Although Athenian, Xenophon seems to have liked the Spartan ways and he missed no chance to write about them in a positive and exemplary manner, with an exception in chapter 14 of the present work… He has also written about the Constitution of the Athenians, but his Spartan sympathy is obvious. King Lycurgus, very prominently present from the beginning through the end, is considered an “ultimately very wise man”. No wonder that his name, laws, thoughts and decisions are explicitly stated time and again.
You can read a concise biography here or here.
After clearly noticing a positive difference between Spartans and citizens of other city-states, Xenophon ponders on the cause. He begins by daring to divert from the current views about the best, or right conduct and juxtaposes the Spartans’ behaviour, mentality and laws with those of others.
First things first, he starts by stating his opinions on childbearing. One will wonder, while listening to (or reading) the text, on how different or even revolutionary the approach of the Spartans has been towards matters that still concern us today. His, or the Spartans’, ideas may surprise us, but «ὁ βουλόμενος ἐπισκοπείτω.» (quote Xenophon, “whoever wills, might examine.”)
For more information you can read here or an interesting paper of Paul Christensen on Academia.
Text & Audio book
If you don’t already have the text and wish following it while listening, please click here: for the Greek original, or here: for an English translation.
This is also the main text used for the recording, with some minor editing, when necessary for correcting obvious orthographic or other mistakes.