Come join us on Wednesday, July 21st
and review the book, “The Spartans: the World of the Warrior: Heroes of Ancient
Greece, from Utopia to Crisis and Collapse” [DB 61834] and listen to the Author,
Paul Cartledge, participating on a BBC panel.
Although ancient Sparta and Athens were opposites in many ways, they are regarded
as major pillars of Western thought and Civilization. Athens is famed as the seat
of logic and philosophy, democracy and the individual.
Sparta, on the other hand, was idealized as the original utopia, a remarkably evolved
society whose people exemplified the key values of
duty, discipline, and sacrificing the individual for the greater good.
In reality Athens was an imperialist sea power dominating its neighbors, a city state
surrounded by protective walls and a fleet of triremes requiring hundreds of skilled
freeman as rowers who in turn demanded and periodically obtained a democracy. Unlike
men, women lacked property rights or education and were confined to the home.
Sparta, on the contrary, eschewed walls of stone PREFERRING A human wall that is
an eight-man deep phalanx of ferocious warriors called hoplites, who were its ruling
class. Unlike Athens, Sparta created a primarily land-based Hegemony by enslaving
its neighbors as helots and ruthlessly suppressing other city states. Techniques
such as the annual ritual of declaring war against the helots permitted their killing
without consequence, especially by the Krypteia or secret police.
In order to maintain this perfect society of perfect warriors, the Spartans turned
most societal and family values upside down in favor of the discipline of the agoge,
the extremely harsh barrack training from the age of seven to twenty-nine with institutionalized
homosexuality. Despite this macho militarism, Spartan women as the bearers of little
hoplites, had property rights, were educated, competed in athletics and were permitted
unusual sexual freedom for the time.
Paul Cartledge, world recognized expert on Sparta and consultant for documentaries
by the BBC and PBS explains the development and contradictions of the Spartan civilization
beginning with the Doric expansion into the Peloponnesian Peninsula around 1100 BCE,
and the development of its militaristic constitution around 650 B.C.E. which consolidated
Spartan conquest and enslavement of Laconia. He describes how Sparta reached its
height in the Persian Wars between 490-479 B.C.E. when Sparta, at its peak, led the
fight with Athens in the battles of Thermopylae, Latae, and Mycale which defeated
the much larger Persian army. This ended Persian plans to conquer Greece and Europe
and resulted in the expansion of Hellenistic city states into the domain of the Persian
Empire. Sparta’s decline, as well as Athens, began with the fratricidal Peloponnesian
war, 431-404 B.C.E. between the two former allies.
According to Cartledge, Spartan power declined with the shrinking numbers of qualified
hoplites due to war casualties and low reproduction rates as well as their xenophobia
and failure to accept changes in warfare such as the ”spindles” or bows and arrows
or the Sicilian catapult.
This book should satisfy anyone interested in learning more about Greek history and
its profound influence on Western Civilization. The author has a lucid writing style
and inserts many anecdotes about famous historical characters of the time which are
firmly documented by archeological evidence and writings of historians of the time.
NLS BARD LISTING:
The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, from Utopia to Crisis
Cartledge, Paul. Read by Lou Harpenau. Reading time 10 hours 9 minutes.
Download The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, from Utopia to Crisis and Collapse, DB58416
facilitated by Don Queen, Email: email@example.com
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Accessible World presents A World view Of History "THE SPARTANS" by Don Queen
Come join us on Wednesday, July 21st