Ancient History & Civilisation


The following bibliography is selective, and reflects chiefly works in English that I have drawn upon directly and have sometimes cited in the text or notes. The topics I have been dealing with – Sparta, the Graeco-Persian Wars, Herodotus – are among those most heavily researched by specialist historians of ancient Greece and the Near and Middle East, and the Achaemenid Empire is coming up hard on the rails for a number of different, mutually reinforcing reasons: prominently among them, the increasing availability of primary written and archaeological data, and the subject’s extreme topical interest. But I have tried to make the selection helpful also for those who wish to pursue their enquiries further and more deeply in a scholarly way. Some works, of course, apply to more than one chapter, but I have normally listed them only where I have found them to be most helpful and relevant.

One – The Ancient World in 500 BCE: From India to the Aegean

Several useful general works on ancient Greek history cover the period of the Graeco-Persian Wars: see esp. Bengtson et al. 1969 (mainly written by Bengtson himself with the addition of chapters by specialists on particular topics or areas); Cartledge 2001a (biographical) and Cartledge (ed.) 1998 (a richly illustrated history by divers hands, mainly that of the editor); Fornara 1983 (translated ‘documents’); Freeman 1999; Grote 1846–56: chs 39–40 (outdated, clearly, but pioneering and still consultable with profit); Kebric 1997: ch. 5 (‘The Problem with Persia’, a prosopographical/biographical approach via the lives of Polygnotus, Ephialtes, Artemisia and Timarete); Osborne 1996 (expert up-to-date problematizing synthesis) and 2002 (special reference to Herodotus). For interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks, with special emphasis on the archaeological evidence, see Boardman 1999; for a selection of archaeological artefacts with illustrations, see Boardman 1988.

On the wars specifically, see Balcer 1989 and 1995; Burn 1984 (admirably written, originally published 1962, with updated addenda by D. Lewis); Cawkwell 2004 (masterly but argumentative and controversial); Green 1970/1996 (the best single relevant work, to be returned to often); Hignett 1963 (excessively nitpicking but indispensable for scholars). On Spartan history in particular, see Cartledge 1979/2001 and other general works cited under Chapter Four.

The relationship between, and antithesis of, Greeks and non-Greek ‘barbarians’, especially Persians, are explored in any number of publications, beginning with the landmark lectures of Momigliano 1975. See generally Coleman & Walz (eds) 1997; Georges 1994; Hall, J. M. 1997, 2002; Harrison 2000b; Harrison (ed.) 2002; Khan (ed.) 1993; Malkin (ed.) 2001; and Walser 1984. And for specific angles, see, e.g., Cartledge 2002 (an attempt to reconstruct the Greeks’ worldview through negative self-definition); Drews 1973 (Greek historiography); Ehrenberg 1974a (East v. West), 1974b (freedom); Hall, E. 1989 and Hall, E. (ed.) 1996 (tragic drama, esp. Aeschylus’s Persians of 472); Hornblower 2001 (war); Konstan 1987 (empire); Malkin 2004 (religion – e.g., p. 350 ‘So what [Herodotus] means is, “Ammon is how you say ‘Zeus’ in Egyptian”’); Miller 1997 (stressing Athenian cultural borrowings from Persia); Pelling 1997 (de-emphasizing the ‘East v. West’ dichotomy); Stronk 1990–1 (Sparta and Persia); and West 1997 (Greek cultural borrowings).

Two The Dynamics of Empire: Persia of the Achaemenids, 485

Anything written by distinguished Collège de France professor Pierre Briant may safely be recommended with great enthusiasm: Briant 2002 is a behemoth, in English translation; 1999 is a snappier version, also in English; cf. 1989/2002, 1997–2001.

There are many good general histories of ancient Persia and the Persian Empire: e.g., Cook 1983; Curtis 2000 (expert guide by British Museum curator); Frye 1963 and 1984; Gershevitch (ed.) 1985; Ghirshman 1971 (excellent pictures from the official commemorative volume of the then Shah’s 2,500th anniversary celebrations of the ancient Persian monarchy); Herzfeld 1968 (by the excavator of Persepolis); Laroche 1971/1974: pp. 84–116 (pictures better even than Ghirshman); Lockhart & Boyle 1978; Olmstead 1948 (e.g., ch. XX ‘New Year’s Day at Persepolis’); Wheeler 1968; and Wiesehöfer 1994/2001. The most recent, Allen 2005, deserves special praise: it is intelligently written, not loaded with prejudice, beautifully illustrated throughout, and includes an exemplary bibliography. It incidentally casts a strange light on the title (Forgotten Empire) of Curtis & Tallis (eds) 2005, the worthy catalogue of an intriguing small exhibition including artefacts never before seen outside Iran, also published by the British Museum Press.

On archaeology and iconography, see Boardman 1999 and 2000; Loukonine & Ivanov 1996/2003; Moorey 1988; Nylander 1970 (Ionians in Pasargadae); Pope 1975/1999: ch. 4 (decipherment of Persian cuneiform); Root 1979; Root 1985; Schmandt-Bessarat (ed.) 1980; Stronach 1978 (Pasargadae, Cyrus’s original capital).

On administration, see Abraham 2004 (Egibi business house); Briant & Herrenschmidt (eds) 1989 (tribute); Brosius (ed. and trans.) 2000 (documents) and 2003 (Persepolis archives); Cameron 1948 (Persepolis Treasury Texts); Cardascia 1951 (Murashu banking house); French 1998 (Royal Road); Graf 1994 (roads); Hallock 1969, 1972 (Persepolis archives); Herrenschmidt 1996/2000 (Old Persian); Kent 1953 (Old Persian); Lewis 1994 and 1997: pp. 325–31 (Persepolis fortification texts); Petit 1990 (satraps); Stolper 1985 (Murashu banking house); Tuplin 1987 (general) and 1998 (seasonal migration of kings).

On military matters, see Sekunda & Chew 1992.

On historiography, see Burkert 2004; Drews 1973; Robinson 1995; Sancisi-Weerdenburg 1983, 1989/2002, 1999; Sancisi-Weerdenburg & Kuhrt (eds) 1987–91 (6 vols); and Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Kuhrt & Root (eds) 1991.

On the Medes, see Cuyler Young 1988; Flusin 1999; Lewis 1980 and 1997 (Datis).

