The Ancient Library

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On this page: Spartianus – Spartiatae – Spes – Sphaeristerium



Cadmus to found Thebes, and were the ancestors of the Theban nobility.

Spartianus. A Roman historian. (See


Spartlatse. In Sparta the ruling class of those who had the full rights of citizens, as distinguished from the subject Perlceci and Helots (g.i?.). They were the descen­dants of the Dorians, who had formerly conquered the land under the leadership of AristSdemus. As to the manner in which they were divided, see phyl.s. Their number is said never to have exceeded 10,000, and, as they were utterly opposed to the admission of foreign elements, it was constantly decreasing. At the time of the Persian wars it still amounted to 8,000, about 320 B.C. to little more than 1,000.

They were called hOmoioi (men sharing equal rights), with reference to the equality established amongst them by the legislation of Lycurgus, (1) in their education (q.v.), which was exclusively directed towards fit­ting them for service in war; (2) in their way of living, especially in the meals which they had in common (see syssitia) ; (3) in their property ; (4) and in their political rights.

To every family of Spartiatce an equal portion of land was assigned by Lycurgus, with a number of helots who had settled upon it, who had to cultivate the property and deliver the produce to its possessor. The Spartiatce themselves were not allowed to engage in a handicraft, or in trade, or in agri­culture ; their whole life had to be devoted to the service of the State, and therefore they had their abode in Sparta itself. The allotted land and the helots were accounted State property, and the possessors had no kind of right to dispose of them. Families which were dying out were preserved by adopting sons of families related to them, and similarly heiresses were married to men without inheritance of their own. If a family consisted of several male members, then the eldest was considered as head of the family, and had to sup­port his brothers. The original equality of property came to an end, partly through the extinction of many families and the transference of their lot of ground, partly by the silent abrogation of the old law, which did not allow the Spartiatce to possess silver or gold, but chiefly after the law of Epltadeus, by which the free disposal of land was allowed, if not by sale, at least by gift during lifetime and by will. But the principle of aristo-

cratic equality long continued in form ; and only those whe did not fulfil the conditions attached to the equality of rights, or who did not obey the injunctions of Lycurgus as to the education of the young, and as to the life of adult citizens, or who did not contribute to the common meals, suffered a diminution of their political rights. This involved exclusion from the government and administration of the State, as well as from the right of electing or being elected to office ; but the punishment affected the individual only, and did not descend to his children, nor did it touch his position in personal law.

Spes. The Roman personification of hope, especially of hope for a good harvest, and (in later times) for the blessing of children. There were several temples to Spes in Rome. She was represented as a youthful figure, moving along lightly in a long robe, which was raised a little in her left hand, while her right bore a bud, either closed or just about to open. In the course of time she came to be usually considered as a goddess of the future, invoked at births and marriages, and on similar occa­sions.

Sphaeristerlum (Gr. sphairisterlSn). A court for the game of ball in the gymnasia and thermal. SphceristicS was the name of the art of playing at ball (q.v.).

Sphendone. A fastening for the hair of the Greek women. (See hair.)

Sphinx (" the throttler "). A monster borrowed from Egyptian religion and sym­bolism, originally represented with the body of a winged lion and the breast and head of a maiden, and subsequently in still more won­derful forms (as a, maiden with the breast,


feet, and claws of a lion, the tail of a serpent, and the wings of a bird; or as a lion in front and a human being behind, with vulture's claws and eagle's wings). According to

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