List of kings of Sparta

Sparta

Zeus on his throne with his eagle

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This list of kings of Sparta details the important rulers of the Greek city-state of Sparta in the Peloponnesus. Sparta was unusual among Greek city-states in that it maintained its kingship past the Archaic age. It was even more unusual in that it had two kings simultaneously, called Archagetai,[1][n 1] coming from two separate lines. According to tradition, the two lines, the Agiads and Eurypontids, were respectively descended from the twins Eurysthenes and Procles, the descendants of Heracles who supposedly conquered Sparta two generations after the Trojan War. The dynasties themselves, however, were named after the twins' grandsons, the kings Agis I and Eurypon, respectively. The Agiad line was regarded as being senior to the Eurypontid line.[3] Although there are lists of the earlier purported Kings of Sparta, there is little evidence for the existence of any kings before the middle of the 6th century BC or so. Spartan kings received a recurring posthumous hero cult like that of the Dorian kings of Cyrene.[4] The kings' firstborns sons, as heirs apparent, were the only Spartan boys expressly exempt from the Agoge, however they were allowed to take part if they so wished, and this endowed them with increased prestige when they ascended the throne.

Legendary kings

The ancient Greeks named males after their fathers, producing a patronymic by infixing -id-; for example, the sons of Atreus were the Atreids. In the case of royal houses the patronymic formed from the founder or an early significant figure became the age of the dynasty. A ruling family might in this way have a number of dynastic names; for example, Agis I named the Agiads, but he was a Heraclid, and so were his descendants.

In cases where the descent was not known or was scantily known the Greeks made a few standard assumptions based on their cultural ideology. A people was treated as a tribe, presumed to have descended from an ancestor bearing its name. He must have been a king, who founded a dynasty of his name. This mythologizing extended even to place names. They were presumed to have been named after kings and divinities. Kings often became divinities, in their religion.

Lelegids

The Lelegid were the descendants of Lelex (a back formation), ancestor of the Leleges, a Pelasgian tribe inhabiting the Eurotas valley before the Greeks, who, according to the mythological descent, amalgamated with the Greeks.

YearLelegidOther notable information
c. 1600 BCLelexson of Poseidon or Helios, or he was said to be autochthonous
c. 1575 BCMylesson of Lelex
c. 1550 BCEurotasson of Myles, father of Sparta

Lacedaemonids

The Lacedaemonids contain Greeks from the age of legend, now treated as being the Bronze Age in Greece. In the language of mythologic descent, the kingship passed from the Leleges to the Greeks.

YearLacedaemonidOther notable information
c.Lacedaemonson of Zeus, husband of Sparta
c.Amyklasson of Lacedaemon. He founded Amyklai
c.Argalusson of Amyklas
c.Kynortasson of Amyklas
c.Perieresson of Kynortas
c.Oibalosson of Kynortas
c.Tyndareos(First reign); son of Oibalos and father of Helen
c.Hippocoonson of Oibalos and brother of Tyndareos
c.Tyndareos(Second reign)
Years with no dates (only "c.") are unknown

Atreids

The Atreidai (Latin Atreidae) belong to the Late Bronze Age, or Mycenaean Period. In mythology these were the Perseides. As the name of Atreus is attested in Hittite documents, this dynasty may well be proto-historic.

YearAtreidOther notable information
c. 1250 BCMenelausson of Atreus and husband of Helen
c. 1150's BCOrestesson of Agamemnon and nephew of Menelaus
c.Tisamenosson of Orestes
c. 1100 BCDionhusband of Iphitea, the daughter of Prognaus
Years with no dates (only "c.") are unknown

Heraclids

The Spartan kings as Heracleidae claimed descent from Heracles, who through his mother was descended from Perseus. Disallowed the Peloponnesus, he embarked on a life of wandering. They became ascendant in the Eurotas valley with the Dorians who, at least in legend, entered it during an invasion called the return of the Heracleidae; driving out the Atreids and at least some of the Mycenaean population.