On Zoroastrian religion, see Boyce 1975/1982/1991; and Godrej & Punthakey Mistree (eds) 2002.

On women and society, see Brosius 1996.

For other particular aspects, see Badian 1998 (Indians in royal service); Balcer 1993 (prosopography); Cook 1985 (rise of Achaemenids); Curtis (ed.) 1997 (Mesopotamia and Iran); Dandamaev 1994 (Media and Iran); Dusinberre 2003 (Sardis); Frye 1964 (kingship); Harmatta (ed.) 1994 (central Asia); Kuhrt 1995 (within the context of Near Eastern history generally); Kuhrt 1988 and Sealey 1976 (‘earth and water’); Lewis 1977 (Sparta); Llewellyn-Jones 2002 (eunuchs); Pope 1975/1999 and Robinson 1995 (decipherment of Persian cuneiform); Potts 1999 (Elam, of which Susa was the principal city); Romey & Rose 2001 (an archaeological ‘fake’, purporting to be the tomb and corpse of an Achaemenid princess); Root 1985 (kingship); Sancisi-Weerdenburg 1999 (Kings and historiography); Sekunda & Warry 1998 (Alexander the Great’s campaign against Darius III); Sherwin-White 1978 (diplomacy).

Three Hellas: The Hellenic World in 485

See suggestions for Chapter One. Also Austin 1990 (tyrants); Badian 1994 (Macedonians); Brunt 1953/1993 (‘Hellenic League’); Ellinger 2002 (Pan); Evans 1976, Georges 2000, and Murray 1988 (Ionian Revolt).

Four Sparta 485: A Unique Culture and Society

Among general works see Cartledge 1979/2001(based originally on 1975 archaeological–historical doctoral dissertation, updated in new edition); Cartledge 1987 (mainly on the period 445–360 but with earlier relevance); Cartledge 2001b (selected essays, both reprinted in updated form and original); Cartledge 2003 (history aimed at the general reader covering esp. the last seven centuries BCE); Cartledge 2004 (the basis of the Epilogue, p. 119–213); Christ 1986/1996 (admirable introductory essay to Christ (ed.) 1986, a fine collection of reprinted essays in German or German translation with excellent bibliography); Clauss 1983 (useful mainly for bibliography); Ducat 1999b (Spartan society and war, one of a series of articles by a leading French expert on ancient Sparta); Ehrenberg 1946: ch. 4 (essay controversially debates whether Sparta was ‘totalitarian’ or merely authoritarian, still relevant despite heavy overdetermination by original context of publication and miserable personal experience); Fitzhardinge 1980 (a useful and handsomely illustrated survey of Spartan archaeology in the ‘Archaic’ period, c. 700–500); Forrest 1968/1980 (‘This account of Spartan history has not shown much sympathy with Sparta; sympathy is killed by the narrow-minded jealousy she showed for so long to anyone whose power looked like becoming greater than her own and by the utter inhumanity of her behaviour when her own power was supreme [after 404]’, p. 152, written in 1967/8); Hooker 1980 (thematically organized, very good on religion); Lazenby 1985 (army, ch. 4 on Thermopylae, an essential preliminary to Lazenby 1993); Lendon 2005: p. 352 n. 20 (Spartan drill); Lewis 1977 (esp. relations with Persia); Ollier 1933–43, Powell & Hodkinson (eds) 1994, Rawson 1969/1991 and Tigerstedt 1965, 1974 (all variously addressed to the Spartan ‘myth’); Powell (ed.) 1989 and Powell & Hodkinson (eds) 2002 (two excellent collections of essays, edited by two of the leading British scholars of Sparta); Welwei 2004 (the latest general survey of Spartan history by a well respected senior scholar); and Whitby (ed.) 2001 (imaginatively edited selection of reprinted essays, sometimes abridged and/or translated into English).

Three of the major Spartan personalities are the half-brothers King Cleomenes I and his successor Leonidas, and Pausanias the Regent, all from the Agiad royal house: on Cleomenes, see Ste Croix 2004 (pp. 438–40 are an editorial Afterword, with bibliography); on Leonidas, Baltrusch 1999; Connor 1979 (reburial of remains decades after 480); Grant 1961: pp. 20–4; and Harvey 1979 (was L. somehow implicated in the death of Cleomenes?); on Pausanias, there is a huge and growing literature, most recently Ellinger 2005 (the ‘other’ Pausanias is the 2nd-century CE religious travel writer); see also above, Appendix 1 (Simonides). For possible visual representations, see Krumeich 1997: pp.151–78.

No proper history of Sparta can be written without due attention to the troublesome economic basis of Spartan society and power, the Helots: see esp. Ducat 1990 (the first modern general study); Hunt 1997 (part of an immensely original and persuasive attack on the failure of the major Greek historians to give due attention to the role of the unfree in warfare) and 1998 (more controversial attempt to find a major role for Helots at the Battle of Plataea); and Luraghi & Alcock (eds) 2003 (published version of the first major international conference ever dedicated specifically to Helot issues).

No proper history of Sparta can be written, either, without due attention to Spartan religion: Parker 1989 is an exemplary account.

Various aspects of Spartan society and mores are expertly addressed in the following: David 1992 (hair-dressing and maintenance) and 2004 (suicide, two essays by the leading Israeli scholar of Sparta); Figueira (ed.) 2004 (an admirable collection edited by the leading American scholar of Sparta); Hammond, M. 1980 (‘with your shield – or on it!’ explained); Hodkinson 2000 (major study of property power); Hornblower 2000 (violence) and Rankin 1993: p. 187 (Sparta a ‘society dedicated to the infliction of terror and violence’); Kennell 1995 (history of the timing of introduction of the full-blown educational system, dated rather too late to my mind); Loraux 1995: esp. pp. 70–3, and Piccirilli 1995 (attitudes to death); Miller, W. I. 2000: ch. 2 (the behaviour and fate of Aristodamus, who though one of the 300 did not die at Thermopylae); Richer 1994 and Toher 1999 (burial of kings).

One of the great peculiarities of Sparta was the high status and profile of Spartan women, variously accounted for or elaborated on in Blundell 1995: pp. 150–8; Cartledge 1981/2001; Ducat 1998 and 1999a; Hodkinson 2000; Millender 2002 (brilliant study of role played by Athenian ideology); Powell 1999 (political role) and 2004.

