I was told about a story, of how one army sent terms to another army threatening 'if' they did not obey them, they would be punished. The receiving army replied to the threat with one word "if". I would really like to know if this story is a real historical event and if so what time period/era.

1 Answer 1


Recorded in Plutarch's De garrulitate, this is an example of a Laconic phrase:

After invading Greece and receiving the submission of other key city-states, Philip II of Macedon sent a message to Sparta: "If I invade Laconia you will be destroyed, never to rise again." The Spartan ephors replied with a single word: "If" (αἴκα). Subsequently neither Philip II nor his son Alexander the Great attempted to capture the city.

  • Great answer! The only problem is that you have clearly quoted a large portion of it from somewhere, without providing a link to that place (or at least a book reference if it was transcribed). Technically, that's against StackExchange policy. Could you possibly add that link?
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 9, 2015 at 23:48
  • The link (from Plutarch) can be found as reference #27 in the Laconic phrase Wikipedia article
    – Barry
    Jul 10, 2015 at 0:37
  • 1
    @T.E.D. The quote is taken directly from the provided link, but I've edited to make the source more obvious. Jul 10, 2015 at 3:05

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