Ancient Writers on Sparta

Events

Tyrtaeus

630 BCE - 561 BC

Tyrtaeus wrote poetry that encouraged the Spartans to fight bravely during the Second Messenian War.

Sparta

550 BC - 371 BC

Herodotus

484 BC - 425 BC

Considered to be the first real historian of the ancient world.

Thucydides

460 BC - 403 BC

The History of the Peloponnesian War was written by Thucydides during his long exile from his native Athens following his failure, as an Athenian general, to prevent the Spartans from capturing the Athenian colony of Amphipolis in 424BC.

Xenephon

430 BC - 354 BC

His family were wealthy Athenian horse people. He wrote a number of works including: Anabis, Cyropaedia, the Constituionof the Lacedaemonians, Aegisilaus and Hellencia.

Plato

428 BC - 348 BC

The great Greek philosopher Plato was born in Athens and died there, although he left the city for twelve years between 399 and 387 BC. In his works Republic and Laws Plato outlined his ideas on the perfect state and he found much to admire in the institutions and customs of Sparta.

Aristotle

384 BC - 322 BC

Aristotle wrote an estimated 200 works most in the form of notes and manuscripts, drafts touching on reasoning the rhetoric, politics, ethics, science and psychology.

Plutarch

46 AD - 120 AD

He wrote Sayings of Sparta and Sayings of Spartan Women. Plutarch lived centuries after the Sparta he writes about and even though he visited Sparta many of the ancient customs he reports had been long abandoned so he never actual;y saw what he wrote about.

Pausanias

140 AD - 180 AD

Description of Greece was written by Pausanias, a Greek traveler and geographer. Much of it takes the form of a tour of the Peloponnese, including Laconia. Pausanias gives a detailed description of Roman Sparta and the accuracy of his observations is confirmed by modern geographical studies and by archaeology. However, a problem with his description is that it often fails to distinguish between Roman remains and earlier Sparta remains.