A Spartan clan.
Leleges, an ancient race which was spread over Greece, the adjoining
islands, and the Asiatic coast, before the Hellenes. They were so widely diffused
that we must either suppose that their name was descriptive, and applied to several
different tribes, or that it was the name of a single tribe and was afterwards
extended to others. Strabo (vii. p. 322) regarded them as a mixed race, and was
disposed to believe that their name had reference to this (to sullektous gegonenai).
They may probably be looked upon, like the Pelasgians and the other early inhabitants
of Greece, as members of the great Indo-European race, who became gradually incorporated
with the Hellenes, and thus ceased to exist as an independent people.
The most distinct statement of ancient writers on the origin of the Leleges is that of Herodotus, who says that the name of Leleges was the ancient name of the Carians (Herod. i. 171). A later Greek writer considered the Leleges as standing in the same relation to the Carians as the Helots to the Lacedaemonians and the Penestae to the Thessalians. (Athen. vi. p. 271.) In Homer both Leleges and Carians appear as equals, and as auxiliaries of the Trojans. (Il. x. 428.) The Leleges are ruled by Altes, the father-in-law of Priam, and inhabit a town called Pedasus at the foot of Mount Ida. (Il. xxi. 86.) Strabo relates that Leleges and Carians once occupied the whole of Ionia, and that in the Milesian territory and in all Caria tombs and forts of the Leleges were shown. He further says that the two were so intermingled that they were frequently regarded as the same people. (Strab. vii. p. 321, xiii. p. 611.) It would therefore appear that there was some close connection between the Leleges and Carians, though they were probably different peoples. The Leleges seem at one time to have occupied a considerable part of the western coast of Asia Minor. They were the earliest known inhabitants of Samos. (Athen. xv. p. 672.) The connection of the Leleges and the Carians was probably the foundation of the Megarian tradition, that in the twelfth generation after Car, Lelex came over from Egypt to Megara, and gave his name to the people (Paus. i. 39. § 6); but their Egyptian origin was evidently an invention of later times, when it became the fashion to derive the civilisation of Greece from that of Egypt. A grandson of this Lelex is said to have led a colony of Megarian Leleges into Messenia, where they founded Pylus, and remained until they were driven out by Neleus and the Pelasgians from Iolcos; whereupon they took possession of Pylus in Elis. (Paus. v. 36. § 1.) The Lacedaemonian traditions, on the other hand, represented the Leleges as the autochthons of Laconia; they spoke of Lelex as the first native of the soil, from whom the people were called Leleges and the land Lelegia; and the son of this Lelex is said to have been the first king of Messenia. (Paus. iii. 1. § 1, iv. 1. § § 1, 5.) Aristotle seems to have regarded Leucadia, or the western parts of Acarnania, as the original seats of the Leleges; for, according to this writer, Lelex was the autochthon of Leucadia, and from him were descended the Teleboans, the ancient inhabitants of the Taphian islands. He also regarded them as the same people as the Locrians, in which he appears to have followed the authority of Hesiod, who spoke of them as the subjects of Locrus, and as produced from the stones with which Deucalion repeopled the earth after the deluge. (Strab. vii. pp. 321, 322.) Hence all the inhabitants of Mount Parnassus, Locrians, Phocians, Boeotians, and others, are sometimes described as Leleges. (Comp. Dionys. Hal. i. 17.) (See Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. i. p. 42, seq.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
(Heilotai), and Helotes (Heilotes). The Helots or bondsmen of the
Spartans. The common account of the origin of this class is, that the inhabitants
of the maritime town of Helos were reduced by Sparta to this state of degradation,
after an insurrection against the Dorians already established in power. This explanation,
however, rests merely on an etymology, and that by no means probable. The word
Heilos is probably a derivative from helein in a passive sense, and consequently
means "a prisoner"- a derivation known in ancient times. It seems likely
that they were an aboriginal race, which was subdued at a very early period, and
which immediately passed over as slaves to the Doric conquerors. In speaking of
the condition of the Helots, their political rights and their personal treatment
will be considered under different heads, though in fact the two subjects are
very nearly connected.
