The Science Work
Site is for sale:
Category: History

Assignment of someone else's property by theft, deception or violent depriving as heritage of homeric heroics in the culture of Sparta of the classical period

UDK 941381


In article the relation of Spartans to theft is considered. In the system of values existing during the considered period in Sparta the "thieves'" behavior model took the central place and covered all parties of existence of Spartan society: an educational system and formations, religious practices, joint meals, the relations with indigenous people of the subdued Messeniya there are ilotam and behavior concerning the fellow citizens. Conclusion: the homeric "heroic" system of values which unlike many other policies, in Sparta not only remained is the cornerstone of this "thieves'" behavior model, but also was the center of a system of behavioural values.

Cases of theft and use of someone else's property for personal reasons in Spartan society were not rare. Use of foreign servants, horses, vehicles and even stocks of food — all this not only was not punished, but also was considered as quite ordinary business. I will eat off someone else's property, whether it be theft, robbery or extortion were an integral part of Spartan society. Theft in general was one of basic elements of a Spartan educational system. According to Xenophon, boys were trained not to sleep at night, to hide in an ambush in the afternoon to steal for itself food. If they came across on theft, then mercilessly punished them — whipped lashes, but not for theft, and for sluggishness (Lak. Pol. 2.6). Therefore children sought to suppress in various ways the theft fact. A story about the Spartan boy who stole a young fox and hid it under a raincoat (Plut is widely known. Mor. 234a35). At the same time more successful pilferers got respect of the companions. The success in theft positively affected the social status of the young spartiat.

Moreover, one of the main Spartan religious cults — Artemis Orfiya's cult also had one of the basic elements theft. Xenophon mentions that during the festivals in honor of Artemis Orfiya the following test was carried out: the group of boys tried to steal as much as possible cheeses from an altar while other group of teenagers armed with whips drove away them, trying not to give them to steal cheese (Xen. Lak. Pol. 2.9).

One more important moment confirming this behavior model of spartiat cultivated in them since childhood — corruption and bribability of the highest state figures of Sparta. Still Aristotle, arguing on Spartan orders of the time, speaks about the corruption prospering in Sparta, as about the phenomenon widespread and deeply got into all population groups, especially into his highest environment. He mentions as an example of absolute unscrupulousness and corruptibility of the Spartan higher authorities some unknown to us from other sources the case connected with the island of Andros. According to Aristotle, in "androssky business... some of efor, tempted with money, ruined all state..." (Pol. II, 6, 14, 1270 b). Not better he speaks also of a Spartan gerusiya where unlike the eforat not the first comers got: "The people holding this position it appears, are available to bribery and often sacrifice public affairs for the sake of gratification" (Pol. II, 6, 18, 1271 a) 1.


Nizhny Novgorod



of N.A. Dobrolyubov


1 S.A. Zhebelev's translation.

In this light the statement attributed to the Spartan Aristodam is interesting: "Only the wealth does the person by the person! That who has no money — does not deserve anybody respect and cannot be considered as the worthy citizen!" (Alcaeus, fr. 101D).

All above-mentioned forms of depriving and assignment of someone else's property have one general root — the homeric "heroic" system of values which, unlike many other policies, in Sparta not only remained, but also was the center of a system of behavioural values.

Most brightly functioning of this system can be tracked on the example of relationship of Spartans with indigenous people subdued by them Meza-senii — ilotam.

"... As the donkeys bent under a great burden

They to misters from heavy need bear a half of Everything that the earth gives". (Tyrt. fr. 5 D)2

So described Tirtya the procedure of collecting a tribute from spartiatama ilot. But why half of a harvest? Sources do not give definite answer and modern researchers did not come to any communis opinio yet. The assumption stated independently of each other by Stefan to Linkom3 and Hank to Zingorom4 is submitted to us quite interesting. A starting point with which their reasonings begin is Tirtey's statement that ilota are obliged to give to the misters a half of what they will be able to collect from processed by them water. This statement connects the Link with the fact of occupation by Messeniya's Spartans and with the fact that in archaic Greece existed and practice in case of a city siege by the enemy was widely widespread to pay off from it with a half of all personal estate which is in city walls that probably and took place in a case with indigenous people of the subdued Messeniya. This tradition has documentary confirmations in homeric epose5. And from this ancient tradition — to raise from the enemy a half of his personal estate, according to the Link, Spartans also proceeded, establishing the size of an annual tribute which it will be more correct to call not a tribute, and repayment to which paid ilota. At the same time, according to this tradition the Spartans should have left ilot alone after they paid repayment. But they could not make it if they wanted to retain control over the won lands. What to do? Apparently, the answer of Spartans to this question is the custom of annual declaration of war to ilota. Every year, at taking office the efor had to confirm the old law on the announcement of so-called kriptiya, i.e. the war consecrated with ancient custom against ilot (Aristot. fr. 538). That efor entered the position in the fall it is possible to assume that year after year after the crop was reaped, divided into two equal parts and a half is given to spartiata (and thus the old debt was paid or, in other words, old obligations were fulfilled), new declaration of war followed then and on ilot new obligations which needed to be executed till next fall were imposed. And so on year after year. Possibly, in terms of ilot this system was perfidious, and, nevertheless, this order worked. Most likely, this tradition was very ancient. And even if we would not have any others to that confirmations, it would be possible to guess it only on the fact that knew about it Tirtya and him slushateli6.

