The second and the boldest of Lykurgus's reforms was the redistribution of the land. Great inequalities existed, many poor and needy people had become a burden to the state, while wealth had got into a very few hands. Lykurgus abolished all the mass of pride, envy, crime, and luxury which flowed from those old and more terrible evils of riches and poverty, by inducing all land-owners to offer their estates for redistribution, and prevailing upon them to live on equal terms one with another, and with equal incomes, striving only to surpass each other in courage and virtue, there being henceforth no social inequalities among them except such as praise or blame can create.
Putting his proposals immediately into practice, he divided the outlying lands of the state among the Perioeki, in thirty thousand lots, and that immediately adjoining the metropolis among the native Spartans, in nine thousand lots, for to that number they then amounted. Some say that Lykurgus made six thousand lots, and that Polydorus added three thousand afterwards; others that he added half the nine thousand, and that only half was allotted by Lykurgus.He desired to distribute furniture also, in order completely to do away with inequality; but, seeing that actually to take away these things would be a most unpopular measure, he managed by a different method to put an end to all ostentation in these matters. First of all he abolished the use of gold and silver money, and made iron money alone legal; and this he made of great size and weight, and small value, so that the equivalent for ten minae required a great room for its stowage, and a yoke of oxen to draw it. As soon as this was established, many sorts of crime became unknown in Lacedaemon. For who would steal or take as a bribe or deny that he possessed or take by force a mass of iron which he could not conceal, which no one envied him for possessing, which he could not even break up and so make use of; for the iron when hot was, it is said, quenched in vinegar, so as to make it useless, by rendering it brittle and hard to work?
After this, he ordered a general expulsion of the workers in useless trades. Indeed, without this, most of them must have left the country when the ordinary currency came to an end, as they would not be able to sell their wares: for the iron money was not current among other Greeks, and had no value, being regarded as ridiculous; so that it could not be used for the purchase of foreign trumpery, and no cargo was shipped for a Laconian port, and there came into the country no sophists, no vagabond soothsayers, no panders, no goldsmiths or workers in silver plate, because there was no money to pay them with.