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Actually, the Spartans Weren’t All That Great

daftandbarmy

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Finally.... the truth will out :)

Actually, the Spartans Weren’t All That Great

Sci-fi author Myke Cole recently turned his hand to military history with his 2018 book Legion Versus Phalanx. In a follow-up volume,
The Bronze Lie, he takes a skeptical look at the myth of ancient Sparta.

“I analyze Sparta’s complete military record, and prove that they were not the super-warriors that they’re reputed to be, and that most people believe they were based on Frank Miller’s hit comic 300, which was then made into an even bigger movie by Zack Snyder,” Cole says in Episode 407 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

The military record of ancient Sparta might seem like an academic curiosity, but Cole says the subject has taken on new urgency in the current cultural context. “The symbology of the Spartans as the world’s ultimate badasses has been appropriated by the extreme right,” he says. “They’re used as this cult-like symbol of the far right, and I show how disastrously unhealthy that is.”
Last year Cole addressed the issue in his New Republic article “The Sparta Fetish is a Cultural Cancer,” which generated a strong backlash. “It really underscored to me that I’m doing the right thing, that people feel so strongly about this myth of Spartan military supremacy,” he says. “It showed me that I’m really mining a vein here that needs to be explored. So it only made me dig in and want to push on with it.”

He hopes The Bronze Lie will reclaim Sparta from the far right, and show that everyone can draw lessons from the actual history.
“They were cowards just like we are, they were greedy just like we are, they showed fear just like we do, they lost just like we do, and they also were capable of heroics and great things,” he says. “I think flawed humans are so much easier to connect with and take inspiration from than this crazy idea of mythical super-warriors, which nobody ever was, let alone the Spartans.”

https://www.wired.com/2020/03/geeks-guide-spartans/
 

Colin Parkinson

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Just watching 300 right now, I must be bored, I read about the Naval battle of Salamis as a kid, far more exciting for me. As I recall Sparta was highly dependent on a steady supply of slaves to keep it's economy going.
 

Remius

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Colin P said:
Just watching 300 right now, I must be bored, I read about the Naval battle of Salamis as a kid, far more exciting for me. As I recall Sparta was highly dependent on a steady supply of slaves to keep it's economy going.

We had a previous thread on this.  They actually we%u2019re not .  They had a good propaganda machine.  It had a massive slave economy and it%u2019s standing Army%u2019s main purpose was to keep it going.  They actually lost more battles than they won. 

Good discussion here.

https://army.ca/forums/threads/127254/post-1517060.html#msg1517060
 

Colin Parkinson

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I am so utterly thankfully that I did not pay to watch that movie, what a piece of trash.
 

Retired AF Guy

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Remius said:
We had a previous thread on this.  They actually weren%u2019t.  They had a good propaganda machine.  It had a massive slave economy and it%u2019s standing Army%u2019s main purpose was to keep it going.  They actually lost more battles than they won. 

Good discussion here.

https://army.ca/forums/threads/127254/post-1517060.html#msg1517060

They also took bribes from the Persians.
 

a_majoor

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There are lots of good works about the Spartans, and opinions running the full range of the spectrum (Victor Davis Hanson calls Sparta an "Apartheid State" based on the nature of the Helot slave economy, but most other reputable works I've read are pretty balanced). Of course I'm also a bit biased from reading primary source material like Herodotus, Xenophon and Thucydides.

Perhaps the best fictional treatment I've read is "Gates of Fire" by Steven Pressfield (who has branched out into writing novels of ancient conflicts), although the nature of the sotry inevitably paints the Spartans in a pretty heroic light. Still a good read, now that we are stuck at home for a while....
 
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