Ancient Hoplites

Ancient Hoplites

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Spartan Assembly


The Spartan Assembly is often portrayed as a body of dumb, possibly illiterate, automatons, a rubber stamp for the decisions of the Kings, Gerousia and ephors.  This view of the Spartan Assembly is based on constitutional provisions that appear to have restricted debate, the absence of secret ballots, and the assumption that Sparta’s notoriously obedient soldiers would “take orders” in the Assembly just as they did on the battlefield. 

However, as any officer can tell you, the best soldiers are not automatons who wait for orders, but thinking, self-confident men who take the initiative and act without – or even against – orders if necessary.  Furthermore, the famous case of Amompharetus refusing to obey Pausanias’ orders on the eve of the Battle of Plataea is a dramatic case in point demonstrating that Spartans didn’t always obey orders – not even on the battlefield.  It further highlights the fact that commanders in the Spartan army did not command obedience:  Amompharetus was not, after all, summarily executed or even relieved of his command. Instead, Pausanias tried to reason with him and finally ordered the rest of the army to move out. Last but not least, Sparta had sufficient confidence in the judgment of its individual commanders to repeatedly send men of “ordinary” status out act as advisors to foreign powers, such as Gylippus in Syracus.

Second, the Assembly had real powers, officially more than the kings.  The Assembly elected the ephors every year and members of the Gerousia, whenever vacancies in occurred in the latter due to death. Hence men with political ambitions had to lobby and ensure a majority of votes against rivals. Also, according to most interpretations of the Great Rhetra, the Assembly had “the final say” on legislation.  The Assembly forced more than one king into exile (e.g. Cleomenes I, Leotychidas, Pleistoanax) and could condemn commanders who exceeded instructions such as Pausanius and Phoebidas.  Thus, despite the inability to introduce legislation and the public nature of the vote, the Spartan Assembly did exercise real power.

Most important, however, the Spartan Assembly was made up of her soldiers and her soldiers knew that they represented the might and power of Sparta. A body in which a large minority was composed of virile young men, in peak physical condition, who have been raised to think of themselves as the elite is unlikely to have been docile. The men who were to be officers and admirals, magistrates, governors, ambassadors and military advisors around the world rose through the ranks of the army – and all had a voice (and probably a following) in the Assembly. Even if some citizens were indifferent to politics and willing to do what others advised, in every generation there would have been ambitious young men willing to challenge existing authority.  Certainly the Assembly as a whole could be quite rowdy as is demonstrated by the example of the Assembly (“the Spartans” = not the ephors or Gerousia) throwing the Persian emissaries of Darius down a well!

What the above suggests is that Spartan citizens were anything but mindless automatons manipulated by their officers and political leaders, but self-confident citizens with a highly developed sense of their own power and confidence in their own capabilities and judgment.  Sparta’s citizens were not docile or mindless pawns, but thinking and responsible citizens with a say in the policies of their city-state. The differences between Athenian and Spartan democracy were many, and both were imperfect from the modern standpoint, but the Spartan citizen’s individual status within his polity should not be denigrated. 

The Spartan Assembly plays a significant role in the latter two books in my  Leonidas' Trilogy:


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Friday, April 1, 2016

Sparta's Navy

Modern Replica of a Trireme; part of the Hellenic Navy
No, this isn't an April Fools Joke. Sparta did have a navy. In fact, Sparta was a significant naval power in Archaic times. Indeed, although the Peloponnesian War is often seen as a conflict between a great sea-power (Athens) and a great land-power (Sparta), and in many history books disparaging remarks about Sparta’s “inability” to grasp the importance of sea-power can be found, Sparta ultimately defeated Athens at sea. Clearly, Sparta’s pride was her army, not her navy, and clearly the Athenians were the “lords of the sea” throughout the Classical period, but I think it worth noting that the clichés about Sparta’s lack of maritime power are overdrawn.



Sparta, unlike Athens, was not dependent on the sea for its very existence. Because it was self-sustaining in food and other necessities from ore to wood, Sparta did not need to tradeBecause Sparta was not dependent on trade, it did not need to control the trade routes. It did need to control its bread-basket Messenia, but that could be done with its army.  Thus, far from being negligent or backward (as some commentators suggest), the fact that Sparta could deploy a fleet at all is rather surprising.



