Thanks to Herodotos, Cleomenes I is one of the earliest Spartan characters who
are more than mere names. The Herodotean evidence does not allow us to decide
whether Cleomenes was mad, but it gives us very interesting indications on
Spartan politics in the late archaic period. Two salient facts apprear: 1)the
importance of the popular assembly 2)the predominance of one of the two
The list of the Spartan kings’ gšrea in Hdt. VI 56-58 is both precise and ambiguous.
Till 506, the two Spartan kings may have had the right to decide a war if
they agreed with each other; when they disagreed – and they often disagreed –,
the damos had to decide. Anyway, the two kings led the Spartan army together.
After the dicostas…a of Eleusis in 506, the Spartans voted a new law laying down
that one king only should lead the expeditions abroad. This reform still increases
the inequality between the two kings: one of them, the more popular who
inspires Spartan foreign policy, is also chosen as war-leader, while the other king
–Demaratos between 506 and 491 for instance – only celebrates sacrifices at