Aug 1, 2022Liked by Caleb Ontiveros, Étienne Fortier-Dubois

I think the claim that Sparta was merely average in the field of battle is overblown. Thucydides finds it remarkable that Spartans are able to maintain enough composure in battle to walk very slowly towards the enemy. Similarly, in Xenephon's account of the 10,000, it is Persia that wants to hire Spartan mercenaries. Furthermore, when the southern cities of Greek Italy are threatened by Roman expansion, they turn to the Spartan General Pyrrhus to run the military affairs. The sheer quantity of references to Spartan mercenaries across texts seems to indicate a real reputation for war-philia.

Concerning low living standards in Sparta. This seems intentional? In both Plato's Republic the pleasureless Malthusian society is first praised (as a proto-Sparta), and in the Laws the Crypteia (those secret police you mention) are praised for their ridiculous amounts of endurance without clothes and barefoot.

There is much more to be said about Spartan culture, their decision for war against Athens, their alleged relationship with Israel (seriously!), which can add more nuance still.

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