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Polity Athenians and Lacedaemonians   By: (431 BC - 350? BC)

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THE POLITY OF THE ATHENIANS AND THE LACEDAEMONIANS

By Xenophon

Translation by H. G. Dakyns

Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans, and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land and property in Scillus, where he lived for many years before having to move once more, to settle in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

The Polity of the Lacedaemonians talks about the laws and institutions created by Lycurgus, which train and develop Spartan citizens from birth to old age.

PREPARER'S NOTE

This was typed from Dakyns' series, "The Works of Xenophon," a four volume set. The complete list of Xenophon's works (though there is doubt about some of these) is:

Work Number of books

The Anabasis 7 The Hellenica 7 The Cyropaedia 8 The Memorabilia 4 The Symposium 1 The Economist 1 On Horsemanship 1 The Sportsman 1 The Cavalry General 1 The Apology 1 On Revenues 1 The Hiero 1 The Agesilaus 1 The Polity of the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians 2

Text in brackets "{}" is my transliteration of Greek text into English using an Oxford English Dictionary alphabet table. The diacritical marks have been lost.

The Polity of the Lacedaemonians talks about the laws and institutions created by Lycurgus, which train and develop Spartan citizens from birth to old age.

THE POLITY OF THE ATHENIANS

I

Now, as concerning the Polity of the Athenians, (1) and the type or manner of constitution which they have chosen, (2) I praise it not, in so far as the very choice involves the welfare of the baser folk as opposed to that of the better class. I repeat, I withhold my praise so far; but, given the fact that this is the type agreed upon, I propose to show that they set about its preservation in the right way; and that those other transactions in connection with it, which are looked upon as blunders by the rest of the Hellenic world, are the reverse.

(1) See Grote, "H. G." vi. p. 47 foll.; Thuc. i. 76, 77; viii. 48; Boeckh, "P. E. A." passim; Hartman, "An. Xen. N." cap. viii.; Roquette, "Xen. Vit." S. 26; Newman, "Pol. Arist." i. 538; and "Xenophontis qui fertur libellus de Republica Atheniensium," ed. A. Kirchhoff (MDCCCLXXIV), whose text I have chiefly followed.

(2) Lit. "I do not praise their choice of the (particular) type, in so far as..."

In the first place, I maintain, it is only just that the poorer classes (3) and the People of Athens should be better off than the men of birth and wealth, seeing that it is the people who man the fleet, (4) and put round the city her girdle of power. The steersman, (5) the boatswain, the lieutenant, (6) the look out man at the prow, the shipright these are the people who engird the city with power far rather than her heavy infantry (7) and men of birth of quality. This being the case, it seems only just that offices of state should be thrown open to every one both in the ballot (8) and the show of hands, and that the right of speech should belong to any one who likes, without restriction. For, observe, (9) there are many of these offices which, according as they are in good or in bad hands, are a source of safety or of danger to the People, and in these the People prudently abstains from sharing; as, for instance, it does not think it incumbent on itself to share in the functions of the general or of the commander of cavalry... Continue reading book >>




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