2 Concerning the tribute size in a half of all harvest see Plut. Lyk. 8.7 and Hodkinson. Sharecropping and Sparta&s economic exploitation of the helots//J.M. Sanders (ed.). ФЬЛОЛАКО^ Studies in honor of H. Catling. London, 1992. P. 123-134, 125-133; Property and Wealth in Classical Sparta. Swansea and London, 2000. P. 125-131.
3 Link S. Das fruhe Sparta. Untersuchungen zur spartanischen Staatsbildung im 7. und 6. Jahrhundert v. Chr. St. Katharinen, 2000. S. 45-58.
4 Singor H.W. Spartan land lots and helot rents//H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg et al. (eds.). De Agricultura. In memoriam Pieter Willem De Neeve. Amsterdam, 1993. P. 31-60, 43-44.
5 See, for example: Il. 22.111-128 and Il. 18.509-512.
6 Hodkinson. The development of Spartan society and institutions in the archaic period//L. Mitchell and P. Rhodes (eds). The Development of the Polis in Archaic Greece. London, 1997. P. 83-102, 85-86.


No. 15(70) 2009

Spartans, ritualizovav declaration of war (and by that having institutionalized the requirement of repayment), made further it a cornerstone of existence of the society and Spartan rone in general. At the same time roles of the main participants were extremely simple: Spartans annually declared war on ilota and conducted it in the form of kriptiya, ilota, in turn, also annually paid repayment, paying off with that from the attacking enemy.

in What way such behavior of Spartans in relation to ilota was connected by

with widespread tradition of assignment of someone else's property in Sparta with the subsequent its use in the purposes? The answer is simple — as Spartans based the domination over ilota on ancient homeric tradition, following this logic, everyone spartiat could declare himself the descendant and the full successor of ancient heroes. The song by the Spartan soldier who so eulogized himself is known: "My wealth — my spear, my sword, my nice helmet, fortress of my body. By means of them I cultivate the land, I pick bread and I make wine from the vineyards; thanks to them — I am mister of the servants...".

And this heroism in Sparta was institutionalized. The distribution of land which took place after the 2nd Messensky war between full citizens — spar-tiata, made each spartiat not only the owner of a ground with the ilota attached to it. From the point of view of society everyone spartiat in relation to ilota acted not as the owner of land (to whom the inhabitants living and working on this site paid "rent") and not as the slaveholder (receiving results of work of the slaves). Everyone spartiat was perceived as the soldier forcing the enemy — ilot (let only and on the land plot) to pay off from itself. Thus, the institute of an ilotiya can be considered as a peculiar "heroic" option of slavery where ilot acted as the "prostrate" enemy, spartiat — the winner, and the tribute was considered as repayment.

The good stolen at the enemy according to homeric tradition has to be divided equally between companions (V1a1go0 of the hero. For example, Odysseus, having landed on the island where there lived a Cyclops, went to hunting and killed 118 goats which then distributed equally (on 9) on crews of each of 12 ships accompanying it, having taken itself 10. A bit later all 118 goats, including those that Odysseus left for himself were in common eaten (Oyo. 9. 152-162). It is represented that in a case with sissitiya we have an identical situation. Plutarch, speaking about Spartan joint meals, notes: "When who brought to the house what production from hunting it sends a part it to the sissitiya" (R! i1. 1_uk. 12.4). Obviously, it is Spartan option of homeric behavior model. The same model was applied in relation to the production stolen during attacks and wars. The ability to take rich production was one of the main lines (and advantages) the homeric hero and, as well as in a case with hunting, it had to divide production with the companions. The first that was made by Odysseus having returned from Polyphemus's cave — unloaded the ship with the good got there and divided it so that each of its satellites got an equal share (Oyo. 9. 543-549).

Also and each of members of a sissitiya contributed every month the share for a table d'hote — bushel of barley, 36 l of wine, 2 kg of cheese, 1 kg of figs and in addition to it are the small sum of money for meat and fish. And it was the Spartan option of homeric "heroic" behavior; spartiat — the hero sharing the production with the companions. And the custom exactly from here follows to deprive of the civil rights of the one who is not able to contribute the share. Spartiat who did not receive from the site of necessary quantity of products (in other words — not managed "to take production" at the enemy (ilot)) could not be considered as the successful soldier, "hero", to be called gomey, equal. Quite so — homoioi full Spartan citizens called themselves. And in it they followed homeric tradition.

