“Boys looked forward to the public display of their fortitude.”. Spartans lived in harsh conditions, without luxuries, to make them tough fighters. Such harsh punishment was a prominent part of the Spartan training system. Athens was stymied. A humbled and shocked Sparta now took risks, as the general Brasidas sought to break apart the Athenian empire far to the north. foreshadowed a remarkable subsequent twenty-eight-year growth in Lacedaemonian power and influence. “No man was allowed to live as he pleased, but in their city, as in a military encampment, they always had a prescribed regimen,” he wrote. Rahe does not believe that states are just equal players in a game of strategic chess, whose foreign policies hinge on pursuing their self-interest through balances of power, alliances, and preemptive wars. According to Plutarch, Spartans continued regular military training throughout their adult lives. Rahe’s multivolume history is also characterized by a second theme, one of “grand strategy,” the subtitle of two of his volumes. The Greek city-state imposed brutal training and contests that began at age 7. Rahe’s ambitious project is by any measure a remarkable feat—even if at its origins the history was likely never envisioned as a systematic multi-century account of Sparta. Rahe in this additional regard is reminiscent of his advisor Kagan, who had argued that the decisions of the Corinthians, Spartans, Athenians, and others in the Peloponnesian War reflected their own intramural rivalries between war and peace parties. Plato: The Republic Since the mid-nineteenth century, the Republic has been Plato’s most famous and widely read dialogue. Spartan troops drilled relentlessly, until they could execute tactics with perfection. Though the women would never be allowed to partake in the agoge, the Spartan military school training, which all boys had to enter by the age of 7.Spartan women were still given a state … That ended Sparta’s military dominance, though their fearsome reputation lived on through history. “Whipping was a test of courage and stoicism,” Reiter says. An ill-fated Athenian invasion of Boeotia ended up in a decisive defeat by Thebes at Delium. Herodotus relates a curious scene, from the Ionian Revolt (499–493 B.C.) Instead, Greek poleis, like modern nations, are also reflections of all sorts of idiosyncratic internal tensions and competing political, cultural, social, and economic interests. 15. The democracy threatened Sparta with their executions, should they ever invade Attica again. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. In this larger context, Rahe reminds us that Kagan’s approach was neither falsely modernist nor determinist, but empirically reflective of the views of Greek historians, orators, and playwrights, and also epigraphical evidence of strikingly sophisticated political calculations behind foreign policy choices. Rahe emphasizes the underappreciated dynamism of the Spartan constitutional system through its century-long deadly encounters with two powers greater than itself in terms of manpower, material wealth, and empire—Achaemenid Persia and imperial Athens. After that win, a new generation of Spartans, most notably Gylippus and Lysander, soon crafted a grand alliance of victory comprising Boeotians, Sicilians, defecting Athenian subjects, and Persian money—beating the Athenian navy, and thus at last ending the twenty-seven-year-long war. The Ace: Aeneas is seen as an Expy of Odysseus, only without the severe flaws. In their emphases on political and military history, volumes 1 through 4 are likewise often contrarian and antithetical to the current direction of historiography in general, and in particular the more recent cultural focuses of classical studies. The stability that the agoge fostered also “led to a certain inflexibility,” Hodkinson says. WATCH: Spartan Vengeance on HISTORY Vault, Strictly speaking, the Agoge didn’t include military training, which didn’t start in earnest until they became adult soldiers. The Spartan surge between 446 and 418 B.C. It had no easily exchangeable currency or reserves of gold and silver bullion. Further, Sparta was an inland state, with only a rudimentary port at Gythium, some twenty-seven miles distant. This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 39 Number 5, on page 59 Copyright © 2021 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com https://newcriterion.com/issues/2021/1/the-spartan-way-of-war, Topics:Ancient Greek, Ancient history, Sparta, Sparta’s Second Attic War: The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, 446–418, Fyodor Dostoevsky: philosopher of freedom, https://newcriterion.com/issues/2021/1/the-spartan-way-of-war. Sparta, which was a capital of Lacinia and also city-state in ancient Greece, located on the right bank of … The stark lifestyle of Sparta was a contrast to the Athenian focus on thinking and learning. The Sicilian Expedition. “Eventually it produced a sort of conceptual lock when Spartans could not imagine any other kind of life,” Reiter explains. Strategy, in contrast, is the narrower focus on how to envision wartime tactical successes within a more holistic matrix of defeating enemies by military force or isolating them in peace. Rahe rightly notes that the ossified Spartan strategy of agricultural devastation could neither prompt the Athenians to come out to contest their occupied farmland (and thus be defeated) nor do enough damage in brief invasions to starve the city out. “Part of the reason for this was that the boys’ upbringing had instilled behaviors that encouraged harmony and cooperation.”. In this regard Bismarck’s purported quip about the United States—“God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States”—applies well to Sparta. These constant rivalries and gyrations often expressed themselves in volatile foreign policies and help to explain national conduct. Sparta, along with Crete, originated the idea of tripartite consensual government with legislative, judicial, and executive checks and balances. Rahe has noted throughout his volumes that Sparta’s signature helot question was also dual-edged. “Xenophon says a Spartan army could perform maneuvers that others couldn’t, because of their training,” Cartledge says. Sparta’s original paramilitary force, with time and sustenance to train and drill constantly against internal enemies, eventually evolved, by the early fifth century, into a crack expeditionary army, one even deadlier against Greek rivals than against Sparta’s restive serfs. Athenian seaborne raids around the Peloponnese had accomplished little. But Stephen Hodkinson, an professor emeritus of ancient history at the University of Nottingham, UK, says there are hints in other sources that they received “the standard Greek elementary education in reading, writing, numbers, song and dance.”