Five Thermopylae I: Mobilization

Six Thermopylae II: Preparations for Battle

Seven Thermopylae III: The Battle

I have run together here reading suggestions relating to all stages of the evolution of the Thermopylae scenario. (See also Chapter One, pp. 15–28, for the Graeco-Persian Wars in general.)

For military aspects of the Graeco-Persian Wars generally, see De Souza 2003: pp. 54–8; Grundy 1901; Hammond, N. 1988; Hanson 1998 (perhaps our best military historian of Greek antiquity, claims to identify a specifically ‘Western’ way of warfare, brilliantly exemplified by the Greeks in 480–479), 1999 and 2001 (the first of his nine ‘landmark’ battles is Salamis); Hignett 1963; Holland 2005 (imaginatively conceived and brilliantly written account by an amateur historian of genius); Lazenby 1993 (with Green 1970/1996, the indispensable basic account); Ober 1990 and Starr 1962/1979 (why did Persia lose?); Pritchett 1971–91 (essays of immense learning and range); Sekunda & Hook 1998 (sound narrative with interestingly colourful artistic recreations); Strauss 2004a (Salamis).

For the Thermopylae campaign specifically, see Burn 1968: pp. 88–92, with fig. on p. 89 (eastern arrowheads); Cawkwell 2004; Clarke 2003 (claims unpersuasively that Sparta pushed the warrior ethos beyond the limits of sanity); Dascalakis 1956; Dillery 1996, Flower 1998, Hammond, N. 1996 and Van Wees 2004: pp. 180–3 (historiography – see also Appendix I); Evans 1964 and 1969; Grant 1961; Hodkinson 2000: pp. 157, 158 (Dieneces); Hope Simpson 1972; Strauss 2004b; Thomson 1921; Tuplin 2003 (Xerxes’s march from Doriscus to Therme); Whatley 1964 (focused on Marathon but of immensely wider historiographical application, emphasizing just how much – or rather how little – we can ever hope to know about any ancient battle).

One of the major issues of scholarly debate concerns the topography: Burn 1977: pp. 98–103; Grundy 1929; Kraft et al. 1987 and Szemler, Cherf & Kraft 1996 (sufficiently refuted by Cawkwell 2004: Appendix 5; compare Lazenby Classical Review n.s. 48 (1998), 522: ‘it will take far better arguments than these to convince me that Leonidas died fighting in a pass that did not exist’); Marinatos 1951 (pp. 61–9, results of 1939 excavation); Pritchett 1958, 1965 (on the battle of 191 BCE; ‘It is quite apparent that most of those who write about the battles have never left the carriage roads’, p. 71) and 1982 (summation); Wallace 1980 (Anopaea pass). Another major issue is whether Leonidas dismissed the allies before the final battle or they dismissed themselves (i.e. fled or melted away): see, e.g., Dascalakis 1957; Grant 1961 (one of the few to take account of Leonidas’s personal and familial situation, though far from entirely persuasively).

A side issue but an engaging one is the alleged medism of Caryae, a Perioecic city on the northern border of Laconia: Huxley 1967. ‘Caryatids’, support columns in the form of women, most famously used in the Erechtheum temple on the Athenian Acropolis, are named after the women of Caryae.

Eight The Thermopylae Legend I: Antiquity

On the Spartan legend (etc.) in antiquity generally, see Ollier 1933–43, the earlier chapters of Rawson 1969, and Tigerstedt 1965, 1974, 1978; in brief, Christ 1986/1996. Also Ehrenberg 1974a (West v. East) and 1974b (freedom). Hölkeskamp 2001 is a comparable study of the legend of Marathon.

Nine The Thermopylae Legend II: From Antiquity to Modernity

The post-Antique reception of ancient Sparta, and of the Thermopylae legend in particular, is richly varied. Barzano et al. (eds) 2003 is a collection of essays looking at the transmission of heroic models from antiquity to modernity; Clough 2004 is a useful overview of the legend from a Western perspective; Rebenich 2004 is an acute account specifically of the German reception, especially historiographical. The later chapters of Rawson 1969 are the best attempt yet at covering the entire post-Antique reception of Sparta within the European, and by extension North American, cultural tradition.

What follows are just some illustrations that I have been able to use in this book: de Botton 2004: pp. 187–8 (brief discussion of Sparta in a chapter entitled ‘Ideal Human Types’); Buchan 1912 (short fictional story about a man from the island of Lemnos who gets caught up in the Thermopylae–Artemisium conflict); Byron 1981 (1937) (not Lord Byron, but the twentieth-century Robert Byron, debunker of classicizing pieties and champion of Iranian and Islamic art and culture: ‘There are still things to be said about Persepolis’, p. 165); Golding 1965 (an occasional piece prompted by a visit to the ‘Hot Gates’); Hall & Macintosh (eds) 2005 (Persians and Greeks on the British stage); Hughes (ed.) 1944 (a brave tribute to the brave Greeks of the Second World War, published while Greece was still occupied); Keeley 1999 (reminiscences of literary Greece during the 1930s and 40s, much talk of C. P. Cavafy); Losemann 1977 (Nazi misappropriations); Macgregor Morris 2000a, 2000b, 2004 (eighteenth-century handling of the Thermopylae tradition, especially by Richard Glover); Manfredi 2002 (historical novel by a professional classical archaeologist and historian set in the early fifth century BCE world of Sparta; starts badly, from the manifestly unhistorical premise that the apparently deformed infant son of a noble Spartan family would be exposed in such a manner as to be rescuable by an extreme nationalist Helot family that raises him as a nationalist Helot – to fight, eventually, against his own brother, in the manner of Polynices and Eteocles of ancient Greek myth, and more recently the brothers in Theo Angelopoulos’s tragic film The Weeping Meadow); Miller, Frank 1998, 1999 (the ‘graphic novels’ that will be the basis of the movie 300; cf. Winkler 2000 for a discussion of the Hollywood war-movie genre in its relation to Classical models and inspirations); Montaigne 1991 (his late-sixteenth-century essais include ‘On the Cannibals’ in which, rather surprisingly perhaps, his acute judgement of Thermopylae is to be found, pp. 238–9 of Screech’s Penguin Classics edition: ‘True victory lies in your role in the conflict, not in coming safely through’); Pinelli 2005 (David’s Léonidas); and, last but by no means least, Pressfield 1999 (an ‘epic’ novel is just right; the author has done extensive homework, writes boldly and evocatively, and his imaginative supplements are usually soundly based).

