/luy kerr"geuhs/, n.
fl. 9th century B.C., Spartan lawgiver.

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born с 390
died 324 BC

Athenian orator and statesman.

He supported Demosthenes in opposing Macedonia. As controller of state finances (338–326), he was noted for his efficient administration and vigorous prosecution of corrupt officials. He reconstituted the army and remodeled the fleet, carried on a major building program that included reconstruction of the theatre of Dionysus, produced the official edition of the dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and worked to restore Athenian cults and festivals.
flourished 7th century BC?

Legendary founder of the legal institutions of ancient Sparta.

Because ancient sources give differing accounts of his career, some scholars conclude that he was not a historical person, but many believe that a man named Lycurgus instituted drastic reforms in Sparta after the revolt of the helots in the 7th century BC. Lycurgus is thought to have devised the militarized communal system that made Sparta unique among Greek city-states and to have determined the powers of the council and the assembly.

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▪ Athenian statesman
born c. 390 BC
died c. 324

      Athenian statesman and orator (oratory) noted for his efficient financial administration and vigorous prosecutions of officials charged with corruption.

      Lycurgus supported Demosthenes' opposition to Macedonian expansion. During the 12 years (338–326) following the Athenian defeat by Macedonia at Chaeronea, he controlled the state finances and is said to have doubled the annual public revenues. He reformed the constitution of the army, remodeled the fleet, repaired dockyards, and finished the arsenal designed by the architect Philo. Lycurgus carried out an extensive building program, including the reconstruction in stone of the theatre of Dionysus. He also had official copies made of the plays of the three great tragic dramatists, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. These copies were borrowed by Ptolemy II Philadelphus for the great library at Alexandria (Alexandria, Library of), Egypt, and are the basis of texts of the Greek tragedians to the present day.

      An austerely pious and patriotic man, he felt it his mission to raise the level of public and private morals. Of his 15 speeches existing in ancient times, only one, “Against Leocrates,” has survived complete; in it, Lycurgus indicts Leocrates for fleeing Athens in the panic that followed the Battle of Chaeronea. The speech is an impersonal homily on patriotism in a style that, although showing traces of Isocrates' influence, is marred by careless sentence structure and unnecessarily long quotations from historical and poetical sources.

▪ Spartan lawgiver
flourished 7th century BC?

      traditionally, the lawgiver who founded most of the institutions of ancient Sparta.

      Scholars have been unable to determine conclusively whether Lycurgus was a historical person and, if he did exist, which institutions should be attributed to him. In surviving ancient sources, he is first mentioned by the Greek writer Herodotus (5th century BC), who claimed that the lawgiver belonged to Sparta's Agiad house, one of the two houses (the other being the Eurypontid) that held Sparta's dual kingship. According to Herodotus, the Spartans of his day claimed that Lycurgus' reforms were inspired by the institutions of Crete. The historian Xenophon, writing in the first half of the 4th century BC, apparently believed that Lycurgus had founded Sparta's institutions soon after the Dorians invaded Laconia (c. 1000 BC) and reduced the native Achaean population to the status of serfs, or helots.

      By the middle of the 4th century BC, it was generally accepted that Lycurgus had belonged to the Eurypontid house and had been regent for the Eurypontid king Charillus. On this basis Hellenistic scholars dated him to the 9th century BC. In his Life of Lycurgus, the Greek biographer Plutarch pieced together popular accounts of Lycurgus' career. Plutarch described Lycurgus' journey to Egypt and claimed that the reformer had introduced the poems of Homer to Sparta.

      In the light of the conflicting opinions about Lycurgus held by writers before 400 BC, some modern scholars have concluded that Lycurgus was not a real person. They point out that the Greeks tended to discuss the origins of political and social institutions in terms of the personal intentions of a single founder. Nevertheless, many historians believe that a man named Lycurgus should be associated with the drastic reforms that were instituted in Sparta after the revolt of the helots in the second half of the 7th century BC. Those scholars claim that, in order to prevent another helot revolt, Lycurgus devised the highly militarized communal system that made Sparta unique among the city-states of Greece. If that view is correct, it is probable that Lycurgus also delineated the powers of the two traditional organs of the Spartan government, the gerousia (council of elders, including the two kings) and the apella (assembly).

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Universalium. 2010.

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