The Spartans

By Paul Cartledge
(Overlook Press, Hardcover, 9781585674022, 304pp.)

Publication Date: May 2003

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Sparta has often been described as the original Utopia-a remarkably evolved society whose warrior heroes were forbidden any other trade, profession, or business. As a people, the Spartans were the living exemplars of such core values as duty, discipline, the nobility of arms in a cause worth dying for, sacrificing the individual for the greater good of the community (symbolized in the tale of Thermopylae), and the triumph of will over seemingly insuperable obstacles-qualities that today are frequently believed to signify the ultimate heroism.
In a work that resounds with the battle cries of the ancient Greeks, Paul Cartledge, the distinguished scholar and historian who has long been seen as the leading international authority on ancient Sparta, traces the evolution of Spartan society-the culture and the people, as well as the tremendous influence they had on their world and even ours. The narrative also details the lives of such illustrious and myth-making figures as Lycurgus, King Leonidas, Helen of Troy (and Sparta), and Lysander, and explains how the Spartans, although they placed a high value on masculine ideals, nevertheless allowed women an unusually dominant and powerful role-unlike the Athenian culture with which the Spartans are so often compared.
In resurrecting the ancient culture and society of the Spartans, Cartledge delves deep into ancient texts and archeological sources, and complements his text with illustrations that depict original Spartan artifacts and drawings, as well as examples of representational paintings from the Renaissance onward-including J.L. David's famously brooding "Leonidas."
"The Spartans" is an illuminating volume that ties in with the PBS television series of the same name, airing in summer 2003.

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