. But it was a vital step toward being selected for one of the messes, the communal dining groups, and becoming a full-fledged Spartan citizen and soldier. READ MORE: 8 Reasons It Wasn't Easy Being Spartan. However, the role of improved schooling, a central part of most development strategies, has become controversial because expansion of school attainment has not guaranteed improved economic conditions. One of the many Spartan enigmas—the reluctance to deploy an otherwise superior military—was not really an enigma at all. As in most other Platonic dialogues the main character is Socrates. That battle mostly ensured that Sparta would not lose in any renewal of the stalemated Second Peloponnesian War. A third implicit premise is Rahe’s attempt to resuscitate the reputation of ancient Sparta. Finally, we must ask whether Athens could have won the Peloponnesian War. The “well-built and sturdy” children were allowed to live, while those who were deemed unhealthy or deformed were left at the foot of a mountain to die. In other words, what made Sparta powerful were its institutions, its traditions, its ethos, and its stable and pragmatic constitution. is the theme of Paul A. Rahe’s fourth volume on Sparta’s history, its culture, and its rivalries with democratic Athens, entitled Sparta’s Second Attic War.1 His envisioned hexalogy will eventually cover three centuries of Spartan growth, dominance, and gradual decline. So Rahe ends his engaging volume not with the Peace of Nicias, as one might have expected, but with Mantinea. Sparta was insular in part because it feared the effects of any massive battle loss on its already fragile demographic makeup. Take A Sneak Peak At The Movies Coming Out This Week (8/12) These NFL players use their star power to make a difference; Weekend Movie Releases – February 5th – February 7th History of citizenship describes the changing relation between an individual and the state, commonly known as citizenship.Citizenship is generally identified not as an aspect of Eastern civilization but of Western civilization. Athen located in Attica, a peninsula with a number of islands and rocky soil; this location enabled Athenain people to choose trading as their economic life. So Spartan leaders were shocked to learn from their Greek brethren that Susa was a three-months’ journey from the Aegean coast—and thus hardly worth the cost of a proposed Panhellenic march into such a vast interior. Sparta was insular in part because it feared the effects of any massive battle loss on its already fragile demographic makeup. Successful grand strategists are excellent military planners, but they additionally properly calibrate national means and ends by assessing economic resources, internal political stability, class interests, and an array of known unknowns from the financial to the psychological. Fourteen years later, a second, and far deadlier, Peloponnesian War broke out. “The boy who excelled in judgement and was most courageous in fighting was made captain of the company,” Plutarch wrote. Learn how your support contributes to our continued defense of truth. At age seven, Spartan boys were turned over by their parents to the state, where they were organized into companies that lived, studied and trained together. It was state-controlled and Plato wanted Athens’ system to be state-controlled as well. “This made it very difficult for Spartans to accept innovation in war or politics.”. and Second (431–404/3 B.C.) Up to this point, as Rahe points out, Sparta’s conservatism had played well. The unthinkable then happened when 292 Spartan survivors of the battle surrendered and were brought to Athens. It is generally accepted that the Republic belongs to the dialogues of Plato’s middle period. Ancient Greek civilization - Ancient Greek civilization - The Peloponnesian War: The causes of the main Peloponnesian War need to be traced at least to the early 430s—the Great Gap period—although if Thucydides was right in his general explanation for the war, namely Spartan fear of Athenian expansion, the development of the entire 5th century and indeed part of the 6th were relevant. But it accomplished all that at great cost, by turning Spartan boys’ childhood into what today would be seen as a traumatic experience. As the conflict ended, a youth in Thebes must have studied the Athenian strategic lessons of their respective successes and failures at Sphacteria and Mantinea. At the war’s end, Sparta had established itself as the only impediment left to an increasingly Athenian Greece. Even today, the word “Spartan” conjures up an image of an awesomely fit, skillful fighter, indifferent to pain and fear. “Sparta was recognized by most as the best.”. The Spartans’ real secret wasn’t physical fitness or indifference to pain and suffering, but rather superior organization. During this cold war, the brilliant Athenian schemer Alcibiades persuaded the Argives and other anti-Spartan forces in the Peloponnese to prompt war with Sparta at Mantinea (418 B.C. All were seen by the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Left as the moral forebears of an empowered Western commune of the proletariat. In a society stereotyped as parochial and unimaginative, it is not surprising to learn that the most innovative, daring, and often successful generals on any side of the war were sons of helot mothers, renegades, and connivers in constant rivalries with stodgy Spartan kings and ephors. and Sparta’s role in the cold war that followed (479–454 B.C. But then again, Rahe was a Ph.D. student under Donald Kagan. The continuing, hard-fought Spartan upswing was capped off by her dramatic victory at the Battle of Mantinea (418 B.C. “It was probably their training in tactical maneuvers which really gave Spartan soldiers their edge on the battlefield,” J.F. 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