In fact, based on Herodotus, it is arguable that Sparta had a credible fleet before Athens did.  Sparta’s first attempt to depose Hippias entailed, we are told, sending an army by sea (5:63) It hardly seems likely that Sparta would have sent their own modest fleet, if they had been facing a major sea-power at the time. True enough, the force dispatched was defeated on land by Thessalian cavalry, but it managed to successfully land troops in Attica, something that seems astonishing if the Athenians had truly had command of the sea at the time.



When Aristagoras convinced the Athenians to aid his rebellion against Persia, we are told the Athenians sent 20 triremes. That is respectable, but not overwhelming considering islands like Chias and Naxos could deploy fleets 100 strong. Obviously, Athens might have consciously chosen not to send too many ships, yet it seems odd they would risk the wrath of Persia with only a token force. Twenty triremes probably represented a sizable portion of their available fleet.



More to the point, Themistocles is credited with having convinced the Athenians to build a navy. He would hardly have earned the reputation as “father” of the Athenian navy if Athens already had a substantial fleet.  If the Athenian navy was indeed built up from a modest, auxiliary component of Athens’ military forces to her pride and primary arm in the ten years between 490 and 480 BC, then it is less surprising than usually assumed that a Spartan, Eurybiades, was elected to command of the combined Greek fleets opposing Persia in 480.



At the time of Eurybiades’ appointment, Athens new fleet and most of her crews were completely untested. Sparta’s fleet may have been smaller and not notably successful, but apparently the allies felt it was more experienced than Athens.’  In fact, it is less odd that Sparta was given precedence over Athens than that Sparta was given precedence over Corinth.  Corinth had a substantially larger fighting fleet and is credited by naval historians with having evolved the trireme – not Athens.



Once Athens had won the battle of Salamis, however, Athens’ domination of the seas began.  The navy was an instrument well suited to Athens radical democracy because it gave poorer citizens a means of contributing directly to Athens military power. Radical democracy in turn gave Athens the manpower to man her fleet. Middle class Athenians could remain hoplites and the sons of the wealthy could form the cavalry, while the great magnates financed the construction and commanded the fleet.  But it was Athens' citizen crews that made her fleet so good. No trireme manned by slaves or mercenaries could be depended upon to row so fast or fight so hard.



And Sparta’s fleet? We know that Spartiates were appointed to command the fleet as navarchos.  Beyond that, to my knowledge the names of no Spartans who served at sea have been recorded.  On the contrary, Spartiates were required to serve in the army and did not man the fleet.  This means that the Spartan fleet must have been manned by either perioikoi or helots or both.



Helot crews would, of course, have been similar to slave crews – highly problematic as disloyalty or even mere disinterest could cost a battle. Does this explain the lackluster performance of the Spartan navy throughout most of the Peloponnesian wars?



Yet, helots would hardly have been capable of paying for the ships nor is it likely they would have been capable or entrusted with command aboard them. This suggests perioikoi most likely financed and commanded Sparta’s fleet.  This is yet another area in which the role of the perioikoi has been seriously overlooked. The fascination of ancient and modern observers with the unique live-style of the Spartiates themselves, and the alleged oppression of helots has resulted in serious academic neglect of an essential component of Lacedaemon’s success: the perioikoi.

The Spartan navy features in the latter two books in my  Leonidas' Trilogy:


  Buy now!








Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sparta's Ephors: Citizens not Monsters



In the Hollywood film "300" the Ephors are depicted as monsters strangely determined to destroy Sparta. How five officials elected annually from among the citizens by the Assembly to enforce Sparta's laws should have been so corrupted is only one of the many mysteries of Hollywood. What follows is a short history of this uniquely Spartan institution.

The Ephors as depicted in "300"

The ephors, despite later importance, were not mentioned in the so-called Great Rhetra, which allegedly encapsulated Lycurgus’ constitutional reforms, nor did they appear in any of the surviving fragments of Tyrtaeus’ poetry.  Indeed, it appears that originally the ephors were little more than official servants of the kings, charged with executing the kings’ orders. In consequence, the ephors make no particular mark in history prior to the mid-sixth century.

