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Kings of Sparta

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Kings of Sparta

This list of kings of Sparta details the important rulers of the Greek city-state of Sparta in the Peloponnesus. Sparta was unusual among Greek city-states in that it maintained its kingship past the Archaic age. It was even more unusual in that it had two kings simultaneously, called Arkhagêtai,[1] coming from two separate lines. According to tradition, the two lines, the Agiads and Eurypontids, were respectively descended from the twins Eurysthenes and Procles, the descendants of Heracles who supposedly conquered Sparta two generations after the Trojan War. The dynasties themselves, however, were named after the twins' grandsons, the kings Agis I and Eurypon, respectively. The Agiad line was regarded as being senior to the Eurypontid line.[2] Although there are lists of the earlier purported Kings of Sparta, there is little evidence for the existence of any kings before the middle of the 6th century BC or so. Spartan kings received a recurring posthumous hero cult like that of the Dorian kings of Cyrene.[3] The kings' firstborns sons, as heirs apparent, were the only Spartan boys expressly exempt from the Agoge, however they were allowed to take part if they so wished, and this endowed them with increased prestige when they ascended the throne.

Legendary kings

The ancient Greeks named males after their fathers, producing a patronymic by infixing -id-; for example, the sons of Atreus were the Atreids. In the case of royal houses the patronymic formed from the founder or an early significant figure became the name of the dynasty. A ruling family might in this way have a number of dynastic names; for example, Agis I named the Agiads, but he was a Heraclid, and so were his descendants.

In cases where the descent was not known or was scantily known the Greeks made a few standard assumptions based on their cultural ideology. A people was treated as a tribe, presumed to have descended from an ancestor bearing its name. He must have been a king, who founded a dynasty of his name. This mythologizing extended even to place names. They were presumed to have been named after kings and divinities. Kings often became divinities, in their religion.


The Lelegid were the descendants of Lelex (a back formation), ancestor of the Leleges, a Pelasgian tribe inhabiting the Eurotas valley before the Greeks, who, according to the mythological descent, amalgamated with the Greeks.

Year Lelegid Other notable information
c. 1600 BC Lelex son of Poseidon or Helios, or he was said to be autochthonous
c. 1575 BC Myles son of Lelex
c. 1550 BC Eurotas son of Myles, father of Sparta


The Lacedaemonids contain Greeks from the age of legend, now treated as being the Bronze Age in Greece. In the language of mythologic descent, the kingship passed from the Leleges to the Greeks.

Year Lacedaemonid Other notable information
c. Lacedaemon son of Zeus, husband of Sparta
c. Amyklas son of Lacedaemon. He founded Amyklai
c. Argalus son of Amyklas
c. Kynortas son of Amyklas
c. Perieres son of Kynortas
c. Oibalos son of Kynortas
c. Tyndareos (First reign); son of Oibalos and father of Helen
c. Hippocoon son of Oibalos and brother of Tyndareos
c. Tyndareos (Second reign)
Years with no dates (only "c.") are unknown


The Atreidai (Latin Atreidae) belong to the Late Bronze Age, or Mycenaean Period. In mythology these were the Perseids. As the name of Atreus is attested in Hittite documents, this dynasty may well be proto-historic.

Year Atreid Other notable information
c. 1250 BC Menelaus son of Atreus and husband of Helen
c. 1200 BC Orestes son of Agamemnon and nephew of Menelaus
c. Tisamenos son of Orestes
c. 1200 BC Dion husband of Iphitea, the daughter of Prognaus
Years with no dates (only "c.") are unknown


The Spartan kings as Heracleidae claimed descent from Heracles, who through his mother was descended from Perseus. Disallowed the Peloponnesus, he embarked on a life of wandering. They became ascendant in the Eurotas valley with the Dorians who, at least in legend, entered it during an invasion called the return of the Heracleidae; driving out the Atreids and at least some of the Mycenaean population.

Year Heraclid Other notable information
c. Aristodemos son of Aristomachus and husband of Argeia
c. Theras (regent) son of Autesion and brother of Aristodemos' wife Argeia;[4] served as regent for his nephews, Eurysthenes and Procles.
Years with no dates (only "c.") are unknown

Agiad dynasty

The dynasty was named after its second king, Agis.

