Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Manfredi's Spartan

I have always been intrigued by the Spartans, their culture and warrior ethos. Valerio Massimo Manfredi gave a good account of all three in his 1988 novel which was written in Italian and was translated into English in 2002. Dr. Valerio Massino Manfredi is a historian, archaeologist and journalist. He is also the author of the Alexander the Great trilogy and the Last Legion which will soon be made into a movie. My fascination with the Spartans was given additional booster when I watched the movie 300 and also when I visited the actual battlefield site of Thermopylae and the graves of these brave warriors. This novel is about the two Spartans who survived the battle and the revolt of the Herlot, the people enslaved by the Spartans. Though the Spartans officially do not have "slaves" however they do make "slaves" of the other people near their city. These "slaves" do all the work while the Spartans trained to be warriors all the time.

Interestingly, my other favourite historical warfare author is writing about the Warrior Ethos. This is from his website

How the Spartans Became the Spartans

By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 7, 2011

Chapter 12   How the Spartans Became the Spartans
All warrior cultures start with a great man.
In ancient Sparta, that man was Lycurgus. He took the city from a normal society and made it into a warrior culture.
So that no individual would have grounds to feel superior to another, Lycurgus divided the country into 9000 equal plots of land. To each family he gave one plot. Further, he decreed that the men no longer be called “citizens,” but “peers” or “equals.”
So that no man might compete with another or put on airs over wealth, Lycurgus outlawed money. A coin sufficient to purchase a loaf of bread was made of iron, the size of a man’s head and weighing over thirty pounds. So ridiculous was such coinage that men no longer coveted wealth but pursued virtue instead.
Lycurgus outlawed all occupations except warrior. He decreed that no name could be inscribed on a tombstone except that of a woman who died in childbirth or a man killed on the battlefield. A Spartan entered the army at eighteen and remained in service till he was sixty; he regarded all other occupations as unfitting for a man.

Interesting culture.

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