Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World
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In 480 B.C., the mighty Persian king Xerxes led a massive force to the narrow mountain pass called Thermopylae, anticipating no significant resistance in his bid to conquer Greece. But the Greeks, led by Leonidas and a small army of Spartan warriors, took the battle to the Persians and nearly halted their advance.
Paul Cartledge's riveting, authoritative account of King Leonidas and the legendary 300 illuminates this valiant endeavor that changed the way future generations would think about combat, courage, and death.
(Swansea: Classical Press of Wales) Fisher, N. R. E. 1992 Hybris. A study in the Values of Honour and Shame (Warminster: Aris & Phillips) Fitzhardinge, L. F. 1980 The Spartans (London: Thames & Hudson) Flower, M. A. 1998 ‘Simonides, Ephorus and Herodotus on the Battle of Thermopylae’ Classical Quarterly 48: 365–79 —– & Marincola, J. (eds) 2002 Herodotus Histories: Book IX (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P.) Flusin, M. 1999 ‘Comment les Mèdes ont raconté leur histoire: l’épopée d’Arbacès et le
been massively burdensome. Herodotus tells a jolly moral tale of the reforming lawmaker Solon (appointed troubleshooter at Athens in 594) taking time out from his domestic business to visit Croesus in Sardis and deliver to him a homily on the true nature of happiness for a human being. The implication is that Croesus, though an absolute ruler, was no terrifyingly deadly oriental despot. The practice of stamping gold, electrum (a natural gold-silver mix) and silver coins with distinctive
can at least get an intimate feel for how the administration worked at the centre and for the immense ethnic diversity of this huge realm, the first truly world empire. Consider, for example, the light thrown by the quite recently published Fortification Tablets from Persepolis on the career of a high official whose name in Persian was Parnaka but whom Herodotus transliterated as ‘Pharnaces’ (note that ‘s’). Thanks to Herodotus, we already knew quite a lot about his important son Artabazus.
485 Persia’s imperial writ had not yet been extended over mainland Greece proper. By then his son and successor Xerxes had established himself as Great King, had suppressed rebellions in Babylonia and Egypt, and was considering what sort of a mark he might be able to impose on his king-ship and on the Empire. Herodotus at the start of the seventh book of his Histories records a supposed debate between Xerxes and his closest advisers, especially an uncle called Artabanus. He also presents a good
for remembering salient facts of the past, and an era when written documents were more and more called into play to supplement or substitute for it. Yet from our standpoint Simonides looked back far more to Homer, who sang the ‘famous deeds of men’ (klea andrôn), than forward to the historiography of Herodotus and Thucydides, who sought to explain them as well as – or rather than – praise them. Simonides wrote poems in a number of genres besides that of the encomiastic ode. He is said to have