Spartan sayings of royalty and the Spartiati warriors
The definition of laconic according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: using or involving the use of a minimum of words. Its etymology which dates back to 1589 is from the Latin laconicus Spartan, from Greek lakōnikos; from the Spartan reputation for terseness of speech.
Lakedaimon (Λακεδαίμων) or Lakedaimonia (Λακεδαιμονία) are the names that the ancient Greeks used when referencing Sparta. The area around Sparta, of which it was included was called Laconia, which is from where the word laconic is derived.
It is ironic since the region of ancient Greece whose inhabitants were known for their 'laconicism' would speak some of the most memorable quotes which have survived throughout the centuries. Therefore, this page will include several of these sayings which have come to embody Spartan royalty and its warriors.
This page will be updated quite frequently to include more of these sayings.
Of all the sayings which have been attributed by the historian/biographer Plutarch to the Eurypontid king Agesilaus who reigned from 398-361 BC,
the following is probably the most well known...
When the Spartans were fighting the
Thebans in the 370s BC, Sparta's allies were unwilling to serve under
the leadership of King Agesilaus and his Spartiates, as they had many
more men in the ranks than did the Spartans. Therefore, after hearing these objections, Agesilaus
separated the groups into two, with the Spartans on one side and
Sparta's allies on the other. Those
in the following professions were asked to rise: potters, smiths,
shepherds, craftsmen, etc. When all had stood up, only the Spartans
remained seated to which King Agesilaus stated, "You see friends, who
has more soldiers!!!"
if this sounds familiar, it was appropriated by Warner Bros. for the
movie '300'. While King Leonidas as portrayed by Gerard Butler used
this line to great comic effect in the movie, it was actually spoken by
the above-mentioned king.
A sampling recorded by Plutarch who traveled throughout the Mediterranean world, can be read below. In addition, many others can be found by clicking the link to the attributed sayings of King Agesilaus.
When someone asked why Sparta lacked
fortification walls, the Spartan Eurypontid king Agesilaus pointed to
his fellow Spartiates and said "These are the Spartans' walls."
When asked how far Sparta's boundaries stretched, Agesilaus brandished his spear and said, "As far as this can reach!"
When asked "What gain the laws of Lycurgus had brought Sparta?" To which he replied: "Contempt for pleasures."
To the man who was amazed at how modest his clothes and his meals were, and those of the other Spartans as well, he replied: "Freedom is what we reap from this way of life, my friend."
When asked as how he gained his reputation as a great warrior
and leader, he replied: "By having despised death."
When he was still quite young and at the Gymnopaediae celebration, the director placed Agesilaus
at a rather inconspicuous position. Even though he would eventually
become king, he remarked: "That's fine, for I shall show that it isn't
positions which lend men distinction, but men who enhance positions."
When it was inquired why he went without undergarments in the coldest of winter, the aging king replied: "So that the young men may do the same, with the oldest men and office-holders as their example."
When someone asked why Spartiates go into battle to the music of pipes, King Agesilaus said: "So that, as they proceed in step to the music, both the cowards and the brave may be clearly distinguished."