By about 750 BC, however, the institution appears to have evolved somewhat farther. Each year, five citizens were elected by the Spartan Assembly to serve for one year and one year only. No one could be re-elected, so the composition of the ephorate was constantly (annually!) changing. It was not, therefore, a body "controlled" by any particular faction or even class. Yes, Sparta's most famous statesman and philosopher, Chilon, served as an ephor one year (and may have done much for the prestige of the institution), but we also know that some very poor and many obscure men also held the office.  The individual members of the ephorate were not particularly powerful either before or after their one year in office. 

Furthermore, because the ephors changed annually, the ephors as a body did not have a specific policy or even a consistent bias. A.H.M. Jones in his succinct book on Sparta (A.H.M. Jones, Sparta, Barnes and Noble, 1967) notes: "Roughly speaking the ephors represented the will of the majority. When feeling was strongly in one direction there would be continuity of policy. When opinion was equally divided, or fluctuated, the ephors reflected this instability. When a king like Agesilaus was carrying out a policy which all Spartans approved, the ephors gave him their full support. When a king like Achidamus was fighting the tide of public opinion, he would often be over-ruled or frustrated by the ephors." (p. 30) Nevertheless, as an institution, the ephors were very powerful.

The first recorded act of the ephors was when they forced a reluctant King Anaxandridas to take a second wife. This interference in the personal life of a king was justified by their concern over the future of the Agiad line and indirectly the Spartan Constitution. It was initiated because, according to Herodotus, the ephors were tasked with observing the heavens at regular intervals and interpreting the stars.  In other words, this first act of interference could be interpreted as more a religious than a political role, in that the ephors were simply interpreting the Will of the Gods, rather than acting in a constitutionally independent role.



In the centuries that followed, however, the ephors increasingly engaged in activities that are unashamedly political. By the late fifth century, the ephors could fine citizens -- even those elected to public office -- for misdemeanors and bring charges against them for more serious crimes.  The ephors also controlled relations with the perioikoi and helots (at some point initiating the practice of declaring war on the helots annually). The ephors drafted bills for presentation to the Assembly and set the agenda at Assembly meetings. They could summon the Assembly and presided at it.  The ephors decided (based on their estimate of the comparative volume of the shouted “ayes” and “nays,”) whether a motion had passed or not. Last but not least, they enforced the decisions taken at Assembly.

The ephors, furthermore, had diplomatic and military roles as well as political and administrative ones. Not only did they receive and dispatch ambassadors, they also named – and recalled – commanders such as Pausanias and Lysander.  They appointed the three hippagretai, who then each selected one hundred men from the citizens on active service (aged 21 – 30) to form the royal body guard.  After the Assembly voted for war, it was the ephors, who mobilized the troops.
 
Perhaps most important, two ephors accompanied whichever king commanded the Spartan army on campaign.  Thus, although the kings commanded absolute obedience while the Spartan army was outside of Lacedaemon, the ephors were expected to keep an eye on them and exercise their right to bring charges against the kings for any unconstitutional behavior on their return.  The mere presence of the ephors, therefore, acted as a curb on arbitrary and unlawful actions by the kings.  Last but not least, if a king was charged with a capital offense, the ephors sat in judgment of him along with the Gerousia.

The ephors as both representatives from the Assembly and executors of it's will were fundamentally a democratic institution. The power of these annually elected ordinary citizens exercised is an testiment to the degree to which the Spartan monarchy was a constitutional monarchy.

The Ephors play a significant role in the latter two books in my  Leonidas' Trilogy:


  Buy now!








Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Corruption of Spartan Society




The Sparta of Plutarch bears very little resemblance to the Sparta of Herodotus. By the first century AD, Sparta had become a brutal backwater living according to rigid rituals that the inhabitants exploited to attract tourism. These rituals, allegedly based on the Constitution of Lycurgus, were not Lycurgan at all, but rather the product of much latter law-making. 

We know for example, that after the defeat at Leuktra in 371 Sparta fell into a serious decline, and 150 years later King Cleomenes III (235-222) introduced "reforms" aimed at "restoring" the traditional Spartan institutions which had been all but forgotten. This "restoration," however, included many new "traditions" introduced by the stoic philosopher Sphaerus of Borysthenes, who was charged with redesigning both the agoge and the syssitia. 

After Sparta's defeat by the Achaean League in 188, Sparta was forced to abrogate it's constitution altogether and live according to the laws of the other Achaean States.  An attempt to return to the old ways in 143 BC was, after such a long hiatus, hardly a genuine "restoration" as it would have been impossible to exactly replicate even the already corrupted and altered laws and traditions of Cleomenes III. 

