The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

The Archaia Moira: a suggestion

J. F. Lazenbya1

a1 University of Newcastle upon Tyne

In discussions of the complex and controversial problem of Spartan land-tenure,1 the mysterious ‘ρχαxs1FD6α μοxs1FD6ρα’ (archaia moira) has assumed an importance out of all proportion to its prominence in the sources, for the actual phrase only occurs once in extant literature. It owes its importance to the fact that the reference to it has been used to support the theory that there were two categories of land in Sparta, a theory which in turn is held to explain how, when all Spartans supposedly owned equal estates, there could nevertheless be rich ones and poor ones, as authors such as Herodotos, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Aristotle make clear. The answer, it is claimed, is that although all Spartans possessed an equal share of one category of land, they could own more or less of the other category.2