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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 5
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Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 5 Post by :cashgalore Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2900

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Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 5

BOOK IV CHAPTER V

Nothing so largely contributed to the peculiar character of Spartan society as the uniform custom of taking the principal meal at a public table. It conduced to four objects: the precise status of aristocracy, since each table was formed according to title and rank,--equality among aristocrats, since each at the same table was held the equal of the other--military union, for as they feasted so they fought, being formed into divisions in the field according as they messed together at home; and lastly, that sort of fellowship in public opinion which intimate association amongst those of the same rank and habit naturally occasions. These tables in Sparta were supplied by private contributions; each head of a family was obliged to send a certain portion at his own cost, and according to the number of his children. If his fortune did not allow him to do this, he was excluded from the public tables. Hence a certain fortune was indispensable to the pure Spartan, and this was one reason why it was permitted to expose infants, if the family threatened to be too large for the father's means. The general arrangements were divided into syssitia, according, perhaps, to the number of families, and correspondent to the divisions or obes acknowledged by the State. But these larger sections were again subdivided into companies or clubs of fifteen, vacancies being filled up by ballot; but one vote could exclude. And since, as we have said, the companies were marshalled in the field according to their association at the table, it is clear that fathers of grave years and of high station (station in Sparta increased with years) could not have belonged to the same table as the young men, their sons. Their boys under a certain age they took to their own pheiditia, where the children sat upon a lower bench, and partook of the simplest dishes of the fare. Though the cheer at these public tables was habitually plain, yet upon occasion it was enriched by presents to the after-course, of game and fruit.

Lysander was received by his old comrade with that cordiality in which was mingled for the first time a certain manly respect, due to feats in battle, and so flattering to the young.

The prayer to the Gods, correspondent to the modern grace, and the pious libations being concluded, the attendant Helots served the black broth, and the party fell to, with the appetite produced by hardy exercise and mountain air.

"What do the allies say to the black broth?" asked a young Spartan.

"They do not comprehend its merits," answered Lysander.

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Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 6
BOOK IV CHAPTER VIEverything in the familiar life to which he had returned delighted the young Lysander. But for anxious thoughts about Pausanias, he would have been supremely blest. To him the various scenes of his early years brought no associations of the restraint and harshness which revolted the more luxurious nature and the fiercer genius of Pausanias. The plunge into the frigid waters of Eurotas--the sole bath permitted to the Spartans(1) at a time when the rest of Greece had already carried the art of bathing into voluptuous refinement--the sight of the vehement contests of the boys, drawn up as
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BOOK IV CHAPTER IVThe group that attended Lysander continued to swell as he mounted the acclivity on which his parental home was placed. The houses of the Spartan proprietors were at that day not closely packed together as in the dense population of commercial towns. More like the villas of a suburb, they lay a little apart, on the unequal surface of the rugged ground, perfectly plain and unadorned, covering a large space with ample court-yards, closed in, in front of the narrow streets. And still was in force the primitive law which ordained that doorways should be shaped only by
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