The idea of a Utopia is, even in literature, far older than More's romance; it appears in the Timaeus of Plato and is fully developed in his Republic. The idealized description of Sparta in Plutarch's life of Lycurgus belongs to the same class of literary Utopias, though it professes to be historical.
The arrangements of the stage and orchestra as we now see them belong to Roman times; the cavea or auditorium dates from the administration of the orator Lycurgus (337-323 B.C.), and nothing is left of the theatre in which the plays of Sophocles were acted save a few small remnants of polygonal masonry.
Nevertheless, it is not probable that without the training introduced by Lycurgus the Spartans would have been successful in securing their supremacy in Laconia, much less in the Peloponnese, for they formed a small immigrant band face to face with a large and powerful Achaean and autochthonous population.
Again, the account of the Hipparchus is contradicted by Diogenes Laertius, who says that Solon provided for the due recitation of the Homeric poems. The only good authorities as to this point are the orators Lycurgus and Isocrates, who mention the law prescribing the recitation, but do not say when or by whom it was enacted.
According to a tradition, possibly more authentic, they were re-established by Iphitus, king of Elis, in concert with the Spartan Lycurgus and Cleosthenes of Pisa.
Aristotle says that the ephors of each year on entering office declared war on the helots so that they might be put to death at any time without violating religious scruple (Plutarch, Lycurgus 28), and we have a well-attested record of 2000 helots being freed for service in war and then secretly assassinated (Thuc. iv.
The orators Lycurgus and Isocrates make a great deal of the recitation of Homer at the Panathenaea, but know nothing of the poems having been collected and arranged at Athens, a fact which would have redounded still more to the honour of the city.
Partly owing to this, and partly to ancient feuds whose origin we cannot trace, the Athenian people was split up into three great factions known as the Plain (Pedieis) led by Lycurgus and Miltiades, both of noble families; the Shore (Parali) led by the Alcmaeonidae, represented at this time by Megacles, who was strong in his wealth and by his recent marriage with Agariste, daughter of Cleisthenes of Sicyon; the Hill or Upland (Diacreis, Diacrii) led by Peisistratus, who no doubt owed his influence among these hillmen partly to the possession of large estates at Marathon.
According to the Spartans, the image of Artemis was transported by Orestes and Iphigeneia to Laconia, where the goddess was worshipped as Artemis Orthia, the human sacrifices originally offered to her being abolished by Lycurgus and replaced by the flogging of youths (diamastigosis, Pausan.
Plutarch speaks of his intercourse with the deity, and compares him with Lycurgus and Numa (Numa, 4).