Classical Quarterly 38 (1-2):1-9 (1944)

Plutarch concludes his chapter on the Rhetra with six lines of Tyrtaios: φοβου κοςσαντες Πυθωνθεν οκαδ' νεικαν1 μαντεας τε θεο κα τελεντ' πεα ρχειν μν βουλῦς θεοτιμτους βασιλας οσι μλει Σπρτας μερεσσα πλις πρεσβτας τε γροντας, πειτα δ δημτας νδρας πθεαις τραις ντααπαμειβομνους. These lines are quoted to confirm Plutarch's statement, that the Kings who added the last clause to the Rhetra ‘persuaded the city [to accept this addition] on the grounds that it was part of the God's command'. On Plutarch's view, the two Kings added an extra clause to an oracle, and justified their action by alleging that Delphi had authorized the clause. It is not immediately obvious how Tyrtaios’ lines confirm this view. The Delphic utterance whose substance is given in lines 3–6 approximately paraphrases parts of Clauses I and I I, but where is Clause III? The burden has to be borne by the one word εθεαις: ‘the Kings and gerontes shall initiate business, the demos shall reply with undistorted rhetrai’ or ‘shall respond to the rhetrai without distorting them’. If εθεαις is given enough weight, the oracle which Tyrtaios quotes may be held to forbid the ‘excessive amendment’ against which Clause III was aimed.
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