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(3rd century BC) Greece

Spartan ephor

Spartan aristocrat


Xenares was one of the ephors who came into office in 421 BC. Being opposed to the truce which had been made with Athens for fifty years, he and his colleague Cleobulus intrigued with the Boeotians and Corinthians to reconstruct the Lacedaemonian league, and to strengthen it by the addition of Argos.

If this could have been effected, Sparta would have had nothing to fear from the renewal of war with Athens: but the scheme failed in consequence of the secrecy necessary in its preliminary steps.

Xenares was the lover of the young Cleomenes III, before the boy became king of Sparta.

At Sparta the practice for every youth of good character was to have his lover; on the other hand every well-educated man was bound by custom to be the lover of some youth. The man was called eispnelas and his affection for the boy was termed a "breathing in", or "inspiring" (eispnein). Correspondingly, the youth was called aitas i.e. "listener" or "hearer".

The connection usually originated from the proposal of the man; yet it was necessary that the boy should accept him with real affection, as a regard to the riches of the proposer was considered very disgraceful. Sometimes, however, it happened that the proposal originated from the boy.

The connection appears to have been 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; in battle too 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 as it were a model and pattern of life; which explains why, for many faults, particularly want of ambition, the man could be punished instead of the boy.


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