Ἐγένετο δὲ καὶ Λακεδαιμονίοις μάντευμα ἐκ Δελφῶν τὸν Ἀθηναῖον ἐπάγεσθαι σύμβουλον. ἀποστέλλουσιν οὖν παρὰ τοὺς Ἀθηναίους τόν τε χρησμὸν ἀπαγγελοῦντας καὶ ἄνδρα αἰτοῦντας παραινέσοντα ἃ χρή σφισιν. Ἀθηναῖοι δὲ οὐδέτερα θέλοντες, οὔτε Λακεδαιμονίους ἄνευ μεγάλων κινδύνων προσλαβεῖν μοῖραν τῶν ἐν Πελοποννήσῳ τὴν ἀρίστην οὔτε αὐτοὶ παρακοῦσαι τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς ταῦτα ἐξευρίσκουσι καὶ—ἦν γὰρ Τυρταῖος διδάσκαλος γραμμάτων νοῦν τε ἥκιστα ἔχειν δοκῶν καὶ τὸν ἕτερον τῶν ποδῶν χωλός—τοῦτον ἀποστέλλουσιν ἐς Σπάρτην. ὁ δὲ ἀφικόμενος ἰδίᾳ τε τοῖς ἐν τέλει καὶ συνάγων ὁπόσους τύχοι καὶ τὰ ἐλεγεῖα καὶ τὰ ἔπη σφίσι τὰ ἀνάπαιστα ᾖδεν.
The Lacedaemonians received an oracle from Delphi to procure the Athenian as counsellor. They therefore despatched messengers to the Athenians to announce the oracle and asked for a man to advise them what they should do. The Athenians, unwilling either that the Lacedaemonians should annex the best part of the Peloponnese without great risk or that they themselves should take no heed of the god, devised accordingly. There was a schoolmaster, Tyrtaeus, who seemed to have little sense and who was lame in one foot, and they sent him to Sparta. Upon his arrival he sang his elegiac and anapaestic verses, both privately to those in office and to as many as he could gather together. (tr. Douglas E. Gerber)