AMONG the Greeks, philosophy has flourished longest, and is still most abundant, at Crete and Lacedaemon; and there there are more teachers of philosophy than anywhere else in the world. But the Lacedaemonians deny this, and pretend to be unlearned people, lest it should become manifest that it is through philosophy they are supreme in Greece; that they may be thought to owe their supremacy to their fighting and manly spirit, for they think that if the means of their superiority were made known all the Greeks would practise this. But now, by keeping it a secret, they have succeeded in misleading the Laconisers in the various cities of Greece; and in imitation of them these people buffet themselves, and practise gymnastics, and put on boxing-gloves, and wear short cloaks, as if it were by such things that the Lacedaemonians excel all other Greeks. But the Lacedaemonians, when they wish to have intercourse with their philosophers without reserve, and are weary of going to them by stealth, make legal proclamation that those Laconisers should depart, with any other aliens who may be sojourning among them, and thereupon betake themselves to their sophists unobserved by strangers. And you may know that what I say is true, and that the Lacedaemonians are better instructed than all
other people in philosophy and the art of discussion in this way. If any one will converse with even the most insignificant of the
Lacedaemonians, he may find him indeed in the greater part of what he says seemingly but a poor creature; but then at some chance point in the conversation he will throw in some brief compact saying, worthy of remark, like a clever archer, so that his interlocutor shall seem no better than a child. free ebook