Epilogue Thermopylae: Turning-point in World History

Cartledge 2004 provides full annotation. Most references are of course to be found elsewhere in this book anyway.

Those who wish to pursue the analogy I have tried to develop between the Spartan way of death at Thermopylae and Japanese patriotic suicides at the end of the Second World War may wish to consult a remarkable collection of testimonies by students enlisted in the various Special Attack Units which came to be labelled kamikaze (‘divine wind’): Listen to the Voices from the Sea: Writings of the Fallen Japanese Students (Kike Wadatsumi no Koe), compiled by Nihon Senbotsu Gakusei Kinen-Kai; trans. Midori Yamanouchi and Joseph L. Quinn SJ (Scranton: University of Scranton Press, 2000). For example, Hachiro Sasaki writes on 11 June 1943: ‘I wish to die beautifully as a person in the midst of a supreme effort’ (cf. Loraux 1995 on the Spartans’ ‘beautiful death’); but whereas the Spartan 300 were elite soldiers, Sasaki continues, ‘As an unknown member of society, my only option is to live and die while remaining faithful to my duties and responsibilities’ (both quotations, p. 122). He was killed in action on 14 April 1945 over the Okinawa Sea.

Appendix 1 and Appendix 3 – Herodotus

The most accessible and usable English translation for non-specialists is probably Herodotus 1996, as corrected and updated by John Marincola. See also Herodotus 2004, revised throughout by Donald Lateiner. Romm ed. 2003 is a good selection in translation with the editor’s running commentary. In their excellent recent scholarly commentary on Herodotus Book 9 Flower and Marincola (eds) 2002 deal fully with his account of Plataea, which sealed the Greeks’ victory over the invading Persians; see also their Introduction, 20ff., and Appendixes A and D. A commentary of similar quality on Book 7, the Thermopylae book, would be well received.

It is a good index of Herodotus’s current ‘popularity’ among scholars that he has been the subject of no fewer than five major collective volumes within the past five years alone: Bakker et al. (eds) 2002; Derow & Parker (eds) 2003; Karageorghis & Taifacos (eds) 2004; Luraghi (ed.) 2001; and Greenwood & Irwin (eds) forthcoming. Major general works to be highly recommended include: Gould 1989; Hartog 1988; Lateiner 1989; Munson 2001; and Thomas 2000. Other smaller general studies include: Marincola 2001; Momigliano 1966; Osborne 2002; and Romm 1998. Fehling 1989 should be read only as the curiosity that it is.

The following analyse in close detail, from the point of view of source criticism among others, Herodotus’s account of Thermopylae: Dillery 1996; Flower 1998; Flower & Marincola (eds) 2002; and Van Wees 2004: p. 180–3.

The following selection will also give some small inkling of the immense range of Herodotus’s interests and of the topics on which he has something eminently worth reading: Boedeker 1987a (invention of history) and 1987b (Demaratus); Cartledge 1995 (Greek identity); Dewald 1981 (women); Forrest 1979 (Ionian Revolt); Forsdyke 2001: pp. 341–54, and 2002 (Spartan despotism); Georges 1986 (oracles and credibility); Harrison 2000a (religion); Lévy 1999 (Sparta); Lewis 1997: pp. 345–61 (Persians); Mikalson 2003 (religion); Millender 2002a and 2002b (Spartan despotism); Moles 2002 (H. and Athens); Moyer 2002 (reliability of H. on Egypt defended); Munson 1988 (Artemisia) and 1993 (Spartan kingship); Murray 1987 (oral historiography); Raaflaub 1987 (historiography) and 2002 (H. as intellectual); Redfield 1985 (H. as ethnographer); Stahl, H.-P. 1975 (Croesus’s conversations); Waters 1971 (tyrants and despots).

Simonides, the texts are easily accessible in D. A. Campbell’s excellent Loeb Classical Library edition and translation. The major event in Simonides studies recently has been the partial recovery on papyrus of his post-epic poem on Plataea, apparently commissioned by the Spartans and for performance at Sparta: Boedeker 1995, 1998a, 1998b: p.190, 2001a, 2001b; Boedeker & Sider (eds) 2001. For a fine pre-discovery account, see Davies, A. 1981 (in a chapter on ‘Lyric and Other Poetry’); compare Davies, M. 2004: p. 278 (the story of Simonides’s remembering where all the guests had been sitting at a banquet in Thessaly, after the banqueting hall was wrecked by an earthquake and all the guests killed – while Simonides himself was said to have escaped through divine intervention). On the 480 Spartan poems specifically, see Molyneux 1992: pp. 186–7; and Podlecki 1968.

On Ctesias, see Auberger 1991; Lenfant 2004 (texts, translation); and Bigwood 1978.

On Diodorus (Book XI), see Green 2006 (translation and commentary).

Other sources are Bowen ed. 1992 (Plutarch on the malice of Herodotus); Rood 1999 (Thucydides on the Greco-Persian Wars; cf. Cawkwell 2004); Talbert (ed. and trans.) 2005 (Plutarch and Xenophon on Spartan lives, sayings and society).

Books, Articles, Commentaries, Editions

Abraham, K. 2004 Business and Politics under the Persian Empire: The Financial Dealings of Marduk-nasir-apli of the House of Egibi (521–487 BCE) (Bethesda, Md.: Occasional Publications of the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Program of Jewish Studies, Cornell University)

Allen, L. 2005 The Persian Empire. A History (London: British Museum Press)

Auberger, J. 1991 Ctésias. Histoires de l’Orient (Paris: Les Belles Lettres)

Austin, M. M. 1990 ‘Greek tyrants and the Persians, 546–479 BCE’ Classical Quarterly n.s. 40: 289–306

Badian, E. 1994 ‘Herodotus on Alexander I of Macedon: a study in some subtle silences’ in S. Hornblower (ed.) Greek Historiography (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 107–30

1998 ‘The King’s Indians’ in W. Will (ed.) Alexander der Grosse. Eine Welteroberung und ihr Hintergrund (Bonn: Habelt) 205–24

Bakker, E. J., de Jong, I. J. F. & van Wees, H. 2002 (eds) Brill’s Companion to Herodotus (Leiden: Brill)

Balcer, J. M. 1989 ‘The Persian Wars against Greece: a reassessment’ Historia 38: 127–43

