Excerpt from Plutarch's Lives, 1727

THERE is ſo much Incertainty in the
accounts which Hiſtorians have left us
of Lycurgus, the Law-giver of Sparta,
that ſcarcely any thing is aſſerted by
One of them, which is not call'd into
queſtion or contradicted by the Reſt. Their Sen-
timents are quite different as to the Family he came
of, the Voyages he undertook, the place and man-
ner of his Death, but moſt of all when they ſpeak
of the Laws he made, and the Commonwealth
which he founded. They cannot by any means be
brought to an agreement as to the very Age in
which this excellent Perſon liv'd, for ſome of
them ſay that he flouriſhed in the time of Iphitus,
and that they two jointly contriv'd the Ordinance
for the Ceſſation of Arms during the Solem-
nity of the Olympick Games. Of this Opinion
was Ariſtotle the Philoſopher, and for Confirmation
of it he alledges an Inſcription upon one of the
Copper Coits uſed in thoſe Sports, upon which
the Name of Lycurgus continued undefac'd to his
time. But others, as Eratoſthenes and Apollo-
, two learned Chronologers, tracing back the
time by the Succeſſions of the Spartan Kings,
pretend to demonſtrate (4) that he was much more

antient than the very firſt Olympiad. Timæus con-
jectures that there were two of his Name, and
in diverſe times; but that the One of them being
much more famous than the Other, Men gave to
Him the Glory of the Exploits of Both: The El-
der of the Two, according to Him, was not long
after Homer, and Some are ſo particular as even
to ſay that he had ſeen Homer. But that he was of
great Antiquity may be gathered from a paſ(ſ)age in
Xenophon, where he makes him contempo-
rary with the Heraclidæ; not but that the very laſt
Kings of Sparta were Heraclidæ too: but he seems
in that place to call Those Heraclidæ who were the
firſt, and more immediate Succeſſors of Hercules.
But notwithſtanding this confuſion and obſcurity
of Writers who have gone before us in this Sub-
ject, we ſhall endeavour to compoſe the Hiſtory of
his Life, ſetting down thoſe paſ(ſ)ages which are
leaſt contradicted, and following thoſe Authors
who are moſt worthy of Credit.
The Poet Simonides will needs have it that Ly-
was the Son of Prytanis, and not of Euno-
; but in this Opinion he is ſingular, for all
the reſt deduce the Genealogy of them both as
Ariſtodemus, Prytanis,
Eunomus, who by his firſt
Patrocles, Wife had a Son nam'd Po-
Soüs, lydectes
, and by his ſecond
Wife, Dianaſ(ſ)a, had this Ly-
Eurition, curgus.

whoſe Life is before us; but as Eutychidas ſays, he
was the Sixth from Patrocles, and the Eleventh
from Hercules. Be this as it will, Soüs certainly
was the moſt renown'd of all his Anceſtors, under
whoſe Conduct the Spartans ſubdu'd and made
Slaves of the Ilotes, and added to their Dominions
good part of the Country which they wreſted
from the Arcadians. There goes a Story of this
King Soüs, that being beſieged by the Clitorians
in a dry and ſtony place, ſo that he could come
at no Water, he was at laſt conſtrained to agree
with them upon theſe hard terms, That he would
reſtore to them all his Conqueſts, provided that
himſelf and all his Men ſhould drink of a Spring
not far diſtant from his Camp. After the uſual
Oaths and Ratifications, he call'd his Soldiers to-
gether, and offer'd to Him that would forbear
Drinking, his Kingdom for a reward. [Their
Thirſt was ſo much ſtronger than their Ambition,
that] not a Man of them was able to forbear. In
ſhort, when they had all drank their fill, at laſt
comes King Soüs himſelf to the Spring, and, hav-
ing ſprinkled his Face only, without ſwallowing
one drop, he march'd off in the Face of his Ene-
mies, refuſing to yield up his Conqueſts, becauſe
himſelf, and all his Men (according to the Articles)
had not drank of their Water.