29

"Spartan" is an adjective derived from Sparta, an ancient Greek city-state famous for its austerity. The adjective is used today to mean basic and minimal. I'm looking for an antonym, i.e. a culture that implies ornate luxury. The antonyms I'm finding are words like "opulent" or "embellished", which aren't based on a culture or place. Is there an adjective based on a culture or place that implies the opposite of Spartan?

3
  • 3
    Hi Robbie, and welcome to ELU. I've added the sort of details and research we expect to see in questions; I hope you don't mind. If you think I've butchered the intent of your question, you can simply roll back my changes. :)
    – Marthaª
    Dec 17, 2014 at 2:44
  • What the [insert strongest expletive you know] is with the "primarily opinion based" close-votes???? Are y'all absolute idiots?
    – Marthaª
    Dec 18, 2014 at 14:29
  • The only issue with Epicurean is the lack of originating culture and geography - people can point to the city of Sparta, where there isn't a Epicurean city... as far as I can tell. 'Sybartic' fits that bill. But it is a very obscure word. I also wonder about towns of the Italian renaissance... Florentine or Venetian for example.
    – Robbie
    Dec 18, 2014 at 18:18

10 Answers 10

80

"Spartan" is obviously a reference to the city of Sparta; if you want an antonym that keeps the geographical atmosphere, then I think sybaritic is the word you're looking for:

  • pertaining to or characteristic of a sybarite; characterized by or loving luxury or sensuous pleasure

  • of, relating to, or characteristic of Sybaris or its inhabitants.

Sybaris (Ancient Greek: Σύβαρις; Italian: Sibari) was an important city of Magna Graecia. It was situated on the Gulf of Taranto between two rivers, the Crathis (Crati) and the Sybaris (Coscile).

The city was founded in 720 BC by Achaean and Troezenian settlers. Sybaris amassed great wealth thanks to its fertile land and busy port. Its inhabitants became famous among the Greeks for their hedonism, feasts, and excesses, to the extent that "sybarite" and "sybaritic" have become bywords for opulent luxury and outrageous pleasure-seeking.

8
  • Yup. Sorry I missed this one.
    – Oldcat
    Dec 17, 2014 at 1:39
  • Awesome answer, and I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this adjective. It's the perfect antonym for Spartan. +1 from me.
    – Deepak
    Dec 17, 2014 at 1:39
  • 3
    @Oldcat But you haven't deleted, 6 hours later. Dec 17, 2014 at 7:54
  • 1
    And they're both Greek cities, to boot. Dec 17, 2014 at 15:01
  • 1
    I think that would be the answer I'm looking for then! New word for me too - I hadn't heard the term used before this. Thank you.
    – Robbie
    Dec 17, 2014 at 21:38
25

If a Spartan eschews pleasure for the sake of pleasure, then an Epicurean pursues pleasure for the sake of pleasure.

Mind you, "Epicurean" doesn't directly reference a culture. However, it does reference a philosophical or aesthetic bent. "Spartan" can also reference a philosophical or aesthetic bent.

Check the general references to see whether that word suits your purpose.

14
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth: Sorry, but 10 million screaming Elvis fans can be wrong, and so can 17 voters on this web site. Dec 18, 2014 at 6:09
  • 2
    @Jerry Coffin You're saying that AHDEL has got it wrong? It's certainly the sense that's uppermost in my mind. Or are you saying that we should only use earliest [known, I assume] senses for a word? That only you can decide these things? What do we have to call a Caesarian section? Dec 18, 2014 at 6:15
  • 7
    @Jerry Coffin Using a word as it is defined by a dictionary as respected as AHDEL is 'misusing' it? You're proclaiming the etymological fallacy. From Wikipedia: The etymological fallacy is a genetic fallacy that holds, erroneously, that the present-day meaning of a word or phrase should necessarily be similar to its historical meaning. // I'll go with authorities other than yourself when deciding on who sounds foolish. Dec 18, 2014 at 7:54
  • 2
    @snotwaffle Of course not. But one has to have a much better reason than personal preference to claim that, when it comes to English usage, the majority have got it wrong. I'm waiting to see an authority quoted by prescriptivists saying 'the present-day meaning of a word or phrase must necessarily be similar to its historical meaning'. I'll opt for AHDEL and its corpus studies, and Wikipedia and its linked references, rather than Jerry Coffin and snot waffle. Dec 18, 2014 at 11:33
  • 3
    as a side note, Epicurean is usually used to oppose Stoic
    – njzk2
    Dec 18, 2014 at 14:13
7

Hedonistic fits the bill I think.

Decadent is slightly more oblique, but it might serve.

Epicurean is also a great adjective, but that's already been proposed in another answer.

1
  • 1
    The duplicate is the only answer fitting OP's request:' What “Extravagant culture” could be used as an antonym to “Spartan”?' Dec 17, 2014 at 7:56
7

Maybe Byzantine would match your need. It is related in culture and can mean complex and intricate in contrast to simple and straightforward.

7

Corinthian also fits really well.

They were known for the drunkenness and sexual excess.

9
  • 4
    These days, the only thing I know them for is their columns.... I don't think calling someone "Corinthian" would be understood as meaning that they are a pleasure-seeking, self-indulgent type.
    – Hellion
    Dec 17, 2014 at 20:14
  • Well this one's going to be controversial.
    – Joshua
    Dec 17, 2014 at 23:22
  • 2
    Can you provide a reputable source for this allegation? Dec 18, 2014 at 9:29
  • 1
    That took 30 seconds. Its easy to find if you already know it is true.
    – Joshua
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:06
  • 1
    @ArtB "Corinthian" is moderately famous for (i.e. synonymous with) its ornate columns, even if its temple hetairas are only "generally known" to people who know a bit of the cultural stereotypes of Classical Greece.
    – ChrisW
    Dec 19, 2014 at 0:59
4

"Baroque"

Baroque was a highly decorative art style \ movement that was definitely not spartan. Specifically "late baroque" or "rococo".

Rococo artists and architects used a more jocular, florid, and graceful approach to the Baroque. Their style was ornate and used light colours, asymmetrical designs, curves, and gold.

1

The term Bourgeois comes to mind:

From Wikipedia:

In political economy, political philosophy, sociology, social sciences, and history, the bourgeoisie is the wealthy stratum of the middle class that originated during the latter part of the Middle Ages (AD 476–1453).

0
-1

"Sybaritic" - fond of sensuous luxury or pleasure; self-indulgent. (Google Dictionary)

-1

Las Vegan as in Las Vegas which is the epitome of indulgence and excess.

-2

How about "The Court of Louis XIV". Pretty much defines opulence and extravagance.

1
  • +1. You could even put some geography on it and say Versallean (or whatever the proper French adjective form is for a city).
    – Patrick M
    Dec 18, 2014 at 14:52

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.