—–1993 A Prosopographical Study of the Ancient Persians Royal and Noble c. 550–450 BC (Lewiston, New York)

—– 1995 The Persian Conquest of the Greeks 545– 450 BC (Konstanz: Universitäts-Verlag)

Baltrusch, E. 1999 ‘Leonidas und Pausanias’ in K. Brodersen (ed.) GrosseGestalten der griechischen Antike (Munich: Beck) 310–18

Barzano, A. et al. 2003 (eds) Modelli eroici dell’ antichità alla cultura europea (Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider)

Bengtson, H. et al. 1969 The Greeks and the Persians. From the Sixth to the Fourth Centuries (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson) (German original 1965)

Bigwood, J. M. 1978 ‘Ctesias as historian of the Persian Wars’ Phoenix 32: 19–41

Blundell, S. 1995 Women in Ancient Greece (London: British Museum Press)

Boardman, J. 1988 ‘The Greek World’ Cambridge Ancient History plates to vol. IV: 95–178 (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P.)

—–1999 The Greeks Overseas, 4th edn (London: Thames & Hudson)

—– 2000. Persia and the West. An Archaeological Investigation of the Genesis of Achaemenid Art (London: Thames & Hudson)

Boedeker, D. 1987a ‘Herodotus and the invention of history’ Arethusa 20: 5–8

1987b ‘The two faces of Demaratus’ Arethusa 20: 185–201

1995 ‘Simonides on Plataea: narrative elegy, mythodic history’ Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 107: 217–29

—– 1998a ‘The New Simonides and heroization at Plataea’ in N. Fisher & H. Van Wees (eds) Archaic Greece: New Approaches and New Evidence (London: Duckworth) 231–49

—– 1998b ‘Presenting the past in fifth-century Athens’ in D. Boedeker & K. A. Raaflaub (eds) Democracy, Empire, and the Arts in Fifth-Century Athens (Cambridge, Mass., & London: Harvard U.P.) 185–202

—– 2001a ‘Heroic historiography: Simonides and Herodotus on Plataea’ in Boedeker & Sider (eds) 2001: 120–34 —– 2001b ‘Paths to heroization at Plataea’ in Boedeker & Sider (eds) 2001: 148–63

—– & Sider, D. 2001 (eds) The New Simonides: Contexts of Praise and Desire (Oxford: Oxford U.P.)

de Botton, A. 2004 Status Anxiety (London: Hamish Hamilton)

Bowen, A. J. 1992 (ed.) Plutarch: The Malice of Herodotus (Warminster: Aris & Phillips)

Boyce, M. 1975/1982/1991 A History of Zoroastrianism, 3 vols (Leiden: Brill)

Briant, P. 1989/2002 ‘History and ideology: the Greeks and Persian “decadence”’ in Harrison (ed.) 2002: 193–210

—– 1997–2001 Bulletin d’histoire achéménide (I–II) (TOPOI suppls 1, 2)

—– 1999 ‘The Achaemenid Empire’ in K. Raaflaub & N. Rosenstein (eds) War and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe, and Mesoamerica (Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies) 105–28

—– 2002 From Cyrus to Alexander. A History of the Persian Empire (Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake) (French original 1996)

—– & Herrenschmidt, C. 1989 (eds) Le Tribut dans l’empire perse (Paris & Louvain: Peeters)

Brosius, M. 1996. Women in Ancient Persia (559–331 BCE) (Oxford: Oxford U.P.)

—– 2000 (ed. and trans.) The Persian Empire from Cyrus II to Artaxerxes I (LACTOR 16) (London: London Association of Classical Teachers)

—– 2003 ‘Reconstructing an archive: account and journal texts from Persepolis’ in Brosius (ed.) Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions. Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World (Oxford: Oxford U.P.) 264–83

Brunt, P. A. 1953/1993 ‘The Hellenic League against Persia’, repr. in Studies in Greek History and Thought (Oxford: Oxford U.P.) 47–74, with addenda 75–83

Buchan, John 1912 ‘The Lemnian’ in The Moon Endureth (London: Hodder & Stoughton) ch. III

Burkert, W. 2004 Babylon, Memphis, Persepolis: Eastern Contexts of GreekCulture (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P.)

Burn, A. R. 1968 The Warring States of Greece (London: Thames & Hudson) 88–92

—– 1977 ‘Thermopylai revisited and some topographical notes on Marathon and Plataiai’ in K. H. Kinzl (ed.) Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean in Ancient History and Prehistory. Studies Presented to Fritz Schachermeyr on his Eightieth Birthday (Berlin & New York: W. de Gruyter) 89–105, at 98–103

—– 1984 Persia and the Greeks. The Defence of the West 546–478 BC, rev. edn (London: Duckworth) (original edn 1962)

Byron, R. 1981 The Road to Oxiana (repr. London: Picador) (original edn 1937)

Cambridge Ancient History[CAH] 1988 vol. IV, 2nd edn Persia, Greece and the Western Mediterranean c. 525–479 BC (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P.) esp. pt I ‘The Persian Empire’

Cameron, G. G. 1948 Persepolis Treasury Tablets (Chicago: Oriental Institute)

Cardascia, G. 1951 Les archives de Murashu (Paris: ??)

Cartledge, P. A. 1979/2001 Sparta and Lakonia. A Regional History1300–362 BC, 2nd edn (Routledge: London & New York)

—– 1981/2001 ‘Spartan wives: liberation or licence?’ Classical Quarterly 31: 84–105, updated repr. in Cartledge 2001b: ch. 9

—– 1987 Agesilaos and the Crisis of Sparta (London: Duckworth, & Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press) (pb repr. 2000)

—– 1995 “We are all Greeks”? Ancient (especially Herodotean) and modern contestations of Hellenism’ Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 40: 75–82

—– 1998 (ed.) The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P.) (corrected pb repr. 2002)

—– 2001a The Greeks. Crucible of Civilization (London: BBC Books)

—– 2001b Spartan Reflections (London: Duckworth, & Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press)

—– 2002 The Greeks. A Portrait of Self and Others, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford U.P.)