YearHeraclidOther notable information
c.Aristodemosson of Aristomachus and husband of Argeia
c.Theras (regent)son of Autesion and brother of Aristodemus's wife Argeia;[n 2] served as regent for his nephews, Eurysthenes and Procles.
Years with no dates (only "c.") are unknown

Agiad dynasty

The dynasty was named after its second king, Agis.

YearAgiadOther notable information
c. 930 BCEurysthenesReturn of the Heracleidae
c. 930 – 900 BC[n 3]Agis ISubjugated the Helots
c. 900 – 870 BCEchestratusExpelled the Cynurensians[n 4] that were in power.
c. 870 – 840 BCLabotas[n 5]
c. 840 – 820 BCDoryssus
c. 820 – 790 BCAgesilaus I
c. 790 – 760 BCArchelaus
c. 760 – 758 BCTeleclusKilled by the Messenians
c. 758 – 741 BCAlcamenesFirst Messenian War begins
c. 741 – 665 BCPolydorusFirst Messenian War ends; killed by the Spartan nobleman Polemarchus[5]
c. 665 – 640 BCEurycrates
c. 640 – 615 BCAnaxander
c. 615 – 590 BCEurycratides
c. 590 – 560 BCLeon
c. 560 – 520 BCAnaxandridas IIBattle of the Fetters
c. 520 – 490 BCCleomenes IGreco-Persian Wars begins
c. 490 – 480 BCLeonidas IBattle of Thermopylae
c. 480 – 459 BCPleistarchusFirst Peloponnesian War begins
c. 459 – 409 BCPleistoanaxSecond Peloponnesian War begins
c. 409 – 395 BCPausaniasHelped restore democracy in Athens; Spartan hegemony
c. 395 – 380 BCAgesipolis ICorinthian War begins
c. 380 – 371 BCCleombrotus I
c. 371 – 369 BCAgesipolis II[n 6]
c. 369 – 309 BCCleomenes IIThird Sacred War begins
c. 309 – 265 BCAreus IKilled in battle against Aristodemus, the tyrant of Megalopolis
c. 265 – 262 BCAcrotatus II
c. 262 – 254 BCAreus II[6]
c. 254 – 242 BCLeonidas IIBriefly deposed while in exile avoiding trial
c. 242 – 241 BCCleombrotus II
c. 241 – 235 BCLeonidas II
c. 235 – 222 BCCleomenes IIIExiled after the Battle of Sellasia
Following the Battle of Sellasia, the dual monarchy remained vacant until Cleomenes III's death in 219.
c. 219 – 215 BCAgesipolis IIIlast Agiad, deposed by the Eurypontid Lycurgus

Eurypontid dynasty

The dynasty is named after its third king Eurypon. Not shown is Lycurgus, the lawgiver, a younger son of the Eurypontids, who served a brief regency either for the infant Charilaus (780–750 BC) or for Labotas (870–840 BC) the Agiad.

