30

"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
    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 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 18:18

10 Answers 10

79

"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.

| improve this answer | |
  • Yup. Sorry I missed this one. – Oldcat Dec 17 '14 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 '14 at 1:39
  • 3
    @Oldcat But you haven't deleted, 6 hours later. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 17 '14 at 7:54
  • 1
    And they're both Greek cities, to boot. – Blazemonger Dec 17 '14 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 '14 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth: Sorry, but 10 million screaming Elvis fans can be wrong, and so can 17 voters on this web site. – Jerry Coffin Dec 18 '14 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? – Edwin Ashworth Dec 18 '14 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. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 18 '14 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. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 18 '14 at 11:33
  • 3
    as a side note, Epicurean is usually used to oppose Stoic – njzk2 Dec 18 '14 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    The duplicate is the only answer fitting OP's request:' What “Extravagant culture” could be used as an antonym to “Spartan”?' – Edwin Ashworth Dec 17 '14 at 7:56
6

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

| improve this answer | |
6

Corinthian also fits really well.

They were known for the drunkenness and sexual excess.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '14 at 20:14
  • Well this one's going to be controversial. – Joshua Dec 17 '14 at 23:22
  • 2
    Can you provide a reputable source for this allegation? – Agi Hammerthief Dec 18 '14 at 9:29
  • 1
    That took 30 seconds. Its easy to find if you already know it is true. – Joshua Dec 18 '14 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 '14 at 0:59
3

"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.

| improve this answer | |
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).

| improve this answer | |
-1

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

| improve this answer | |
-1

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

| improve this answer | |
-2

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

| improve this answer | |
  • +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 '14 at 14:52

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