—– 2003 The Spartans. An Epic History, 2nd edn London: Pan Macmillan, & New York: Overlook Press)

—– 2004 ‘What have the Spartans done for us? Sparta’s contribution to Western civilization’ Greece & Rome 2nd ser., 52.2: 164–79

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Starr, C. G. 1962/1979 ‘Why did the Greeks defeat the Persians?’ repr. in Essays on Ancient History, ed. A. Ferrill and T. Kelly (Leiden: Brill) 193–204

Stolper, M. W. 1985 Entrepreneurs and Empire: the Murashu Archive, the Murashu Firm and Persian Rule in Babylonia (Istanbul: Netherlands Historical-Archaeological Institute)

Strauss, B. S. 2004a Salamis. The Greatest Naval Battle of the Ancient World,480 BC (New York: Simon & Schuster)

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Videos and Websites

The Greek and Persian Wars, Cromwell Productions Ltd,

‘Decisive Battles’ – Thermopylae, Paradine Productions (comic strip version of the battle) (Dr N. J. Lowe’s listing of ‘Ancient Greece in Fiction’) pp. 6–7 for novels and short stories on the Graeco-Persian Wars (Prof. J. P. Adams) (Prof. A. Yiannakis’s expedition to determine Anopaea route)

* The term ‘colonization’ is conventional, but strictly it is inaccurate, since most of these new foundations were independent settlements from the start, not colonial outposts of a metropolitan power.

* Thanks to Alexander’s conquest of ‘India’ in the 320s, the Greeks would gain some idea of the southward extension of the Indian subcontinent, but the mass of the sub-continent remained out of bounds to them. By the time of the great Indian Emperor Ashoka in the early third century BCE the Indians knew quite a lot about Greeks; enough, at any rate, for Ashoka explicitly to renounce the sort of empire-building for which Alexander the Great was famous – or notorious – and to embrace a new form of governance based on Buddhist principles of tolerance and compassion.

* There was plenty of scope here too for the business activities of a shrewd banking house, the Murashu of Nippur in Babylonia, whose instructive records have in part come down to us in decipherable cuneiform writing on baked clay tablets.

* Palatine Anthology 7.431. It would be good to know exactly when the epigram was composed, whether before or after Thermopylae.

For example, he made a valuable donation of gold leaf to coat a venerated and presumably wooden statue of Apollo at Thornax near Sparta (Herodotus 1.69).

* The Spartans eventually won that war, but (another paradox) did so thanks only to Persian money. The Athenians with their naval power and desire to liberate the Greeks of Asia presented a greater threat to Persian interests than did Sparta. So on the principle that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’, first the two westernmost Persian satraps and then a son of Great King Darius II channelled enormous amounts of money the Spartans’ way to enable them to build a fleet that could eventually defeat the Athenians and rob them of their control of the Aegean, and especially its link to the Black Sea via the Hellespont.

* See Appendix 1.

* See Appendix 2.

* ‘Egypt’s Leonardo’, as he has been called: Ray 2001.

* To put this in a Greek perspective, that sum would be almost thirty times the total revenue of the Athenians’ naval empire at its height in the 440s and 430s.

Elsewhere, 8.105, he describes the Greek Panionius’s trading in eunuchs as ‘utterly wicked’.

* This, since it made it possible for Henry Rawlinson to decipher cuneiform writing, has been called the most important text for the study of the history of the entire ancient Near East. But others would make the same claim for the Hebrew Bible.

* The great exception was of course Judah, where Cyrus had earned the title ‘Messiah’ from Deutero-Isaiah for restoring the exiled Jews from their Babylonian captivity.

* The rest is lost.

* The label ‘Athenian Revolution’ is not uncontroversial, since it may carry the implication that it was a consciously motivated act of political self-transformation. I would myself emphasize more the – surely revolutionary – transformation of both institutions and consciousness that flowed from the reforms.

* The governor was Mardonius, later to be the premier general of Xerxes in Greece.

* The modern-day ‘Spartathlon’, the ultra-Marathon race inspired by him, has seen the record-winning time cut to a little over twenty hours.

* It was indeed the same strategy later pursued to devastating effect by Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

* After the Persians had withdrawn, an early form of political unification was first achieved by King Archelaus at the end of the fifth century, but true unification came only under Philip II (359–336).

* See Appendix 3.

* See Glossary.

* Since in general Herodotus’s account of Cleomenes is hostile, and since he elsewhere says nice things about the crucial military importance of Athens being a democracy, presumably his judgement was affected here by his own conviction of the supreme folly of the Ionian Revolt.

* Already at the Battle of Plataea in 479 there was the same absolute number (5,000) of such hoplites in the field as of Spartans, but 5,000 was a far higher percentage of the potentially available Spartan total.

* The Spartans had a reputation among other Greeks, no doubt exaggerated, for being addicted to buggery.

The future king Agesilaus II, as a teenager going through the regular educational system (because not expected to succeed to the throne), was the ‘hearer’ of Lysander. Lysander later became briefly the single most powerful Spartan of his day, and so the most influential single Greek, since Sparta was then the superpower of the Greek world. Certainly, he was more powerful even than the kings, and his support and influence were by no means irrelevant or incidental to Agesilaus’s attaining the Eurypontid throne in a fiercely contested succession dispute in (probably) 400.

* Edgar Degas, well schooled in the classics, was particularly caught by this Spartan female athleticism and reproduced it on several occasions in the 1860s in studies now in the National Gallery, London, the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University, and the Art Institute, Chicago.

* Lycurgus was a legendary and at least semi-mythical lawgiver of early times to whom were ascribed pretty well all historical Sparta’s laws and regulations. But despite his success with the Spartan men, he was said to have failed to win the women over to his views.

Xenophon was a much older contemporary of Aristotle. As a guest-friend of King Agesilaus, he had lived in Sparta when in exile from his native Athens at the beginning of the fourth century, and at Agesilaus’s suggestion had put his two sons through the Spartan educational system.

* The new alliance system had a rosy future: it was this that gave Sparta, and only Sparta, the claim to hegemony and supremacy in any Hellenic resistance to Persia. Most of the (few) Greek states that conducted the successful resistance in 480 and 479 were members of Sparta’s Peloponnesian League alliance.

* Identified plausibly at the village of Parori not far from Byzantine Mistra on the flank of Mt Taygetus.

* See Chapter Eight.

* We shall return to this in Chapter Six.

* Leotychidas was a Eurypontid, but only a distant relative of Demaratus. He was also a deadly personal foe, since he had once literally stolen Demaratus’s well connected and wealthy fiancée from him and married her himself.

