The Shadow of Sparta
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In the past twenty years the study of Sparta has come of age. Images prevalent earlier in the 20th century, of Spartans as hearty good fellows or scarlet-cloaked automata, have been superseded by more complex scholarly reactions. As interest has grown in the self-images projected by this most secretive of Greek cities, increasing attention has focused on how individual Greek writers from other states reacted to information, or disinformation about Sparta.
The studies in this volume provide new insights into the traditional historians' question, "What actually happened at Sparta?". But the implications of the work go far beyond Laconia. They concern preoccupations of some of the most studied of Greek writers, and help towards an understanding of how Athenians defined the achievment, or the failure, of their own city.
book, in 2 6. All the modern comments discussed here take away in principle Aristotle’s right to give a very differentiated and discriminating picture of Sparta. They tend to make him decide between simply damning and praising her. A reference to Aristotle’s attitude towards Plato’s Laws can prove that such an approach is wrong: after reading Pol. 2 6, one could indeed have the impression that Aristotle criticizes indifferently everything about Plato’s Laws. However one has to take into account
Foucault, The Use of Pleasure (Harmondsworth 1986) esp. 217 ff., Winkler, The Constraints of Desire (London 1990) 54 ff. 79 Cf. Wallace, Areopagos Council 108 ff., 176 f.; Hansen, Athenian Democracy 291 f.; Ellis, Philip II 131 ff., on these events. On the dates of the Timarchos speech and the Antiphon and Amphictyony interventions, cf. most recently Wankel, Hermes 116 (1988) 383 ff. (Timarchos’ trial early in 345), against Harris, Hermes 113 (1985) 376 ff. (late summer 346). 80 He was,
chaste daughter of Leda (1306–15). III How about the character of the Spartans? The charge that is brought against them most frequently in Aristophanes is that they are deceitful. Thus in the Acharnians (308) they are described as men who respect no altar, no handshake, no oath – in other words, none of the constituent parts of a treaty. Similarly, in the Peace there is a whole series of images which represent the Spartans as animal tricksters: monkeys, foxes, crabs, hedgehogs. Elsewhere, it is
is: Thucydides cannot be said to be right or wrong; we would have to put Spartans on the couch and probe their psyches to answer that question. His approach is valid and his analysis is the analysis of one of history’s finest minds, but, nonetheless, an Athenian mind. A Spartan, if there had been one of comparable genius, could have used the same method to describe an Athenian national character, psychologically restless, tyrannical, grasping, a character which made peace impossible. 48 Thuc.
(Cambridge 1952) ch. 3, esp. 79–84. 10 Oliva’s verdict (art. cit., 5–7) on C.O. Müller, Die Dorier (Breslau 1824). 11 A. Roobaert, ‘Le danger hilote?’, Ktema 2 (1977) 141–55. 12 R.J.A. Talbert, ‘The role of the helots in the class struggle at Sparta’, Historia 38 (1989) 22–40, an article that specifically confronts Paul Cartledge’s conception of Sparta; some of Talbert’s arguments are already presented in G.L. Cawk-well, ‘The decline of Sparta’, CQ 33 (1983) 385–400 at 390–5. For a