The Spartans

Front Cover
Overlook Press, May 26, 2003 - History - 304 pages

The Spartans were a society of warrior-heroes who were the living exemplars of such core values as duty, discipline, self-sacrifice, and extreme toughness. This book, written by one of the world’s leading experts on Sparta, traces the rise and fall of Spartan society and explores the tremendous influence the Spartans had on their world and even on ours. 

The Spartans is a compelling narrative that explores the culture and civilization of the most famous "warrior people": the Spartans of ancient Greece, by the world's leading expert in the field. 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 (illustrated by their role in the battle of Thermopylae), and the triumph of will over seemingly insuperable obstacles--qualities that today are frequently believed to signify the ultimate heroism. Paul Cartledge is the distinguished scholar and historian who has long been seen as the leading international authority on ancient Sparta. He 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. He details throughout the narrative 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 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 onwards--including J.L. David's famously brooding "Leonidas." This illuminating volume that ties in with the PBS television series of the same name, airing in the summer of 2003. Booklist called Cartledge's The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization, a companion to the PBS series, "superb," while The International History Review called Cartledge's The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece "an original and insightful work."

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THE SPARTANS: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, from Utopia to Crisis and Collapse

User Review  - Kirkus

A lucid, literate history of a model society—though whether a model of good or evil remains a subject of debate.Tucked among the nearly impenetrable mountains of southern Greece, Sparta was less an ... Read full review

The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, from Utopia to Crisis and Collapse

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Given the preeminence of Athens, Sparta is frequently overlooked. But it did win the Peloponnesian War, and those studying slavery and colonization ignore it at their risk. Sparta itself limits what ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Paul Cartledge is the inaugural A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Clare College. He is also Hellenic Parliament Global Distinguished Professor in the History and Theory of Democracy at New York University. He written and edited over 20 books, many of which have been translated into foreign languages. He is an honorary citizen of modern Sparta and holds the Gold Cross of the Order of Honor awarded by the President of Greece.

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