The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge (Yale Library of Military History)

The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge (Yale Library of Military History)

Language: English

Pages: 424

ISBN: 030011642X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A fresh appreciation of the pivotal role of Spartan strategy and tactics in the defeat of the mightiest empire of the ancient world  

More than 2500 years ago a confederation of small Greek city-states defeated the invading armies of Persia, the most powerful empire in the world. In this meticulously researched study, historian Paul Rahe argues that Sparta was responsible for the initial establishment of the Hellenic defensive coalition and was, in fact, the most essential player in its ultimate victory.
Drawing from an impressive range of ancient sources, including Herodotus and Plutarch, the author veers from the traditional Atheno-centric view of the Greco-Persian Wars to examine from a Spartan perspective the grand strategy that halted the Persian juggernaut. Rahe provides a fascinating, detailed picture of life in Sparta circa 480 B.C., revealing how the Spartans’ form of government and the regimen to which they subjected themselves instilled within them the pride, confidence, discipline, and discernment necessary to forge an alliance that would stand firm against a great empire, driven by religious fervor, that held sway over two-fifths of the human race.













who pressed Eurybiades to delay so that they could evacuate from their cities their children and the elderly. When this did not work, Herodotus tells us, they offered Themistocles thirty talents (.855 tons) of silver in return for his persuading the Greeks to remain and fight. He then reportedly bribed the Spartan navarch with five talents and Adeimantus son of Ocytus, the Corinthian commander, with an additional three and kept the change. They all then resolved to stay and see what they could

coast of Asia Minor and in the Hellespontine region. The Spartan navarch and the Peloponnesians who rallied in defense of his stand wanted, above all else, to avoid a battle on land against the Mede—which, for understandable reasons, they feared they might lose. Later, they were no doubt surprised and deeply dismayed to learn that—while Xerxes had, indeed, departed from Europe, as they had hoped—the core of his army had remained behind under the command of his cousin and brother-in-law Mardonius

what we can surmise regarding its depiction in the tripartite painting in the Stoa Poikile is that the painter and the historian accurately reported the course of events as remembered by those who had participated in the battle and as retold by their offspring: cf., however, Vin Massaro, “Herodotos’ Account of the Battle of Marathon and the Picture in the Stoa Poikile,” AC 47:2 (1978): 458–75. Range of Persian artillery and its ineffectiveness against Greek armor: Wallace McLeod, “The Range of

served as a patron and protector for the foreigners—many of them artisans—who flocked to Attica in these years of exceptional prosperity.37 Hippias, who took the lead after his father’s death, pursued the same policy with similar success. He continued his father’s building program—it was his son Peisistratus who was responsible for constructing the altar of the twelve gods—and Hippias himself appears to have coined the first of the tetradrachms which came to be known as Athens’ Owls. His younger

an impulsive man quite capable of so shocking a deed. Moreover, at the time, he appears to have been more hostile to the Mede than any other figure of importance at Lacedaemon. In any case, what we do know without a doubt is that in the aftermath, when the Spartans sacrificed victims, the omens were consistently bad.48 It would be a mistake to underestimate the seriousness with which the Spartans regarded such matters. In a passage pertaining to Apollo, Herodotus tells us that the Spartans “made

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