First I must admit to you that I made a mistake in class today. In discussing the choice of the ephors, I confused in my mind the way that ephors and the gerousia were chosen. It is the gerousia that is chosen by the Apella shouting, with the ephors locked in the windowless room.
Second for homework tonight, please read the second half of the Plutarch. Take good notes and do the following:
Define these terms:
Be able to describe in detail:
1. The Spartan institution of marriage.
2. The agoge
Answer these questions:
1. What laws and traditions mentioned in this section further illuminate Lycurgus’ desire to make Sparta a strict meritocracy based on physical strength and mental aptitude?
2. Taken with the stories of Charilaus, Alcander, and Lycurgus’ self-imposed exile what does the story of Lycurgus’ death tell us about the important characteristics of
3. According to Plutarch, what causes the deterioration of the Spartan system?
Tonight you will read a selection from another of the great early historians, Plutarch. He was a 1st century AD figure of Greek birth who became a Roman citizen. He was born near the town of Delphi, and later studied in Athens. In addition to his work as a historian, Plutarch worked as a magistrate and an ambassador. He was also a priest for many years at the famous temple in Delphi. Probably his most famous work is Parallel Lives. In it he compares the lives of Greek and Roman leaders, noting particularly their similarity of virtue (or not). You will be reading one of the biographies The Life of Lycurgus. Lycurgus was the semi-mythical Spartan leader who is credited with creating the Spartan system which we will be studying over the next several class periods.
For tonight, please read sections 1-23 (pages 1-7) in The Life of Lycurgus by Plutarch attached below. Be able to define the following terms:
Also consider the following questions:
1. What do the stories of Charilaus and Alcander tell us about the characteristics of leadership valued by the Spartans?
2. What bias from Plutarch must one consider when reading his account of Lycurgus’ trip to Delphi in section #8?
3. What impact did the reforms below have on the nature of Spartan society?
a. Redistribution of land
b. Currency reform
c. Useless and superfluous foreign crafts
Remember as well that you will have an assessment on the Monday after Thanksgiving break covering chapters 1-11. The exercise will consist of 15-20 short answer questions about the plot and the terms. There will also be two or three passages from the book that I will ask you to identify and describe their significance. You will not be able to use your notes for this assessment.
Tonight please read Chapter 11.
Questions and points of emphasis
1. How do the elements of the Spartan agoge reflect their cosmogony?
2. Note Pressfield’s use of epic simile in his battle description.
3. Compare the Spartans and their enemies just before battle
4. What is the significance of “spiking it” or “palming the pine”?
5. What role does hesma phobou play?
6. What do we learn from Leonidas’ post-battle speech?
Read Chapters 8-10
5. Esoterike harmonia
6. Exoterike harmonia
1. How would you compare the description of Spartan military training to that of Astakos (Xeo’s hometown) in Chapter 3?
2. How would you compare Leonidas’ behavior and interaction with his troops to Xerxes’?
3. What can you conclude about the Spartan’s reverence for the shield? Why do think it was so important?
4. What is the significance of the phrase “a mind has many rooms”?
5. Why does Bruxieus emphasize the Iliad and the Odyssey with Dio and Xeo?
6. How do the elements of the Spartan agoge reflect their cosmogony?
For homework, please do the following:
Read chapters 4-7 of Gates of Fire. Continue to underline passages that speak to the larger themes of Greek culture that we have been discussing. Additionally write down the definitions to these terms and consider the questions,
Consider these questions
1. What is Sepeia? What parts of the Spartan system are first mentioned here?
2. What lesson about phobos and agonisma are learned from Tripod’s story?
3. How do the episodes of Dimonache’s rape and Xeones punishment parallel each other?
4. What is the relationship among Dienekes, Alexandros, Xeones, and Tripod?
5. According to Bruxieus, what does a man need to conquer phobos?
6. How is the Greek mission to Rhodes and the surrounding city-states emblematic of the greater divide between the Greek and Persian culture?
7. How does the story of Tommy unfurling the map connect to question #5?
8. What does the Iatrokles/Dienekes/Arete story tell us about Spartan values?
Tomorrow I will be attending the IAC Headmasters meeting. Dr. Schaffer will be teaching class. I’m sure you will enjoy it.
For homework tonight you begin reading Gates of Fire . GOF is a piece of historical fiction. Wiki defines historical fiction as a story that is set in the past. That setting is usually real, drawn from history, and often contains actual historical persons. The main characters, however, tend to be fictional. GOF focuses on a Greek soldier (Xeones) who has been badly injured at the Battle of Thermopylae and captured by the Persians. The story is his recounting of growing up in Greece and eventually becoming a servant to a Spartan soldier. He recounts his story to the Persian king (Xerxes). The text of this book is rather graphic. It has gruesome depictions of war and the collateral damage that accompanies it. There is also quite a bit of foul language.
Read the Introduction and first three chapters of Gates of Fire. As you read, you should be alert to the themes we discussed in class on Friday: arete, eunomia, idiocy, and polis. Additionally the concepts of discipline and fear will be important ones. You should underline passages that illuminate all the above ideas, be able to answer these three questions below and define the terms.
1. How would you describe the interaction between Xoenes and the Persian emperor, Xerxes?
2. What is the significance of Apollo’s appearance in the first chapter?
3. The Spartans have a reputation as one of the most highly disciplined, well-trained fighting forces in history. How would you compare that description to the training of the army of Astakos in Chapter 3?
Terms to know
Some of you have expressed cocern about your ability to be prepared for tomorrow’s assessment because of the Bo Cox event tonight. I have decided to postpone the in-class essay until Monday.