People > Demaratus



Demaratus, also known as Demaratus of Sparta, was an ancient Greek statesman and king of Sparta who lived during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. He is primarily known for his involvement in the events surrounding the Persian Wars and his eventual exile from Sparta. Here's an overview of Demaratus and his significance. Demaratus was born into the Eurypontid royal family, one of the two royal houses of Sparta. He belonged to the Agiad dynasty, which claimed descent from Heracles.

Demaratus became one of the two Spartan kings (alongside King Cleomenes I) around 515 BCE, succeeding his father Ariston. Demaratus' reign was marked by political strife and conflict with his co-king, Cleomenes I. Cleomenes I accused Demaratus of being illegitimate, which led to tensions between the two kings. According to Herodotus, during the Persian invasion of Greece led by King Xerxes I, Demaratus provided advice to Xerxes regarding the Greek city-states, including He warned Xerxes about the Spartans' military prowess and the difficulty of subduing them.

Demaratus was eventually accused of collaborating with the Persians, likely due to his earlier interactions with Xerxes. He was subsequently deposed from the throne and went into exile. Demaratus sought refuge in Persia, where he was reportedly treated with honor and given lands and privileges by Xerxes.He may have lived out the rest of his life in Persia, although the details of his later years are unclear.

Demaratus' actions and advice during the Persian Wars, particularly his interactions with Xerxes, are significant in the context of Greek-Persian relations during the 5th century BCE. His warnings about the Spartans' military capabilities reflect the esteem in which Spartan warriors were held in the ancient world. Demaratus' exile from Sparta and his subsequent life in Persia add a tragic dimension to his story. Despite being a Spartan king by birth, he found himself estranged from his homeland and forced to live among its enemies.

Much of what is known about Demaratus comes from the writings of Herodotus, particularly his "Histories." Herodotus' account of Demaratus may contain elements of myth and legend, and some details of his life may be subject to debate.

In summary, Demaratus was a Spartan king who played a role in the events surrounding the Persian Wars and the Greek resistance to the Persian invasion. His interactions with Xerxes and his subsequent exile from Sparta add depth to his story, highlighting the complexities of Greek-Persian relations during this period. Demaratus' life exemplifies the interplay between political intrigue, military conflict, and personal fate in the ancient world.

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