Bettany Hughes TV - Michael Scott TV - Lord Byron - 300 Spartans: The Last Stand TV - King Agesilaus - King Demaratus - Spartan mothers - Dienekes - Myron of Priene - Richard Miles TV - Empires Special: The Greeks TV - Thucydides - Artistotle - Plutarch -
When you come to visit Sparta it can be hard to imagine that this was once one of the most influential game-changing civilisations in the story of the world. Bettany Hughes’ Treasure of the World s1e1: Greece, Channel 4 2021
We’re off to Sparta: ’cause luxury was an issue there too. Michael Scott, Guilty Pleasures I: Luxury in Ancient Greece: Nothing in Excess BBC 2013
Sparta was very different from Athens. ibid.
Sparta had no city walls. ibid.
Sparta was organised for war. ibid.
By the end of the fifth century the Spartan military machine dominated mainland Greece. ibid.
The remains of ancient Sparta are not impressive. ibid.
This Spartan stoicism even extended beyond death. ibid.
Inverted minimalist luxury. ibid.
Earth! render back from out they breast
a remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three
To make a new Thermopylae! Lord Byron, Don Juan
In the narrow Thermopylae pass in northern Greece 7,000 ancient Greek soldiers await an onslaught of epic proportions. They will soon face the largest fighting force ever assembled at the time. Nearly 300,000 soldiers of the mighty Persian empire. Leading the Greeks are 300 of the most ferocious warriors of the ancient world: the Spartans ... Modern estimates suggest about 300,000 strong. But others believe it may have been as high as 2,000,000. 300 Spartans: The Last Stand
Leonidas chose his finest warriors, but only those who had fathered sons to ensure their bloodline would survive. ibid.
By the time the Persians arrived at Thermopylae and Artemisium a year later the Greeks had added over a hundred additional ships to the fleet. But still the Persian fleet outnumbered the Greek fleet nearly six to one. Themistocles was about to discover whether his efforts to build the Athenian Navy had been in vain. ibid.
Both prepare for the second Persian attack. Xerxes sent in the hammer and fist of the Persian army, the silent and masked heavy infantry called the Immortals. ibid.
The walls of Sparta were its young men, and its borders the points of their swords. King Agesilaus
The gods will take care of the king’s army. King Demaratus at Thermopylae
Son, remember your courage with each step. Spartan mother to son
With this shield or on it. Spartan mother to son
Good, then we shall have our battle in the shade. Dienekes, attributed, when told at Thermopylae that Persian archers could block out sun with arrows
They assign to the Helots every shameful task leading to disgrace. For they ordained that each one of them must wear a dogskin cap (κυνῆ / kunễ) and wrap himself in skins (διφθέρα / diphthéra) and receive a stipulated number of beatings every year regardless of any wrongdoing, so that they would never forget they were slaves. Moreover, if any exceeded the vigour proper to a slave’s condition, they made death the penalty; and they allotted a punishment to those controlling them if they failed to rebuke those who were growing fat. Myron of Priene 3rd century B.C.
Sparta was the strangest test-tube in the whole laboratory. Richard Miles, Ancient Worlds III: The Greek Thing, BBC 2010
Thirteen years of savage training to prepare them for their vacation as warriors. ibid.
Sparta mistrusted Athenian democracy. ibid.
It was said that after the Persian Wars Sparta slept. ibid.
Now they had a fleet paid for with Persian gold. With Athens’ navy decimated by the defeat in Sicily, the Spartans could now blockade the Athenian harbours. The great grain convoys from Egypt and the colonies could no longer get through. Empires Special: The Greeks: Crucible of Civilisation III: Empire of the Mind, PBS 2000
You should reach the limits of virtue, before you cross the border of death. Tyrtaeus, Spartan poet
How glorious fall the valiant, sword in hand, in front of battle for their native land! Tyrtaeus
Rise up, warriors, take your stand at one another’s sides, our feet set wide and rooted like oaks in the ground. Tyrtaeus
Learn to love death’s ink-black shadow as much as you love the light of dawn. Tyrtaeus
Here is courage, mankind's finest possession, here is the noblest prize that a young man can endeavour to win. Tyrtaeus
A slave’s life is all you understand; you know nothing of freedom. For if you did, you would have encouraged us to fight on, not only with our spear, but with everything we have. Two Spartans before Persian king, cited Herodotus ‘Histories’
We bow down before no man. ibid.
Suppose the city of Sparta to be deserted, and nothing left but the temples and the ground-plan, distant ages would be very unwilling to believe that the power of the Lacedaemonians was at all equal to their fame. Their city is not built continuously, and has no splendid temples or other edifices; it rather resembles a group of villages, like the ancient towns of Hellas, and would therefore make a poor show. Thucydides
It is the standards of civilized men not of beasts that must be kept in mind, for it is good men not beasts who are capable of real courage. Those like the Spartans who concentrate on the one and ignore the other in their education turn men into machines and in devoting themselves to one single aspect of city’s life, end up making them inferior even in that. Artistotle
The [Spartan] custom was to capture women for marriage ... The so-called ‘bridesmaid’ took charge of the captured girl. She first shaved her head to the scalp, then dressed her in a man’s cloak and sandals, and laid her down alone on a mattress in the dark. The bridegroom – who was not drunk and thus not impotent, but was sober as always – first had dinner in the messes, then would slip in, undo her belt, lift her and carry her to the bed. Plutarch