The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece
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The Spartans were a society of warrior-heroes who were the living exemplars of such core values as duty, discipline, self-sacrifice, and extreme toughness. This book, written by one of the world’s leading experts on Sparta, traces the rise and fall of Spartan society and explores the tremendous influence the Spartans had on their world and even on ours. Paul Cartledge brings to life figures like legendary founding father Lycurgus and King Leonidas, who embodied the heroism so closely identified with this unique culture, and he shows how Spartan women enjoyed an unusually dominant and powerful role in this hyper-masculine society. Based firmly on original sources, The Spartans is the definitive book about one of the most fascinating cultures of ancient Greece.
probably dealing with a Festival of Unarmed Dancing, organized as such perhaps in the second quarter of the seventh century. That would in truth have special cultural as well as cultic meaning and relevance, since the Spartans were famed for dancing in general and for one particular military dance, the Pyrrhic (named in honour of Pyrrhos, or Neoptolemus, son of Achilles). Since all the gods of Sparta, moreover, the female ones as well as the male, were represented visually in their cult statues
Years’ Peace. The essence of the treaty was that each side was to ‘keep what it had’: that is to say, the Spartans in effect ‘recognized’ the Athenians’ empire, while the Athenians in their turn ‘recognized’ Sparta’s hegemony of the Peloponnesian League. Much of mainland Greece was thus carved up into two great blocs between which was supposed to reign a sort of balance of power. Pleistoanax, however, for all that he may have been a principled believer in such a Cimonian ‘dual hegem-ony’ thesis,
killed outright, ignominiously consigned to a lingering and painful death by starvation in Syracuse’s stone quarries. Out of so many who left Athens in 415, as Thucydides ruefully recorded, so few eventually returned. In retrospect the Sicilian disaster was the turning point in the Athenian War, though campaigning continued for a further decade, mainly by sea in the eastern Aegean and in and around the Hellespont (Dardanelles). In line with the general paradoxical quality of the struggle, this
a stone base, interspersed with lookout towers at regular intervals. At the same time as the wall was going up, in c. 200, one of Sparta’s four core villages, Cynosura (‘Dog’s Tail’), publicly thanked its official water commissioner, another sign both of Sparta’s urbanization and of heightened concern over urban security. Rome’s decisive intervention, whatever its precise motivation, redounded principally to the immediate benefit of the Achaean League, which since its formation in 280 had become
what the great German clas-sical scholar Wilamowitz called ‘giving blood to the ghosts’ of antiquity. It is, however, to continue the pun, a very specific sort of bloodletting that I want to consider here. There are I believe, broadly, two chief reasons for wanting to continue to study the ancient Greeks today. First, they are so like us – genuinely ancestral in many fundamental cultural ways. Second – the exact opposite reason – they are so unlike us, also in fundamental ways. For example, their