The End of Sparta: A Novel
Victor Davis Hanson
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In this sweeping and deeply imagined historical novel, acclaimed classicist Victor Davis Hanson re-creates the battles of one of the greatest generals of ancient Greece, Epaminondas. At the Battle of Leuktra, his Thebans crushed the fearsome army of Sparta that had enslaved its neighbors for two centuries.
We follow these epic historical events through the eyes of Mêlon, a farmer who has left his fields to serve with Epaminondas-swept up, against his better judgment, in the fever to spread democracy even as he yearns to return to his pastoral hillside.
With a scholar's depth of knowledge and a novelist's vivid imagination, Hanson re-creates the ancient world down to its intimate details-from the weight of a spear in a soldier's hand to the peculiar camaraderie of a slave and master who go into battle side by side. The End of Sparta is a stirring drama and a rich, absorbing reading experience.
Praise for Victor Davis Hanson:
"I have never read another book that explains so well the truth that 'war lies in the dark hearts of us all' but that history offers hope."-William Shawcross on The Father of Us All
"Few writers cover both current events and history-and none with the brilliance and erudition of Victor Davis Hanson."-Max Boot on The Father of Us All
"Enthralling."-Christopher Hitchens on The Western Way of War
plan. But I warn you that Gastêr may well jump the starting blocks. He is a restless sort. He hates having his feet on land, where any can see his one arm, his woman’s thin beard, and his big belly. No wonder he likes the sea, where fish and gulls think he’s Adonis. He’s a sly fart, who stares into the water like a made-up woman with her mirror.” Alkidamas waved him to stay put. He walked up the springy board to the outrigging. Ephoros was, as he remembered him from the previous year, of an age
Mantineian scouts of crafty Lykomedes were not the first to hear of the arrival of the Boiotians into the south. The Arkadian shepherds of the high methoria had already seen an army far above on the ridges of Parthenion. Dim specks against the sky, distant thousands of shadows moving along the crests were enough for them—along with the butchering of their high flocks as hungry Boiotians took what they could. So with news of an entire polis on the move, the herders ran down from the eschatia with
generals under Epitêles joined Epaminondas for their late meal of garlic, dried apples, and, for the Dorians, some salted goat. As they parleyed, Ainias went out among the company commanders. “Women must cook. Make shelters as the men cut and drag the stone down the hill. We hear there are a thousand oxen and as many horse. I see they have wagons and rollers, all hidden away on the mountains and already coming down.” The more Epaminondas noted the organization, the food, the quiet here, the more
fight. Ah, she is here with us now.” Then on cue a blood-curdling shriek filled the tent. “Alalalê. Alalalalalêêê …” The war cry of Helikon. Tall and thin, Nêto stood on a chair above the hoplites. She had sneaked off from the farm, once Mêlon had left with Chiôn and Gorgos, and had spent yet another day at Thebes with Proxenos studying the omens. Now with her hair in waves and her eyes rolling, she posed like those wild gorgons in stone, carved high on the big temples, with mouth and teeth wide
brought up the rear. He was pushing the Spartans ahead. He waved his spear this way and that before throwing it at the Boiotians who had slowed in their pursuit. He took up a cleaver now. As his father rushed ahead into the camp, Antikrates turned about and paused, eager to kill one more Boiotian before he too was across the ditch—a sight to encourage his men who watched him cross. Ismenias, son of Ismenias, the firebrand of the Theban dêmos, had ordered his men not to let them away. “At them.