Superphysics Superphysics
Section 6

The Spartan Economy

by Xenophon
2 minutes  • 396 words

Lycurgus views ran counter to those commonly accepted.

In other states, a citizen is master over his own children, domestics, goods and chattels, and belongings generally.

But Lycurgus’ aim was to secure to all the citizens a considerable share in one another’s goods without mutual injury.

  • He enacted that each one should have an equal power of his neighbour’s children as over his own.

When a man knows that this, that, and the other person are fathers of children subject to his authority, he must perforce deal by them even as he desires his own child to be dealt by.

If a boy chance to have received a whipping, not from his own father but some other, and goes and complains to his own father, it would be thought wrong on the part of that father if he did not inflict a second whipping on his son.

A striking proof, in its way, how completely they trust each other not to impose dishonourable commands upon their children.

In the same way, he empowered them to use their neighbour’s domestics in case of need.

This communism he applied also to dogs used for the chase; in so far that a party in need of dogs will invite the owner to the chase, and if he is not at leisure to attend himself, at any rate he is happy to let his dogs go.

The same applies to the use of horses.

Some one has fallen sick perhaps, or is in want of a carriage, or is anxious to reach some point or other quickly—in any case he has a right, if he sees a horse anywhere, to take and use it, and restores it safe and sound when he has done with it.

Here is another institution attributed to Lycurgus which scarcely coincides with the customs elsewhere in vogue.

A hunting party returns from the chase, belated.

They want provisions—they have nothing prepared themselves.

To meet this contingency he made it a rule that owners (6) are to leave behind the food that has been dressed; and the party in need will open the seals, take out what they want, seal up the remainder, and leave it.

Accordingly, by his system of give-and-take even those with next to nothing have a share in all that the country can supply, if ever they stand in need of anything.

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