Philosophy is a study that tries to define and explain how people in a community should live wisely. In his Life of Lycurgus, Plutarch wrote Lycurgus produced an inimitable constitution, showing the spectacle of an entire city acting like philosophers (Readings, p.185). Unlike other philosophers, Lycurgus ideas were practical; his laws didnt just describe the proper way of living, but also put it to work. Using his constitution, Spartans became harmonious, developed feelings of honor, self-reliance, and self-control which the leader believed were the keys to living wisely. In addition such destructive force as individualism was replaced by a desire to serve the community.
Lycurgus first reform was an economic one. He started by redistributing the land. Since there was an immense gap between the poor and the wealthy people, he created equal incomes for all Spartans. Then, he devaluated gold and silver, making only iron currency legal. This action rid Sparta of sophists, charlatans, prostitutes, gold and silver smiths. It also stopped trade and all negative influences of outsiders. To take away unnecessary desire for riches and luxury, Lycurgus introduced common dinning tables which provided just enough food for men not to be hungry. He believed eating in luxurious settings and stuffing oneself with excess of food softened and weakened him.Lycurgus thought that dining at home contributed to greed and took away from living wisely. Also he believed using services of others (servants) at dinner caused feelings of inequality and concentration on material good rather than nonmaterial one which Lycurgus advertised. Luxury became extinct and for the most part so did pride, envy and crime. The Lycurgan system made it so that the Spartans would only attempt to compete in courage and virtue instead of competing for material goods like more land and wealth.
Next, Lycurgus regulated marriages and childbirth. Lycurgus thought that the principles of most importance for the prosperity and honor of the state would remain most securely fixed if implanted in the citizens by habit and training, as they would the be followed from choice rather than necessity (Readings, p.180). From birth, laws and regulations were imputed into the minds of Spartans. In adulthood, when they thought they acted upon their will, they actually did what was in the best interest of their city because they did not know any other alternatives. Lycurgus strengthened the women by making them exercise so that their offspring would grow up strong and healthy. For the children to be born with the best genes, he allowed sexual activities among married women and men other than their husbands with the husbands consent. If offspring were born defective or ill, they were exposed of at Mountain Taygetus to make sure that Spartans form a superior race. The great ruler made girls and boys walk naked in the presence of the opposite sex, which produced modesty and taught them appreciation for healthy, strong, and beautiful bodies in addition to teaching importance of courage.
Lycurgus went further to improve the state education.From the age of seven, boys were placed in groups where they lived, ate, played and learned how to fight.The youngsters were taught how to read, write and speak to the point. The behavior of each group was observed and judged. To captains of the groups, others lookedfor orders, obeyed his commands, and endured his punishments, so that even in childhood they learned to obey (Readings, p.182). One of the things the future warriors were taught was how to steal successfully which would increase their skill in being cunning and sneaky. The young men were fed very little and if one attempted to steal something to eat, yet was unsuccessful, he was beaten up and starved even