But the real decay in Sparta's culture and legal tradition began even before Leuktra. It began not long after Thermopylae with a documented dramatic decline in the Spartiate population. 

At Thermopylae, a full call-up of all citizens over the age of 20 and under the age of 55, enabled Sparta to field an army of 6,000 citizens (Spartiates) – not counting perioikoi or helots. Yet at Leuktra, when again there was a full call-up of 35 age cohorts, the Spartan army consisted of only 700 citizens. This dramatic decline in manpower was a serious disadvantage on the battlefield, where Sparta’s enemies could deploy (as they did at Leuktra) forces 50 deep to Sparta’s 12-man-deep line. It was also a dangerous disadvantage in economics and politics as well because the subject population of perioikoi and helots was not declining at the same rate. In short, a shrinking ruling class of Spartiates was trying to dominate an ever larger body of disenfranchised inhabitants. Like apartheid or feudalism, regimes dominated by too tiny elites generally evolve or collapse sooner or later. This is the reason Sparta’s population decline has long been a focus of scholars.

While some scholars (e.g. Chimes (1) below) have questioned the magnitude of the decline, most accept the numbers and prefer to concentrate on blaming the Spartan’s for their problems.  Aristotle, of course, blamed Sparta’s women for everything since they could inherit property, and women are, according to him, inherently greedy, grasping and irrational. Hodkinson (2) ran demographic models to demonstrate how female inheritance leads to concentrations of wealth over seven generations. Other historians focus less on how wealth became concentrated in a few hands and more on the fact that as increasing numbers of Spartans lost their citizenship due to poverty, the Spartan state failed to respond adequately to the resulting crisis by opening the citizenship ranks. 

In short, the Spartans, due to their abnormal laws (female inheritance and polyandry) and their fanatical and irrational adherence to these laws, are to blame for their own decline. But as Figueira (3) has pointed out, Sparta’s population was growing or at least stable throughout the archaic period.  Either the laws on female inheritance and polyandry did not exist in the archaic period, or they cannot be made responsible for the decline in Sparta’s population in the classical.

The Great Earthquake of 464, on the other hand, is an event which allegedly took 20,000 lives in Sparta alone, and its role in Sparta’s decline needs to be re-examined. The accounts of the earthquake are nothing if not dramatic. Pliny claims only five houses were left standing, and there are less credible tales of youths surviving because they ran out of a gymnasium to chase a hare, while the army was saved by being marched out in time. While the details may be hard to credit, I think it is safe to say the earthquake was catastrophic without, notably, impacting the strength of the army.  

Meanwhile, while some historians dismiss the ancient accounts as incredible, Hodkinson goes to the other extreme of dismissing “modern guesswork” about women and children being more heavily impacted by the earthquake simply because it is not mentioned in ancient sources. Given the misogynous bias of our ancient sources and the focus of most ancient accounts on Sparta’s military strength, I have no problem using common sense in the absence of a specific reference. Ancient sources rarely mention women or children in any other context either!

Following Figueira’s overall thesis that the Great Earthquake was the catalyst that set off a chain reaction leading to Sparta’s decline, I’d like to suggest that the impact might have been even more dramatic than Figueira contends.  My thinking is as follows: If  – as is reasonable – women and young children were killed in disproportional numbers, then the size of the Spartan army would not have been seen to decline for almost thirty years.  This is because the youth of the agoge were not disproportionately affected, so youths would have continued to graduate from the agoge and fill the ranks of the army for at least 14 years after the earthquake. Thereafter, for at least another 10 to 15 years, it would have been easy to maintain front-line strength by retaining men who would normally have gone off active service, i.e. by increasing the number of reserve age-cohorts on active duty.  Only when the age of the reservists made it unpractical to retain them, would the dramatically reduced numbers of graduates from the agoge become evident in the army.

The number of children entering the agoge, on the other hand, would have declined dramatically in the first seven years because of the children killed outright and thereafter because of the missing mothers -- or more acutely, the missing wives. The men already married, who marched to safety, would have lost their wives, while the youth in the agoge would have lost their future brides.  Obviously, some women survived, but if the number of surviving women was significantly disproportionate to the number of men, then the situation might have fostered the introduction of polyandry. It is significant that polyandry is not mentioned in Herodotus. The hypothesis of disproportionate casualties among women, maidens and girls would help explain not only the population decline of the second half of the 5th Century but also the evolution of such a peculiar custom for this part of the world at this period.