Ajax so inspired the companions on fight:

"yu f! Huo! Aruye! ^ about? t enrkho? about? those? pe1?

about? those xepeioiepo? hardly! oi navie l? ode!

avepe? ev lokhetsyu!" (Il. 12.269-271).

And the difference exactly here is — soldiers from among ordinary people could not be called homoioi7. Spartans used this term for designation of full citizens. And the aspiration to keep this status, to confirm that they are "heroes", caused that behavior model which elements were assignment of someone else's property and also receiving "repayment" from ilot.

One more element of the same homeric "heroic" behavior model was the ability "by the right of strong" to take away not only property of the enemy, but also property of the companions, thereby once again confirming the exclusiveness and ability to do that finds necessary, without reckoning with someone else. So, Diomede deceived the Central board (whose mind besides was dimmed by Zeus), having exchanged at it the gold armor worth 100 rams belonging to it for the, much smaller cost — only 9 rams. At the same time Diomede perfectly saw that the Central board is not in senses and sober memory, but it did not confuse him and subsequently he did not test any remorse (Il. 6.234-236). Ded Odisseia — Avtolik was also widely known that he could steal as skillfully as his grandson Odysseus — to lie (Od. 19. 395-396).

However, not in all policies treated this "homeric" heritage with the same piety, as in Sparta. On the contrary — in the majority of the Ancient Greek cities of theft, violent I will eat off someone else's property and deception were condemned and punished. And in this regard it is necessary to mention, perhaps, the most striking example of the eternal opponent of Sparta — Athens. Solon's statement is known: "I want to own property, but I do not want to acquire it in any illegal way because undoubtedly, punishment will follow it" (Fr. 1.7-8 D). The homeric "heroic" behavior which is so closely connected with deception by theft and robbery in Athens came to naught, was marginalized and became characteristic of behavior of declassed elements, but not full citizens.

Spartans also did not try to get rid of what in other Greek world was already considered as criminal behavior, on the contrary, associating themselves with heroes of antiquity and cultivating in itself all characteristic features of their behavior. Spartans placed this behavior model in the center of a system of values. And confirmation to that is honoring of a cult of Odisseia in Sparta, construction of its sanctuary. And Odysseus stole palladium from Troy and did not differ in fidelity to the word at all and was considered as the famous deceiver. The best cartridge for Sparta it was difficult to think up.

Successful theft, I will eat off someone else's property and successful deception — all this was the proof of what made them is quite worthy citizen and the successor of ancient heroes, regardless of the one who was the victim — ilot, spartiat or even the goddess (as in a case with ritual theft of cheeses).

The chorus of old men began and sang: "Once we were young and brave!" Old men were answered by chorus of men: "Now we are brave! Try if you want!" The children's choir picked up: "And we will be more brave than all of you over time!" (Plut. Lyk. 21.3). And immediately proved it, stealing food from seniors.

Plutarch, speaking about Lycurgus's laws noted that: "Lycurgus's laws are effective in education of valor, but are absolutely useless in establishment of justice" (Plut. Lyk. 28.1).

The most correctly capturing the essence of this situation Xenophon's words are presented to us: "... he (Lycurgus) believed that deception and theft do harm only to their victims; at the same time weak and coward — traitors of all state, and absolutely correct is to subject them to the most severe of the NAC -

7 Link S. Das fruhe Sparta. Untersuchungen zur spartanischen Staatsbildung im 7. und 6. Jahrhundert v. Chr. St. Katharinen, 2000. S. 52.
26 SCIENTIFIC SHEETS No. 15(70) 2009

to a zaniye" (Xen. Lak. Pol. 10.6). These words once again prove that in Sparta the manifestation of cowardice was considered as the most serious crime. Spartiat who betrayed ideals of "the homeric hero" has to be punished without mercy. At the same time, the one who stole something, without having done much harm at the same time to anybody, except the victim, proved thereby that in society there are still strong personalities, heroes.



The article touches upon the very unique Spartan attitudes towards theft. In Classical Spartan was in the center of the value system and covered nearly every aspect of life of the Spartan society: upbringing and edu-D. I. STROIKOV cation, religious rites, common meals, behavior towards the helot popula-

tion of Laconia and fellow citizens. Relying on the existing sources and Nizhny Novgorod Linguistic having analyzed different solutions on this issue it could be concluded that University in the center of the Spartan "thievish" pattern of behavior lies Homeric

n.a. N-A. Dobrolyubov heroic code, which in Sparta, unlike in many other Greek states, has not

e mail- only preserved, but become the center of the value system.

Jeffrey Blair
Other scientific works: