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fox cub

The Spartan boy and the fox: a fox cub

The Roman writer Plutarch, who wrote about 75 BC, told this story about the Spartans:

“So seriously did Spartan children go about their stealing, that a boy, having stolen a young fox and hid it under his cloak, let it tear out his guts with its teeth and claws and died right there, rather than let it be seen.”

(from Plutarch’s essay on Lycurgus 18. 1).

Why did Spartan children steal? Why would they be afraid of being caught?

Learn by doing: write a different ending to this story.

More about the Spartans

Bibliography and further reading about the story of the Spartan boy and the fox:

Plutarch’s Lives Volume 1 (Modern Library Classics) by Plutarch , translated by Arthur Hugh Clough. Includes the biography of Lycugus that has the fox story in it.

The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, from Utopia to Crisis and Collapse, by Paul Cartledge (2003). This is pretty hard going, but Cartledge knows everything about ancient Sparta.

More about ancient Sparta
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