Today, with the help of linguistics and archaeology, critical scholarship is a little more able to distinguish between history and legend - though even now modern historians disagree widely, and essential questions are still unanswered. Most of what we can say about early Sparta remains hypothetical, and will probably always remain so. I shall try to find a path between the few facts and the many possibilities and assumptions with which ancient tradition and modern scholarship tend to illuminate (or to obscure) Spartan history, but I am well aware that my reconstruction may seem to some people no more satisfactory than all the rest.2