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Agesilaos
(446 - 362 BC) Greece

Agesilaos

Spartan king

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Born in thre royal family od the Euripontides, Agesilaos, while he still belonged to the herd (agele) of youths, was the lover of Lysander, and himself had in his turn also a lover.

Around year 400 BC, with the help of Lysander, he became king of Sparta. He wan the Persians in Sardi (395) but had to go back to Sparta, attacked by the coalition of Athen, Corinth and Thebes, fighting the battle of Mantinaea (362). He went to Egypt to find some help and there he died.

At Sparta the elder lover was called eispnelas and his affection was termed "a breathing in," or "inspiring" (eispnein), which expresses the pure and mental connection between the two persons, and corresponds with the name of the younger lover, aitas i.e., "listener" or "hearer". It appears to have been the practice for every youth of good character and good family to have his lover. On the other hand every well-educated man was bound by custom to be the lover of some youth.

The connection usually originated from the proposal of the older lover; yet it was necessary that the younger one accepted him with real affection, as a regard to the riches of the proposer was considered very disgraceful. Anyway at times it happened that the proposal originated from the younger party.

The relation was very intimate and faithful, and was recognized by the State. If his relations were absent, the youth might be represented in the public assembly by his lover. Also in battle they stood near one another, where their fidelity and affection were often shown till death. While at home the youth was constantly under the eyes of his lover, who was to him a model and pattern of life. This explains why, for many faults, particularly want of ambition, the older lover could be punished instead of the younger one.

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