* He was probably faithfully retailing what he had been told by his anti-Cleomenes informants, who may well have included descendants of Demaratus still living in the region around Troy in north-west Anatolia.

* This is the book immediately after the description of Marathon and the first of the three final books that deal with the battles of 480–479, the Graeco-Persian Wars proper.

* It is all the more noticeable therefore that Herodotus does not introduce the ex-Spartan king Demaratus, an obvious medizer of the first water, into his narrative here. He is saving him for greater things later.

* See Appendix 3.

* When Themistocles requested support in 480 from the Aegean island-state of Andros, the Andrians told him they were unable to help, constrained as they were by two implacable goddesses, Poverty and Incapacity (Herodotus 8.111).

* A notorious recurrence resulted in the execution of Alexander the Great’s official historian Callisthenes in 327, when he refused to kowtow to Graeco-Macedonian Alexander as the new Great King.

* For three years in the early 1990s Dr B. J. Isserlin directed a topographical and geophysical expedition to trace the canal’s basic characteristics.

* Almost all the silver was extracted by slave labour under the most appalling physical conditions. The silver was contained within seams of lead and had to be separated from it by a process called cupellation. The resulting ore had to be washed and processed before it was usable for coinage. The primary extraction and ancillary industries, at their peak, may have soaked up the labour of as many as 20–30,000 slaves.

* See Glossary.

* See Chapter Eight.

* See Chapter Three.

* See Glossary.

It was a peculiarly Spartan sort of gift, since one of the chief marks of respect that a junior could pay to a senior at Sparta was ostentatiously to yield his seat to him.

* A variant spelling of Orchomenians, referring to the men of Arcadian Orchomenus, not to be confused with its Boeotian homonym, since all Boeotians except for the Plataeans and Thespians had medized.

Decisions at League congresses were taken by majority vote, with each city represented having one vote apiece, regardless of size.

* This was where Aeschylus was to die and be buried in 456.

Their father was Deinomenes, so the tyrant dynasty is known as the Deinomenids, on the model of the Peisistratids at Athens.

* Ancient Thrace is roughly modern Bulgaria, plus the coastal strip in the south that now forms part of the modern state of Greece.

* See Glossary; and for their prowess at Thermopylae, see Chapter Seven.

The Greeks borrowed from the East the notion of a Golden Age, when all was for the best in the best of all possible worlds. But gold was not native to Greece, with just a couple of minor exceptions, so the metal retained a whiff of exoticism that acquired a strongly negative connotation by its association with barbarian Persia – especially through the imperial ‘daric’ coinage (see Glossary).

* This was a name destined to echo down the corridors of ancient Middle Eastern history for many centuries to come, as the Romans would become only too well aware in their attempts to control Armenia.

* Paphlagonia was a major source of the slaves privately owned in, for example, Athens. Partly for this reason, Aristophanes caricatures the leading Athenian politician Cleon as a Paphlagonian house-slave in his comedy Knights, staged in 424.

Both Mossynoeci and Macrones reappear in Xenophon’s Anabasis describing exciting events of 401–400.

* Literally, ‘something too new’ – a very Greek expression.

* Herodotus does not include a description, or even a mention, of the Macedonian troops under Xerxes here (he does include them later on), perhaps because the muster occurred before the army had reached Macedonia. But he does quote a Macedonian source saying that the Thracian Brygi of Asia had once lived in Macedonia. One probable member of this ethnic group has acquired a certain fame among art-historians: he was a potter, or the owner of an outstandingly successful pottery workshop, at Athens in the first quarter of the fifth century and employed an artist known to scholarship as the ‘Brygos Painter’, who specialized in powerfully dramatic scenes of human and divine life.

See Appendix 2.

* The islanders apart from those of Samos had suffered major losses at Lade in 494, the final battle of the Ionian Revolt, and Persian generosity in victory had clearly not extended to allowing, let alone encouraging, the rebuilding or maintenance of serious navies.

See Appendix 3.

* Whether she did in fact advise Xerxes intimately in the way that, say, Artabanus certainly did, is perhaps doubtful.

* The Roman word for baggage trains, impedimenta, says it all.

* The Spartans’ two kings were supposedly descended lineally from the two great-great-grandsons of Heracles who had founded the city of Sparta, making Heracles the Spartans’ ultimate ancestor. Ancestral piety including ancestor worship was a Spartan speciality.

* See Chapter Four.

* Cleomenes died a gruesome, allegedly self-inflicted death. It has been suggested that Leonidas may have had a hand in this and in the subsequent cover-up. At all events, he it was who most benefited from Cleomenes’s untimely demise.

This was true also of Eurypontid King Agesilaus II, who also succeeded an older half-brother; he reigned from c. 400 to 360 and was for a time the most powerful of all mainland Greeks.

In his 1776 republican pamphlet Common Sense Thomas Paine acutely observed: ‘Men who look upon themselves [as] born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.’

* Most famously in the Sacred Band of Thebes, which flourished from 378 to 338 and consisted of 150 homosexual couples. The Spartans practised official pederasty involving an adult with an adolescent, as noted in Chapter Four, but did not officially encourage, let alone institutionalize, for military purposes homosexual relationships between two adult men of fighting age.

* See the case of the Spartan Aristodamus, Chapter Eight.

See Chapter Four.

* The story of Caryan medism is told by the Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius in connection with the type of female-figure architectural member in the form of a column known as a ‘caryatid’, which means literally a female from the town of Caryae. But I am inclined to think it’s made up retrospectively, since in 370 Caryae did defect from Sparta, and the Spartans might well have invented a tale of Caryae’s medism in 480 in order to blacken the name of the men of Caryae and justify their taking harsh steps to recover and punish the town.

* Evidence of this sort has led the bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield to add one further, wholly fictional factor to the Thermopylae 300 equation in his Gates of Fire (Pressfield 1999). As he tells the story, Leonidas personally chose the 300, but paid special attention to the likely comportment of their soon-to-be widows and the effect that their premature bereavement would have on the morale of Sparta as a whole. He has based this persuasive intuition not on any direct evidence but on the attested comportment of the female relatives of the Spartans who either died in or, worse, survived the disastrous defeat at Leuctra in 371 (see Chapter Four).

