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Aristodamus Ii And His Aunty

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#1 LaurieAG



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Posted 24 July 2013 - 03:35 AM

Please note that the forum title should say Archidamus not Aristodamus.

I have been reading Xenophon's 'Hellenica' and Pausania's 'Guide to Greece' with respect to Archidamus and have come up with some interesting details. Both these ancient writers used contemporary sources for their works and the translators add plenty of footnotes as a result of modern day historical research so discrepancies are noticeable.

It is said, too, that he went along the lines and encouraged the men in the following words: 'Fellow-citizens, we must now show what we can do and so be able to to look people in the face. Let us leave to those who come after us the Sparta which we received from our fathers. Let there now be an end to our feeling ashamed of ourselves before our wives and our children and the older men and the foreigners - we who were once the admiration of the whole of Greece!'
When the battle was over and he had put up a trophy, Archidamus at once sent Demoteles the herald to Sparta to report how great a victory had been won and how, though vast numbers of the enemy had fallen, not a single Spartan had been killed. They say, too, that when the people in Sparta heard the news they all burst into tears, beginning with Agesilaus and the members of the Council and the ephors. And it seems that tears can equally express both joy and sorrow.

It seems possible that the person who Xenophon referred to as Aristodamus (II) king of Sparta in the above quote may actually have been Kyniska, sister of King Agesilaus (II) and daughter of the spartan king Aristodamus who was the grandfather of Aristodamus (II).

The wiki's seem to have missed out this spartan king, also called Archidamus, who was Archidamus II's grandfather, and seem to refer to him as Archidamus I but the original Archidamus I was king in 668 bc, much too old to be the grandfather of Archidamus II. This grandfather Archidamus had 2 sons, eldest Agis (II) (half brother first wife), youngest Agesilaus (II) (half brother second wife), and a daughter Kyniska (sister of Agesilaus II) who was born around 440 bc according to the wiki, much too early to be Archidamus II's daughter. The wiki doesn't say who her mother was and there is much confusion about her father so she could have been born up to 20 years later than 440 bc.

So it is possible that Kyniska, 'female puppy', was not Archidamus II's daughter but his aunty and the sister of his father and ruling King Agesilaus II who is referred to in the above quote. Kyniska was the first woman to win Olympic victories in 396 and 392 bc for horse racing and even the wiki has 2 different reasons for that. While Archidamus II was the only Spartan king who had no grave according to Pausanias (he died in Italy in 338 bc) Kyniska had a divine hero's shrine due to her Olympic victory?

Further, Aristodamus II was in love with the son of Sphodrias, a Spartan general who took a bribe, and asked his father King Agesilaus II to acquit him in 378 bc due to his relationship with his son. The battle referred to in the quote was somewhere between 368 and 366 bc and many of the military sections refer to leading citizen armys, not regular Spartan arnies, and no battles up until the quote.

There are many obvious discrepancies and inconsistencies about this whole period so it may be possible that she was acting for the future king Archidamus II on behalf of her brother king Agesilaus II. I'm surprised that nobody has looked into this.


While most women in the ancient Greek world were kept in seclusion and forbidden to learn any kind of skills in sports, riding or hunting, Spartan women by contrast were brought up from girlhood to excel at these things so as to produce strong children, by going through early training similar to that of their brothers.


Edited by LaurieAG, 26 July 2013 - 01:47 AM.

#2 LaurieAG



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Posted 26 July 2013 - 01:43 AM

I have just come across an interesting quote in the Olympic statues section in Pausiana's 'Guide to Greece'.

There are dedications to Archidamos son of Agesilaos and someone as a huntsman

The translator, Peter Levi, says the following in the footnotes.

Archidamos III reigned from 359 to 338

Archidamos III died in 338 in Italy according to the translator Peter Levi's footnotes so this Archidamos must be the one who the wiki refers to as Archidamos II. Note Pausanias uses the spelling Agesilaos and Xenophon uses Agesilaus.

As none of the Spartan kings called Archidamos won Olympic events and Kyniska was also known as a hunter these statues and their location are unusual.