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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 57

58. These rights have been assigned to the kings for their lifetime by the Spartan State; and after they are dead these which follow:—horsemen go round and announce that which has happened throughout the whole of the Laconian land, and in the city women go about and strike upon a copper kettle. Whenever this happens so, two free persons of each household must go into mourning, a man and a woman, and for those who fail to do this great penalties are appointed. Now the custom of the Lacedemonians about the deaths of their kings is the same as that of the Barbarians who dwell in Asia, for most of the Barbarians practise the same customs as regards the death of their kings. Whensoever a king of the Lacedemonians is dead, then from the whole territory of Lacedemon, not reckoning the Spartans, a certain fixed number of the "dwellers round" 43 are compelled to go to the funeral ceremony:

59. and when there have been gathered together of these and of the Helots and of the Spartans themselves many thousands in the same place, with their women intermingled, they beat their foreheads with a good will and make lamentation without stint, saying that this one who has died last of their kings was the best of all: and whenever any of their kings has been killed in war, they prepare an image to represent him, laid upon a couch with fair coverings, and carry it out to be buried. Then after they have buried him, no assembly is held among them for ten days, nor is there any meeting for choice of magistrates, but they have mourning during these days. In another respect too these resemble the Persians; that is to say, when the king is dead and another is appointed king, this king who is newly coming in sets free any man of the Spartans who was a debtor to the king or to the State; while among the Persians the king who comes to the throne remits to all the cities the arrears of tribute which are due.

60. In the following point also the Lacedemonians resemble the Egyptians; that is to say, their heralds and fluteplayers and cooks inherit the crafts of their fathers, and a fluteplayer is the son of a fluteplayer, a cook of a cook, and a herald of a herald; other men do not lay hands upon the office because they have loud and clear voices, and so shut them out of it, but they practise their craft by inheritance from their fathers.

61. Thus are these things done: and at this time of which we speak, 44 while Cleomenes was in Egina doing deeds 45 which were for the common service of Hellas, Demaratos brought charges against him, not so much because he cared for the Eginetans as because he felt envy and jealousy of him. Then Cleomenes, after he returned from Egina, planned to depose Demaratos from being king, making an attempt upon him on account of this matter which follows:—Ariston being king in Sparta and having married two wives, yet had no children born to him; and since he did not acknowledge that he himself was the cause of this, he married a third wife; and he married her thus:—he had a friend, a man of the Spartans, to whom of all the citizens Ariston was most inclined; and it chanced that this man had a wife who was of all the women in Sparta the fairest by far, and one too who had become the fairest from having been the foulest. For as she was mean in her aspect, her nurse, considering that she was the daughter of wealthy persons and was of uncomely aspect, and seeing moreover that her parents were troubled by it,—perceiving I say these things, her nurse devised as follows:—every day she bore her to the temple of Helen, which is in the place called Therapne, lying above the temple of Phoebus; and whenever the nurse bore her thither, she placed her before the image and prayed the goddess to deliver the child from her unshapeliness. And once as the nurse was going away out of the temple, it is said that a woman appeared to her, and having appeared asked her what she was bearing in her arms; and she told her that she was bearing a child; upon which the other bade her show the child to her, but she refused, for it had been forbidden to her by the parents to show it to any one: but the woman continued to urge her by all means to show it to her. So then perceiving that the woman earnestly desired to see it, the nurse showed her the child. Then the woman stroking the head of the child said that she should be the fairest of all the women in Sparta; and from that day her aspect was changed. Afterwards when she came to the age for marriage, she was married to Agetos the son of Alkeides, this friend of Ariston of whom we spoke..


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