The first were doubtless exactly defined by law and custom, though the expressions made use of by ancient authors are frequently vague and ambiguous. "They were," says Ephorus, "in a certain point of view public slaves. Their possessor could neither liberate them nor sell them beyond the borders." From this it is evident that they were considered as belonging properly to the State, which to a certain degree permitted them to be possessed by individuals, reserving to itself the power of enfranchising them. But to sell them out of the country was not in the power even of the State; and such an event seems never to have occurred. It is, upon the whole, most probable that individuals had no power to sell them at all, as they belonged chiefly to the landed property, and this was inalienable. On these lands they had certain fixed dwellings of their own, and particular services and payments were prescribed to them. They paid as rent a fixed measure of corn; not, however, like the Perioeci, to the State, but to their masters. As this quantity had been definitely settled at a very early period, the Helots were the persons who profited by a good, and lost by a bad, harvest, which must have been to them an encouragement to industry and good husbandry, as would not have been the case if the profit and loss had merely affected the landlords. In fact, by this means, as is proved by the accounts respecting the Spartan agriculture, a careful cultivation of the soil was kept up. By means of the rich produce of the lands, and in part by plunder obtained in war, they collected a considerable property, to the attainment of which almost every access was closed to the Spartans. The cultivation of the land, however, was not the only duty of the Helots; they also, at the public meals, attended upon their masters, who, according to the Lacedaemonian principle of a community of property, mutually lent them to one another. A large number of them was also employed by the State in public works. In the field the Helots never served as hoplites, except in extraordinary cases; and then it was the general practice afterwards to give them their liberty. This seems first to have occurred under Brasidas in B.C. 424. On other occasions they attended the regular army as light-armed troops (psiloi); and that their numbers were very considerable may be seen from the battle of Plataea, in which 5000 Spartans were attended by 35,000 Helots. Although they did not share the honour of the heavy-armed soldiers, they were in turn exposed to a less degree of danger; for, while the former, in close rank, received the onset of the enemy with spear and shield, the Helots, armed only with their slings and javelins, were in a moment either before or behind the ranks, as Tyrtaeus accurately describes the relative duties of the light-armed soldier (gumnes) and the hoplite. Sparta, in her better days, is never recorded to have unnecessarily sacrificed the lives of her Helots. A certain number of them were allotted to each Spartan. At the battle of Plataea this number was seven. Those who were assigned to a single master were probably called ampittares. Of these, however, one in particular was the servant (therapon) of his master, as in the story of the blind Spartan, who was conducted by his Helot into the thickest of the battle of Thermopylae, and, while the latter fled, fell with the other heroes. It appears that the other Helots were in the field placed more immediately under the command of the king than the rest of the army. In the fleet they composed the large mass of the sailors, in which service at Athens the inferior citizens and slaves were employed. It is a matter of much greater difficulty to form a clear notion of the treatment of the Helots, and of their manner of life; for the rhetorical spirit with which later historians have embellished their views has been productive of much confusion and misconception. Myron of Priene, in his account of the Messenian War, drew a very dark picture of Sparta, and endeavoured at the end to rouse the feelings of his readers by a description of the fate which the conquered underwent. "The Helots," says he, "perform for the Spartans every ignominious service. They are compelled to wear a cap of dog's skin (kune), to have a covering of sheep's skin (diphthera), and are severely beaten every year without having committed any fault, in order that they may never forget they are slaves. In addition to this, those among them who, either by their stature or their beauty, raise themselves above the condition of a slave, are condemned to death, and the masters who do not destroy the most manly of them are liable to punishment." Myron's statements, however, are to be received with considerable caution.
Plutarch relates that the Helots were compelled to intoxicate themselves, and to perform indecent dances, as a warning to the Spartan youth. Yet Helot women discharged the office of nurse in the royal palaces, and doubtless obtained the affection with which the attendants of early youth were honoured in ancient times. It is, however, certain that the Doric laws did not bind servants to strict temperance; and hence examples of drunkenness among them might well have served as a means of recommending sobriety. It was also an established regulation that the national songs and dances of Sparta were forbidden to the Helots, who, on the other hand, had some extravagant and lascivious dances peculiar to themselves, which may have given rise to the above report. It was the curse of this bondage, which Plato terms the hardest in Greece, that the slaves abandoned their masters when they stood in greatest need of their assistance; and hence the Spartans were even compelled to stipulate in treaties for aid against their own subjects. A more favourable side of the Spartan system of bondage is seen in the fact that a legal way to liberty and citizenship stood open to the Helots. The many intermediate steps seem to prove the existence of a regular mode of transition from the one rank to the other. The Helots who were esteemed worthy of an especial confidence were called argeioi; the aphetai were probably released from all service. The desposionautai, who served in the fleets, resembled probably the freedmen of Attica, who were called "the out-dwellers" (hoi choris oikountes). When they received their liberty, they also obtained permission to dwell where they wished, and probably, at the same time, a portion of land was granted them without the lot of their former masters. After they had been in possession of liberty for some time, they appear to have been called neodamodeis, the number of whom soon came near to that of the citizens. The mothones or mothakes were Helots, who, being brought up together with the young Spartans, obtained freedom without the rights of citizenship.
The number of the Helots has been estimated by K. O. Muller and Schomann as having been some 225,000 at the time of the battle of Plataea, as against an estimated total population of 380,000 or 400,000.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Apr 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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