagonist Tharsalio derides a rival who "by unknown quills or conduits underground, draws his pedigree from Lycurgus his great toe to the Viceroy's little finger" (2.4.178-80).
Manu's laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia.
Among their topics are looking for citizenship in archaic Greece: methodology and historical problems, the case of multiple citizenship holders in the Graeco-Roman east, citizens among outsiders in Plautus' Roman cosmopolis: a moment of change, Egyptians and citizenship from the first century AD to the Constitutio Antoniniana, metaphorical appeals to civic ethos in Lycurgus' Against Leocrates, and the idea of cosmopolitanism from its origin to the 21st century.