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Diogenes of Sinope | Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus 31

It was not, however, the chief design of Lycurgus then to leave his city in command over a great many others, but he thought that the happiness of an entire city, like that of a single individual, depended on the prevalence of virtue and concord within its own borders. The aim, therefore, of all his arrangements and adjustments was to make his people free-minded, self-sufficing, and moderate in all their ways, and to keep them so as long as possible. His design for a civil polity was adopted by Plato, Diogenes, Zeno, and by all those who have won approval for their treatises on the subject, although they left behind them only writings and words. Lycurgus, on the other hand, produced not only writings and words, but an actual polity which was beyond imitation, and because he gave, to those who maintain that the much talked of natural disposition to wisdom exists only in theory, an example of an entire city given to the love of wisdom, his family rightly transcended that of all who ever founded polities among the Greeks. Therefore Aristotle says that the honours paid him in Sparta were less than he deserved, although he enjoys the highest honours there. For he has a temple, and sacrifices are offered to him yearly as to a god. It is also said that when his remains were brought home, his tomb was struck by lightning, and that this hardly happened to any other eminent man after him except Euripides, who died and was buried at Arethusa in Macedonia. The lovers of Euripides therefore regard it as a great testimony in his favour that he alone experienced after death what had earlier befallen a man who was most holy and beloved of the gods.

Source: Plutarch Lives. Revised/translated by A. H. Clough. Revised from Dryden's version. Also known as “Parallel Lives”, written in Greek ~100 AD. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 1859.

diogenes_of_sinope/plutarch_life_of_lycurgus_31.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/14 23:19 (external edit)