The shortage of Spartiate women would also explain the emergence of new-classes of quasi-citizens such as mothakes/mothones, nothoi, and neodameis. If there was a shortage of Spartiate female sexual partners following the earthquake, it would be only natural for the men, particularly the bachelors, to take perioikoi, helot or even foreign women – if not to wife – at least to their beds. They would then, particularly in face of the increasingly acute military manpower shortage, have had a strong interest in seeing the sons of these unions educated and at least partially integrated into the system. The fact that none of the above terms is found in reference to pre-earthquake individuals suggests to me that such classes of quasi-citizens either had not existed before or had not existed in sufficient numbers to be worthy of mention.

All in all, the thesis of “missing mothers” seems to explain more about Sparta’s decline in the later 5th Century BC than any other theory I have seen put forward.


(1)    K.M.T. Chimes, Ancient Sparta: A Re-Examinaton of the Evidence, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1952.
(2)    Stephen Hodkinson, Property and Wealth in Classical Sparta, The Classical Press of Wales, London, 2000.
(3)    Thomas Figueira, “Population Patterns in Late Archaic and Classical Sparta,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 116 (1986), pp.165-213.
 
 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Leonidas VIII: Final Reflections

Christians are about to celebrate the birth of Christ. 


The Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

2,015 years ago, in Palestine, a man was born, who preached a new religion based on love of one’s fellow man. Dramatically, however, he not only preached this message of love, he was prepared to sacrifice himself for the rest of mankind in an unprecedented manner. This sacrifice, depicted in countless works of art and on crucifixes in churches around the world, has inspired awe and wonder for two thousand years.

By the time Christ was born, the ancient city and culture of Sparta was moribund. Yes, there was still an urban community on the site of the once great capital of Lacedaemon, but the inhabitants of this Sparta no longer lived by the laws nor fallowed the customs that that made ancient Sparta unique and great.  And yet there is a bond between Sparta and Christianity in the form of Leonidas. 




Leonidas lived roughly 500 years before the birth of Christ and did not benefit from his teachings or example. Yet, while working on my three-part biography of Leonidas of Sparta, I came to realize that Leonidas is important not as a historical personality but as a moral figure.  It was Leonidas’ conscious decision to sacrifice himself for his fellow Greeks that made him such an appealing historical figure.  Leonidas fascinates us not because he was a Spartan king, but because he was prepared to defy impossible odds for the sake of freedom.

Critical to the appeal of Leonidas is that he died fighting a defensive – not an aggressive – battle.  Equally important is the fact that he faced death consciously; Leonidas knew he was going to die, but that did not deter or even dishearten him.  Most important of all, Leonidas did not die, like Achilles or Hektor, for the sake of his own glory and even for honor, but for the lives and freedom of others.

Leonidas’ conscious decision to die in order to save Sparta from destruction was proto-Christian. His example is morally up-lifting, and his story inspirational. These, not a fascination with Ancient Sparta or Leonidas’ historical role, are what make his story worth telling and make his story worth reading.



Sunday, November 1, 2015

Leonidas VII: Leonidas' Legacy

No Spartan has left a larger footprint in history and art than Leonidas. Not the commander of the Spartan army that actually defeated the Persians, Pausanias, nor the Spartan that eventually defeated Athens after the gruesome thirty-years war, Lysander, are half so well remembered .  Lycurgus and Chilon are familiar names only to classical scholars; Leonidas is a cult and comic-book hero, not to mention there is a chocolate company named for him.





Leonidas was, of course, a legend in his own time. The Spartans built him a monument at Thermopylae, notably separate from the monument to the rest of the 300, and a second monument was built to him at home in Sparta as well. His body was brought home after the Persians had been driven out of Greece.  But, unless it is an accident of archeology, larger monuments were built to the victors Pausanias and Lysander than to Leonidas.  In short, Leonidas’ appeal appears to have been greater in the modern world than the ancient. This might have many explanations – starting with the political agenda of his successors (or those who controlled his immature son) or discomfort with commemorating a devastating defeat.  The modern world, perhaps influenced by the Christian tradition of honoring sacrifice, is impressed by Leonidas’ defiance and devotion to duty more than his defeat.

