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Lessons From Sparta

Lycurgus Sparta

We all know the story of the 300 Spartans that courageously fought a gigantic Persian army at Thermopylae. The ultimate sacrifice that they made on that location, it has been immortalized in Western culture. It is a story of patriotism, courage and self-sacrifice that inspires men, even to this day. However, Sparta & the Spartans were so much more than just this moment. Many lessons from the Spartans still hold merit today and have been forgotten by our peoples long ago. Let me illuminate the darkness that clouds the wisdom of the Spartans by telling some of the best stories & anecdotes available.

Quote from Agesilaus on Lycurgus;
When somebody asked what gain the laws of Lycurgus has brought Sparta, he said “contempt for Pleasures” 

Thinking differently on Money
While in some Greek city-states, wealth and money were held in the highest esteem, Lycurgus (a legendary Spartan lawgiver) thought radically differently. To support equality, he forbade the use of silver and gold. He created a new kind of Iron coin, which was bathed in vinegar making it too brittle for use. After calling in all gold and silver to defeat greed and the dependence on money, his new iron money was implemented. This iron currency, which was intrinsically worthless led to a decrease in crimes relating to currency theft. Next to that, it ensured that Sparta was more isolated from outside trade and the evil & decadent foreign influences. Imagine a Western leader being as bold as Lycurgus!

 Quote from Agesilaus on advice to friends;
He recommended his friends to strive to be rich not in possessions, but in courage and merit” 

A Different state of mind for & about Children
While most Europeans believe in submerging their children in comfort, love, individualism and fun. The Spartans held a radically different view on the raising of Children, most free male children were sent to the ‘agoge’. Here, they were trained to become strong and capable warriors. They would not learn to be themselves but to conform to the group. Self-interest was not only discouraged, it was disdained because boys were taught to put Sparta above their own interests. Imagine a Western college or school teaching boys these truly patriotic and masculine values instead of selfishness. 

Quote from Agesilaus;
“When somebody asked him why Sparta lacked fortification walls, he pointed to the citizens under arms and said “These are Sparta’s walls'” 

Quote from Agesilaus;
“When someone inquired of him what children should learn, he said; “What they will also use when they become men” 

Rejection of empty words
While in Athens, Orators, sophists and rhetoricians were praised and put in high esteem. The Spartans simply did not value long sentences and the needless use of many words. Our languages still know the terms ‘ Laconic humour’ or the ‘Laconic phrase’. These are based on the minimalist and blunt ways the Spartans communicated. A Spartan was expected to be a man of few words and the words that he used should be to the point. He should prove himself by action and not by gossiping and lying as a woman. Imagine a society where people aren’t cancelled by their old tweets but are judged solely on action.

Quote from Agis, Son of Archimadus;
“When some sophist stated; ‘Speech is the most powerful thing of all’, he said; ‘In that case, if you are silent, you are worthless” 

Quote from Agis, Son of Archimadus;
“An envoy who came to Sparta from Perinthus delivered a lengthy speech When he had finished talking and asked Agis what he should report back to the Perinthians, he said’ “ What else except that you barely managed to stop talking, while I remained Silent?” 

Why you should want to read more
A brief and anecdotal article on Sparta is not written to educate you fully on the wisdom of Spartans, my intention solely is to familiarize you with a superior culture. If you have any appreciation for the greatest Greek city-state to ever exist, you should be thirsty for more. I can highly recommend Plutarch’s “On Sparta” and Xenophon’s “Spartan Society” as books to start.

To end with a quote from Leonidas;
“When Xerxes wrote to him; ‘It is possible for you not to fight the gods but to side with me and be monarch of Greece,’ He wrote back; ‘If you understood what is honourable in life, you would avoid lusting after what belongs to others. For me, it is better to die for Greece than to be monarch of the people of my race”

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