Tyrant King Of Sparta.


Nabis ruled Sparta from 207 BC until 192 BC, the above is a coin of Nabis reign in Sparta.

In the years following the defeat of the reformist king Cleomenes III of Sparta at the Battle of Sellasia (222 BC), Sparta experienced a power vacuum that eventually led to the Spartan kingship being bestowed on a child, Pelops, for whom first Machanidas (d. 207 BC) and then Nabis acted as regents. Nabis, however, soon overthrew Pelops, claiming to be a descendent of the Eurypontid king Demaratus. Although Nabis styled himself as king and is called basileus on his coins, Livy and Polybius refer to him as a tyrant.

Nabis was committed to the reformist program of Cleomenes III and took it to extreme lengths, exiling the wealthy and dividing up their estates. He freed many slaves and made them citizens, but left the institution of helotry in place as part of the Lycurgan system which he was claiming to restore.  The increased citizen body, however, meant that Nabis had more citizen troops for his army, which also included numerous mercenaries. Polybius, who was deeply hostile to Nabis’ revolutionary program, described his supporters as “a crowd of murderers, burglars, cutpurses and highwaymen” (ἀνδροφόνοι καὶ παρασχίσται, λωποδύται, τοιχωρύχοι).

Nabis executed the last descendants of the two Spartan royal dynasties; and the ancient sources, especially Polybius and Livy, depict him as a bloodthirsty ruler who held power through armed force and shocking brutality. Polybius (13.6-7) claims that he would frequently exile the leading citizens of conquered communities and marry their wives to the brigands and freed slaves under his command. Polybius (13.6) in an account that either demonstrates the extent of Nabis’s tyranny or Polybius’s bias, tells how wealthy landowners were often summoned into his presence and forced to pay him large sums of money – those who refused were tortured, supposedly through use of a machine that resembled an Iron Maiden, known as the Apega of Nabis, made after his own wife Queen Apega.


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