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Luxurity, austerity and equality in Sparta

Van Wees, JGB; (2017) Luxurity, austerity and equality in Sparta. In: Powell, A, (ed.) A Companion to Sparta. (pp. 202-235). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, NY, USA.

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Abstract

This chapter analyses the ownership and display of wealth in Sparta, reserving the central institution of the public messes for separate discussion. In Aristotle's critical discussion of Sparta, 'inequality of property' was positively singled out as a major flaw in Lykourgos' legislation and a serious problem for Sparta where 'some own far too much property and others extremely little'. The signs of restraint in the display of wealth appeared c.600 BC as part of a reaction across the Greek world to increasing inequality and the development of 'luxurious' lifestyles, but the major movement towards a culture of austerity came at the end of the sixth century. Among social occasions which afforded opportunities for the display of wealth, conspicuous wedding processions and feasts featured prominently in archaic Greek poetry and art. Funerals and graves provided further great opportunities for the display of wealth, and accordingly they were the subject of sumptuary legislation in many Greek city‐states.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Luxurity, austerity and equality in Sparta
ISBN: 1119072395
ISBN-13: 9781119072393
DOI: 10.1002/9781119072379.ch8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119072379.ch8
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: austerity, Greek world, inequality of property, luxurious' lifestyles, Lykourgos' legislation, social occasions, Sparta
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10051782
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