The Myth Of Democracy and the Greeks at War

JOHN THURSTON is back and eager to discuss Western Martial Arts, especially relating to its history.


The Myth Of Democracy and the Greeks at War

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:32 am

Hello all:

I am sorry to have been absent. I also apologize for not visiting other forums. In fact I have only one valid excuse: to wit:

I have been getting my feet rebuilt.

So far so good.

Well again we are confronted with a Valiant story written by the victors. Thermopylae. We discussed the fact that 300 Spartans were not. in fact present and that two Spartans one Aristodemos (perhaps meaning the leader among equals) an Eurytos. This was discussed in a post a very long time ago.

Both were blinded my eye infections before the battle and Leonidas ordered them to go home. Aristodemos did and Eurytos did not, and was killed in the battle at the "Pillars of Fire" or less romantically, the "Hot Gates" . Perhaps a mini Yellowstone-which has now spread by means unknown to mean to be three miles wide. No matter, Eurytos, of course in true Spartan manner, was praised and Aristedemos. spartanopredictably was labeled as a TRESANTES or trembler, to his disgrace and the disgrace of his family name.

Of a Tresantes it was said in "The Greeks at war" that this would go at least as far as his "messmates" not speaking with him. Since all Spartan lads grew up together in the rigours of the mandatory training and political system called the "Agoge".

Another possible shunning instrument was that tresantes were made to wear colored patches on their cloaks. they were disenfranchised and not allowed to hold public office.

Another Spartan, Pantites, was absent from the battle acting under the orders on Leonidas as were Eurytos and Aristedemos, was treated in this fashion although it clearly not the just result.

Pantites hung himself, Eurytos was killed by the Persians and only Aristodemos remained to be treated as a tresantes.

So it could be argued that Justice was lacking in this matter altogether as Aristodemos held himself forward in the Ranks of the phalanx at Platea ((Plataia).

In the last movie version of the hot gates, "freedom" was a word used often in the soliquoys of Leonidas as a motivational factor.

Even one who had the minimal notion of how Spartan society functioned would have had to choke that one down with difficulty.

Leonidas probably did say "molon labe" in response to Xerxes demand to deliver their arms to him as it means "come and take them". This was a brave statement and one which showed tremendous courage in the face of 150,000 (at least) highly motivated Persians.

A key note highlighting the Persian King's understanding of the way things are was his order to "punish the sea" by flogging after a storm destroyed the first of the "pontoon" type bridges. However, one can make out the motive if not the perspicacity of Xerxe's order; ie: it is not unknown or unusual in successful armies that the soldier feared his leader (whether centurion or other) more than he feared death or the enemy.

This came from the scion of Cyrus; praised and called the anointed one in the bible himself and whose work on "leadership" (the "Cyriad") was kept in many libraries of our founding fathers, including that of Benjamin Franklin.

I would like to have this text as I have the sneaking suspicion that the initial Persian Ideal of the perfect army might not have matched that of Xerxes.

A great deal may be said in future of what the Bible says of Cyrus and later battles of the Greeks in Antiquity.

I any event Greek (Spartan or Athenian) societies were based on slavery. Building a ship for one's wooden wall was not done by paid laborers in Athens nor were the Helots of Laconian society paid by the hour. This is the "necessary evil" needed by Athens to build their fleet (although they were manned tiller to oarsman, by free men) and the equally if not more oppressive system of keeping the Laconian "helot' slave population in being to do the things that would interfere with the "agoge's" doing its job of training Spartan boys "of quality" to be Professional soldiers and naught else.

The method of payment of the soldiers in Attic and Lakadamon society, and if they were paid except in status or fulfilling their "military obligation" is not know to me.

I encourage questions as I learn only when I get them.

I will monologue hoping that it becomes a discussion and I apologize that the starting verse is so terse.
"All Enlightenment Gratefully Accepted"
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