Year Agiad Other notable information
c. 930 BC Eurysthenes Return of the Heracleidae
c. 930 – 900 BC[5] Agis I Subjugated the Helots
c. 900 – 870 BC Echestratus Expelled the Cynurensian[6] that were power.
c. 870 – 840 BC Labotas[7]
c. 840 – 820 BC Doryssus
c. 820 – 790 BC Agesilaus I
c. 760 – 758 BC Teleclus Killed by the Messenians
c. 758 – 741 BC Alcamenes First Messenian War begins
c. 741 – 665 BC Polydorus Second Messenian War begins; Killed by Athenian Archon Polemarchus[8]
c. 665 – 640 BC Eurycrates
c. 640 – 615 BC Anaxander
c. 615 – 590 BC Eurycratides
c. 590 – 560 BC Leon
c. 560 – 520 BC Anaxandridas II Battle of the Fetters
c. 520 – 490 BC Cleomenes I Greco-Persian Wars begins
c. 490 – 480 BC Leonidas I Battle of Thermopylae
c. 480 – 459 BC Pleistarchus First Peloponnesian War begins
c. 459 – 409 BC Pleistoanax Second Peloponnesian War begins
c. 409 – 395 BC Pausanias Helped restore democracy in Athens; Spartan hegemony
c. 395 – 380 BC Agesipolis I Corinthian War begins
c. 380 – 371 BC Cleombrotus I
c. 371 – 369 BC Agesipolis II[9]
c. 369 – 309 BC Cleomenes II Third Sacred War begins
c. 309 – 265 BC Areus I Killed in battle against Aristodemus, the tyrant of Megalopolis.
c. 265 – 262 BC Acrotatus II
c. 262 – 254 BC Areus II[10]
c. 254 – 242 BC Leonidas II
c. 242 – 241 BC Cleombrotus II
c. 241 – 235 BC Leonidas II
c. 235 – 222 BC Cleomenes III

Eurypontid dynasty

The dynasty is named after its third king Eurypon. Not shown is Lycurgus, the lawgiver, a younger son of the Eurypontids, who served a brief regency either for the infant Charilaus (780–750 BC) or for Labotas (870–840 BC) the Agiad.

Year Eurypontid Other notable information
c. 930 BC Procles Return of the Heracleidae
c. 890 BC Soos[11][12] Son of Procles and father of Eurypon
c. 890 – 860 BC Eurypon
c. 860 – 830 BC Prytanis
c. 830 – 800 BC Polydectes
c. 800 – 780 BC Eunomus
c. 780 – 750 BC Charilaus Ward, pupil, and nephew of the Spartan reformer Lycurgus; War with the Argives and destroyed the border-town of Aegys; Battle of Tegea
c. 750 – 725 BC Nicander First Messenian War begins
c. 725 – 675 BC Theopompus Second Messenian War begins
c. 675 – 645 BC Anaxandridas I
c. 645 – 625 BC Zeuxidamus
c. 625 – 600 BC Anaxidamus
c. 600 – 575 BC Archidamus I
c. 575 – 550 BC Agasicles[13] Contemporary with Leonidas I; End of the Messenian Wars.
c. 550 – 515 BC Ariston Battle of the Fetters
c. 515 – 491 BC Demaratus Greco-Persian Wars begins
c. 491 – 469 BC Leotychidas
c. 469 – 427 BC Archidamus II First Peloponnesian War; Second Peloponnesian War begins
c. 427 – 401[14] BC Agis II Spartan hegemony; Attacked Epidaurus, Leuctra,[15] Caryao, Orchomenos, and Mantinela; Invaded the Argolis; Council of war[16] formed to check his powers;
c. 401[14] – 360 BC Agesilaus II Corinthian War begins
c. 360 – 338 BC Archidamus III Third Sacred War begins
c. 338 – 331 BC Agis III
c. 331 – 305 BC Eudamidas I
c. 305 – 275 BC Archidamus IV
c. 275 – 245 BC Eudamidas II
c. 245 – 241 BC Agis IV
c. 241 – 228 BC Eudamidas III
c. 228 – 227 BC Archidamus V
c. 227 – 221 BC Eucleidas Actually an Agiad installed by Cleomenes III[17] in place of Archidamus V.

Republic monarchy

Following Cleomenes III's defeat against Antigonus III Doson of Macedon and the Achaean League in the Battle of Sellasia, the Spartan system began to break down. Sparta was a republic from 221 to 219 BC. The dual monarchy was restored in 219 BC.

Year Monarch Other notable information
c. 219 – 215 BC Agesipolis III last Agiad, deposed by Lycurgus
c. 219 – 210 BC Lycurgus
c. 210 – 206 BC Pelops son of Lycurgus and last king from either of the old dynasties


Year Tyrants Other notable information
c. 210–207 BC Machanidas regent for Pelops
c. 206–192 BC Nabis first regent for Pelops, then usurper, claiming descent from the Eurypontid king Demaratus
c. 192 BC Laconicus last known king of Sparta

The Achaean League annexed Sparta in 192 BC.

Further reading

  • The Cyclopædia, Volume 20. By Abraham Rees. Page 164).
  • Sir William Smith, A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology, and Geography: Partly Based Upon the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Harper & Brothers, 1851.
  • Sir William Smith. Abaeus-Dysponteus. J. Murray, 1890.
  • Sir William Smith. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: Earinus-Nyx. J. Murray, 1876.
  • William Smith (Ed.) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: Oarses-Zygia. J. Murray, 1880.

Citations and notes

External links

  • Livius
  • Eurypontids and Agiads by Jona Lendering

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