I've writen two books about Greece and Rome, introducing each civilization with their most famous authors woven into the narrative. Check them out on their own website!


Important People

Lycurgus – ancient lawgiver, whose biography Plutarch also wrote, and to whom everyone refers constantly in this life as the original set of laws they are trying to hearken back to.

Leonidas – one of two kings of Sparta (along with Agis, the protagonist of this life) who first secretly and then openly resists and thwarts Agis’s reforms at every turn.

Lysander – Not the Lysander who was a contemporary of Agesilaus, but a new Lysander, elected as ephor and one of the main allies for Agis in his implementation of the new Spartan system.

Important Places

Sparta – This is the story of Sparta's last gasp attempt to become an important political and military influence in the Peloponnesus. 


Discretion (or piety?) – εὐλάβεια – Some interesting shades of meaning cover this one. The conventional Greek word for piety is εὐσέβεια (eusebeia), but this less common word can work like our English word pride. That is, it can be considered a vice or a virtue depending on the context. No one wants to be prideful, but we certainly allow and often even encourage people to be proud of the good things they've done for their communities. 

Gentleness – πρᾶον – A common theme we've seen in lives as disparate as Pericles, Aristides, and Aemilius Paullus. Also a contrast to those who lack it like Coriolanus or Pelopidas. Ultimately, the gentle leaders are the greater ones.

 Humane / Kindness – φιλάνθρωπον – Another virtue that shows up often among Plutarch's greatest heroes. This particular virtue seems to be part of Agis's downfall. In what way can our vices be our undoing? Is it like the life of Dion where tyrants feel challenged by virtuous living? Or was it something else? 

Key Vices

  • greed – πλεονεξία (cf. 10)
  • parsimony – μικρολογία
  • luxury – ἀπολαύσει
  • softness – μαλακία (cf. 10)
  • extravagance – πολυτέλεια

Captain Ideas

What is a citizen?

  • A person born and raised in a certain place and manner?
  • Someone who adopts the language, customs, and laws of the land in which they reside?

When and how should citizens fight for regime change? 

When and how should citizens admit defeat and work within an unjust or imperfect system of government? 

When in a leadership position, how does one know to instigate a change? Is every virtue to be insisted upon all the time by the laws? 

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