Book Club | July 2022: Constitution of the Lacedaemonians

Word cloud: Spartan warrior

It occurred to me one day that Sparta, though among the most thinly populated of states, was evidently the most powerful and most celebrated city in Greece; and I fell to wondering how this could have happened. But when I considered the institutions of the Spartans, I wondered no longer. Lycurgus, who gave them the laws that they obey, and to which they owe their prosperity, I do regard with wonder; and I think that he reached the utmost limit of wisdom. For it was not by imitating other states, but by devising a system utterly different from that of most others, that he made his country pre-eminently prosperous.
1.1–2, translation by Marchant & Bowersock

For July we will be reading Xenophon’s Constitution of the Lacedaemonians. A footnote in Thomas Stanley’s translation (p703) says:

This treatise is deservedly held in great estimation, as being the work of a man who was trained by a philosopher…To this may be added Xenophon’s great experience in civil and military affairs, his acquaintance with many of the highest in rank of the Lacedemonians, such as Agesilaus, Cheirisophous, and others of that nation with whom he lived on friendly terms when in exile.

As always, you may read any translation you like. Here are links to some free online versions:

We will start and continue discussion in the Forum, and meet via Zoom on Tuesday, July 26, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

Happy readings!