YearEurypontidOther notable information
c. 930 BCProclesReturn of the Heracleidae
c. 890 BCSoos[n 7][7]Son of Procles and father of Eurypon.
c. 890 – 860 BCEurypon
c. 860 – 830 BCPrytanis
c. 830 – 800 BCPolydectes
c. 800 – 780 BCEunomus
c. 780 – 750 BCCharilausWard and nephew of the Spartan reformer Lycurgus; War with the Argives; destroyed the border-town of Aegys; Battle of Tegea.
c. 750 – 725 BCNicander
c. 725 – 675 BCTheopompusFirst Messenian War
Currently known two lists of kings:
YearEurypontidOther notable information
c. 575 – 550 BCAgasiclesContemporary with Leon
c. 550 – 515 BCAristonBattle of the Fetters.
c. 515 – 491 BCDemaratusdeposed
c. 491 – 469 BCLeotychidas IIgreat grandson of Hippocratidas, Greco-Persian Wars
c. 469 – 427 BCArchidamus IISecond Peloponnesian War begins
c. 427 – 401 BC[n 8]Agis IISpartan hegemony; Attacked Epidaurus, Leuctra,[n 9] Caryae, Orchomenos, and Mantineia; Invaded the Argolis; Council of war[n 10] formed to check his powers.
c. 401[n 8] – 360 BCAgesilaus IICorinthian War begins
c. 360 – 338 BCArchidamus IIIThird Sacred War begins
c. 338 – 331 BCAgis III
c. 331 – 305 BCEudamidas I
c. 305 – 275 BCArchidamus IV
c. 275 – 245 BCEudamidas II
c. 245 – 241 BCAgis IV
c. 241 – 228 BCEudamidas III
c. 228 – 227 BCArchidamus V
c. 227 – 222 BCEucleidasActually an Agiad; installed by Cleomenes III[n 11] in place of Archidamus V. Died in the Battle of Sellasia.
Following the Battle of Sellasia, the dual monarchy remained vacant until Cleomenes III's death in 219.
c. 219 – 210 BCLycurgusdeposes the Agiad Agesipolis III and ruled alone
c. 210 – 206 BCPelopsson of Lycurgus

Sole kings

YearTyrantsOther notable information
c. 210–207 BCMachanidasregent for Pelops
c. 206–192 BCNabisfirst regent for Pelops, then usurper, claiming descent from the Eurypontid king Demaratus
c. 192 BCLaconicuslast known king of Sparta from Heraclid dynasty

The Achaean League annexed Sparta in 192 BC.

Notes and references

Notes
  1. Greek: ἀρχαγέται, archagétai, plural of ἀρχαγέτας, archagétas, Doric form of ἀρχηγέτης, archēgétēs.[2]
  2. A Cadmid of Theban descent.
  3. According to Apollodorus of Athens.
  4. Cynuria is said to have been colonized by Cynurus; Cynurensian bandits were common in the lands.
  5. Or Labotes, Leobotes.
  6. Agesilaus II, distinguished king of Sparta, being asked which was the greater virtue, valor or justice, replied: "Unsupported by justice, valor is good for nothing; and if all men were just, there would be no need of valor".
  7. Of Sous is related an anecdote, which, though it manifest great patience and resolution, contains one of those deceptions which Cicero justly censures as inconsistent with integrity of mind. Being surrounded by his enemies in a spot where his army suffered very severely for want of water, he made a treaty with them, promising to restore all the places he had taken from them, on condition that he and all his men should drink of a spring at a small distance from the camp. Which treaty being ratified, he first endeavoured by the offer of no less a reward than his kingdom to prevail on some one of his soldiers to refrain from drinking; but when they all refused, he himself only sprinkled some water on his face, and then, as not having drunk, refused to perform the stipulated condition of restoring the places which he had taken: thus by a base evasion depriving his enemies of the benefit to which they were entitled by permitting him and his army to have access to the fountain to drink, if they would.
  8. 1 2 Or 427 – 400 BC.
  9. And again, after the Carnean festival.
  10. Consisting of 10 Spartans.
  11. I.e. Eucleidas's brother.
References
  1. Hall, Johnathan. A History of the Ancient Greek World. Blackwell.
  2. ἀρχαγέτας, ἀρχηγέτης. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  3. Cartledge, Paul, The Spartans, Vintage Books, 2003.
  4. Pindar and the cult of heroes. By Bruno Currie Page 245 ISBN 0-19-927724-9.
  5. A Classical Dictionary By John Lemprière. Pg 618.
  6. A Prosopography of Lacedaemonians, Part 396. By Alfred S. Bradford. Page 44.
  7. Edward William Whitaker. A Complete System of Universal History, Volume 1. 1821. Pg 417.

Further reading

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