I'm writing my thesis on classical Sparta. I've came across a source issue that I can't seem to resolve, and was wondering if anyone has solved it. It is commonly believed by scholars that Spartan kings were exempt from the agoge, but I'm having great difficulty locating the ancient source for this. There appears to be nothing in Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch. I am presently working my way through Polybius and Diodorus, again.... Does anyone have a knowledge of where I might find this evidence?
Ancient Sparta had a government that was very different from the democratic one of Athens. In Sparta there were two hereditary kings, an assembly of the entire body of male Spartan citizens, a council of their elders known as the Gerousia, and five annually elected Ephors. The heirs to the throne seem to be the only males of the Spartan citizen body who were exempted from the rigorous training known as the agoge. This is surprising since kings led their men into battle and so would seem to need the military-style training as much as any. However, it appears to have been the case. Sparta scholar Paul Cartledge refers to it repeatedly. It is mentioned in Plutarch's Life of Agesilaus.
"Archidamus, the son of Zeuxidamus, having reigned gloriously over the Lacedaemonians, left behind him two sons, Agis the elder, begotten of Lampido, a noble lady, Agesilaus, much the younger, born of Eupolia, the daughter of Melesippidas. Now the succession belonging to Agis by law, Agesilaus, who in all probability was to be but a private man, was educated according to the usual discipline of the country, hard and severe, and meant to teach young men to obey their superiors. Whence it was that, men say, Simonides called Sparta "the tamer of men," because by early strictness of education, they, more than any nation, trained the citizens to obedience to the laws, and made them tractable and patient of subjection, as horses that are broken in while colts. The law did not impose this harsh rule on the heirs apparent of the kingdom."Another translation specifying that this training is the agoge:
"Archidamus, the son of Zeuxidamas, after an illustrious reign over the Lacedaemonians, left behind him a son, Agis, by Lampido, a woman of honourable family; and a much younger son, Agesilaüs, by Eupolia, the daughter of Melesippidas. The kingdom belonged to Agis by law, and it was thought that Agesilaüs would pass his life in a private station. He was therefore given the so-called "agoge," or course of public training in Sparta, which, although austere in its mode of life and full of hardships, educated the youth to obedience."
Plut. Ages. 1.1 Plutarch's Lives. with an English Translation by. Bernadotte Perrin. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. London. William Heinemann Ltd. 1917. 5.
Re-stated, another contemporary Spartan historian writes:
"Agesilaus was about forty years old when he succeeded Agis (Xen. Hell. 5.4.13) and, because he was not the heir apparent, had gone through the state-run citizen training (Plut. Ages. 1.2-4)."
Nigel M. Kennell's Spartans A New History, p. 135