History Lesson N° 1
Sparta was one of the major powers of Greece. Contrary to most other powers (Athens, Thebes) they were no paradigm of progress or democracy. It was the one monarchy (actually, a diarchy: two kings) in a country dominated by democracies and despots. Most greeks thought that the best life would be one dedicated to philosophy. Spartans were raised to be warriors since they were born. Weaklings were eliminated in cold blood. It was a civilization of warriors.
In such enviroment, it didn't come as a surprise that they weren't men of many words, contrasting with the remaining of Greece. Spartans were famous for their despise for long speeches. The term "laconic" comes from the territory controlled by Sparta which was known as Laconia.
The most famous of all laconisms was in reply to a threat made by Philip II of Macedonia. Philip II was no less than Alexander The Great's father. He was in process of unifying for the first time all of Greece. All powers had succumbed to the mighty Macedonian Phalanx, except Sparta. Philip II, respectful of Sparta's past glories and victories in so many wars, decided to warn them before invading with his armies so he sent a message. The message said: "If I enter Laconia, I will level Sparta to the ground".
Spartans replied with just one word: "If"