There is also a modern tendency to assume that Leonidas’ behavior was “typical,” that he was indeed only doing what Spartan society expected of him, or acting “in accordance with the law.” This assumes that Spartans were “never” allowed to retreat and always chose death over either retreat or surrender.  The Spartans, of course, knew better. 

Sparta had suffered many severe defeats before Thermopylae, and in no other did an entire fighting force die to the last man for a lost cause. For example, there is good reason to believe that Sparta lost the First Messenian War, and it was ensuing economic and social dislocation that led to unrest and revolution.  Certainly, Sparta was given a resounding thrashing by the Argives at Hysiai in 669 BC, but even so the Spartans retreated rather than die to the last man.  Roughly one hundred years later, Sparta again over-reached herself in an attempt to conquer Tegea, and again there were survivors; they were enslaved in Tegea and forced to do agricultural labor for Tegean masters. In 525 BC, a Spartan expedition against Samos likewise ended in humiliating defeat, but not the extermination of the expeditionary force.  Finally, in the reign of Leonidas’ half-brother Cleomenes, a Spartan force under Anchimolius was attacked by Thessalian cavalry 1000 strong at Phalerum, and, according to Herodotus, “many Lacedaemonians were killed…and the survivors driven back to their ships.”  Note, again, the survivors were driven back to their ships, which they presumably boarded and used to return to Lacedaemon. There is not a word about dying to the last man.

Nor did “death rather than surrender” become the standard for future Spartan commanders after Thermopylae. The history of the Peloponnesian war is littered with Spartan defeats; none were massacres.  Even in the infamous case of 120 Spartiates trapped on the island of Sphakteria, the record shows that they surrendered and were taken off into (brutal!) Athenian captivity.  Nor were they written off by an indignant population as cowards, "tremblers" or otherwise disgraced and worthless.  Had they been so viewed, Sparta would not have sued for peace and made serious concessions to Athens to have them returned. Even their collective degradation from full-citizen status on their return is not indicative of disapproval of surrender. On the contrary, it more likely reflects fear that men who had been in Athens for almost four years might have become subverted (brainwashed, is the Cold War term) by Athenian democracy.  After an unknown period, they were collectively reinstated, and some even ran for public office. That would not have been possible, if the majority of Spartans had felt they should have committed suicide rather than surrender.

Leonidas’ legacy was not one of blind, mindless self-sacrifice. His example was one of devotion to duty, even unto death, for a good cause.  Leonidas did not die for the sake of dying – much less take his comrades with him to a senseless death.  He had clear military objectives that he hoped to achieve by his last stand: 1) giving the other Greek contingents time to withdraw and live to fight another day, and 2) increasing Persian respect for/fear of Spartans.  Once the pass at Thermopylae was turned, Leonidas knew the Persian army would advance unopposed into Central Greece. He could not know where it would next be confronted by land-forces, but he must have feared that it might sweep through Central Greece to the Isthmus of Corinth. He must have feared that Sparta might find herself virtually alone facing the onslaught.  Anything he could do to make Xerxes hesitate to take on a Spartan army must have seemed worthwhile.  That is a legacy worth preserving.

Last but not least, as a devout Spartan, Leonidas undoubtedly believed he had to fulfill the Delphic Oracle. He knew he had to die, if Sparta was to be saved. In that sense, he was from the start a sacrificial lamb, but not until the position at Thermopylae was betrayed, did his sacrifice inherently encompass defeat as well.  He probably hoped when he set out for Thermopylae that he could die in a victorious battle – or at least an indecisive one. He certainly hoped and expected that alive or dead his advance force over 6,000 strong could hold the Hot Gates until Sparta’s full army could reinforce the advance guard. When it became clear he would die in a hopeless situation, he tried to minimize the losses by ordering the withdrawal of the allied contingents (and almost certainly all the Perioikoi troops that would have been with him).  He even tried to save some of the Spartiates by giving them dispatches for delivery somewhere. They saw through him and refused. They refused out of loyalty, out of friendship, out of personal affection for Leonidas, both the man and the king. They did not act for military reasons but for personal ones. Yet their legacy too is worth honoring.


Sparta's culture and military ethos are a fundamental focus of my three part biographical novel of Leonidas.

A Boy of the Agoge                         

 

                                A Peerless Peer



                                                                                     A Heroic KIng