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The Story of the Greeks by  H. A. Guerber

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LAWS OF LYCURGUS

THE Spartan girls, who were brought up by the women, were, like the boys, taught to wrestle, run, and swim, and to take part in gymnastics of all kinds, until they too became very strong and supple, and could stand almost any fatigue.


[Illustration]

A Dancing Girl.

They were also taught to read, write, count, sing, play, and dance; to spin, weave, and dye; and to do all kinds of woman's work. In short, they were expected to be strong, intelligent, and capable, so that when they married they might help their husbands, and bring up their children sensibly. At some public festivals the girls strove with one another in various games, which were witnessed only by their fathers and mothers and the other married people of the city. The winners in these contests were given beautiful prizes, which were much coveted.

[70] Lycurgus hoped to make the Spartans a strong and good people. To hinder the kings from doing anything wrong, he had the people choose five men, called ephors, to watch over and to advise them.

Then, knowing that great wealth is not desirable, Lycurgus said that the Spartans should use only iron money. All the Spartan coins were therefore bars of iron, so heavy that a yoke of oxen and a strong cart were needed to carry a sum equal to one hundred dollars from one spot to another. Money was so bulky that it could neither be hidden nor stolen; and no one cared to make a fortune, since it required a large space to stow away even a small sum.

When Charilaus, the infant king, had grown up, Lycurgus prepared to go away. Before he left the town, he called all the citizens together, reminded them of all he had done to make them a great people, and ended by asking every man present to swear to obey the laws until he came back.

The Spartans were very grateful for all he had done for them, so they gladly took this oath, and Lycurgus left the place. Some time after, he came back to Greece; but, hearing that the Spartans were thriving under the rules he had laid down, he made up his mind never to visit Sparta again.

It was thus that the Spartans found themselves bound by solemn oath to obey Lycurgus' laws forever; and as long as they remembered this promise, they were a thriving and happy people.


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