* To anticipate, the reminiscence here of the language of Simonides’s Thermopylae epigram is palpable and surely conscious. Simonides’s Spartans lie dead in the pass, ‘obeying [present tense] the rhêmata of the Spartans’. Rhêmata, literally ‘sayings’, is derived from the same root word asrhêmata, and rhêmata was the term the Spartans used both for their basic constitutional law (which they ascribed to the Delphic oracle via their lawgiver Lycurgus) and to a number of other lesser laws.

This point seems to me to be crystal-clear and unarguable, even if Herodotus was also trying to convey another point about the Spartans: namely, that their society was by Greek standards unusually authoritarian. All military discipline is indeed hierarchical, unidirectional and top–down; and Sparta was a uniquely military society.

* From the Greek word for stark-naked, gumnos. Gymnasia were also public parks; it was in a gymnasium in this sense that Aristotle’s Lyceum (institute for advanced study) was located at Athens.

* This is the figure reported by Herodotus as having been inscribed on a commemorative postwar document.

So black indeed were the Theban traitors painted that 150 years later Alexander the Great could still hope to disguise or at least mitigate his brutally pragmatic destruction of Thebes in 335 by referring back to the Thebans’ medism in the Graeco-Persian Wars.

* It’s a product, I think, of the mainly Athenian anti-Spartan strain within Herodotus’s oral sources. This represented the Spartans and other Peloponnesians as always keener on maintaining a defensive line at the Isthmus.

* See Appendix 1 for a deailed discussion of the source question.

Greek excavations in the last century uncovered a stretch of walling over 100 metres long; originally built by the local Phocians to resist enemies coming at them from the south, the structure was now refurbished and reoriented by the Spartans to face north.

* Herodotus is not at his best in making clear the inextricable link between the land and naval forces of the two sides, but he does at least mention the key role played by Leonidas’s liaison officer, the ship-based Abronychus of Athens, a trusted lieutenant of Themistocles. More than once he had to run the 7 or so kilometres between the Gulf of Malis and Artemisium.

* A transverse crest is depicted on the little bronze figurine of a cloaked Spartan hoplite now in the Wadworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut.

The replica Spartan hoplite statue standing proud in Sparta, Wisconsin, has an ‘S’ inscribed on his shield, so as not to confuse the ordinary local viewer; but in antiquity ‘S’ stood for Sicyon. In a battle in the 390s Spartan hoplites wickedly picked up discarded shields belonging to men of Sicyon, precisely so as to confuse their enemies.

* The source is Ephorus as preserved by Diodorus, supported with minor variations by Plutarch and another, inferior writer. Leonidas was allegedly warned of his impending encirclement by a Greek deserter from the Persian camp, one Tyrrhastiades from Cyme in Aeolis, and not (as in Herodotus) by the Phocian guards he had posted to guard the Anopaea. The nationality of the supposed deserter is enough to make the tale suspect as a patriotic fiction, since Cyme was Ephorus’s own polis.

* Megistias, from Acarnania in north-west Greece, was a professional mantis; there were various kinds of divination, not all involving animal sacrifice.

He was motivated along the same lines as the Spartans had been when choosing the 300 from fathers of living sons.

* The definition offered by the great Maghrebi historian Ibn Khaldun in the fourteenth century.

* Herodotus 9.78–9. Likewise emblematic of cultural difference is the story that, when the survivors of the Theban 400 tried to surrender to Xerxes, they were branded with the royal mark, as mere slaves.

The Thespians seem to have sacrificed every one of their available hoplites in support of ‘the Greeks’; it is entirely right and proper that there should be a separate modern memorial in the pass to them too.

Or, as Peter Green has nicely put it, ‘The ultimate victories of Salamis and Plataea became possible, in a sense, only through that splendid and inspiring defeat.’

* The Greek for ‘best’ was aristos; the term for a battlefield performance of excellence, aristeia. Aristodamus’s name meant ‘best of – or for – the people’.

* The most famous example of a foreign grave memorial can still be viewed by the informed visitor to Athens today. Sometime in or after 403 the Athenians erected in their city’s most important cemetery, the Cerameicus, an impressive tomb for those Spartans who had been killed in the fighting that saw the end of the horrendous reign of Critias’s Thirty Tyrants. This was part of the deal whereby Sparta allowed Athens to revert to being a free democracy, if under stringent conditions. The names of the dead were inscribed above the graves, in a Laconian hand.

The first successful incursion was in winter 370/69 BCE.

* Herodotus says this feature was the same ‘in Asia’ as in Sparta, meaning presumably within the Persian Empire.

* The embalmed corpse of Agesilaus II, who died aged eighty-four in north Africa in 360, was brought back to Sparta for burial, but he had not died ‘in war’.

The Greek for ‘lion’ is leôn, a quite common Spartan personal name, understandably enough, and the first part of Leonidas’s; a later poem preserved in the collection known as the Palatine Anthology purports to be spoken by this famous Thermopylae stone lion.

* Regent Pausanias (regent for Leonidas’s son Pleistarchus), however, was made of different stuff. There seems no kinder way of putting it other than to say that the victory at Plataea had gone to his head. The stunning celebratory poetry of Simonides, which mentioned him by name, will not have helped to deflate his hypertrophied ego. The Spartans had to remind him, not gently, that it was not he alone who had defeated the Persians, as an inscription added on his instructions to the base of the Greeks’ victory memorial at Delphi, the ‘Serpent Column’ – the cauldron standing on three bronze coils topped with snakes’ heads (see Chapter Five) – tried to make out. Somehow or other he had himself appointed officially in 478 to some sort of command at Byzantium, the obvious nodal point for carrying on – or rounding off – the active anti-Persian naval–military campaign. But while there, he massively alienated the largely Athenian forces, and a majority of the allies clamoured for his recall and replacement. Most likely his overbearing Spartan style of command did not mix brilliantly well with Athenian democratic notions of military service. But the formal allegation made against him was far more serious than that; indeed, it could hardly have been more serious: namely, that Pausanias had been treating with Persia, either with the local satrap or with Great King Xerxes himself, with a view to doing some sort of private deal. My own hunch is that this was black propaganda, a sure-fire way to get Pausanias recalled by the Spartans – and it worked a treat. Pausanias, however, soon returned to Byzantium in a private capacity, and it may have been now rather than earlier that he really did start negotiations with the Persian High Command and even – with the example of Demaratus before him – conceive the notion of becoming a pliant Persian instrument, possibly even satrap of ‘Greece’ (south of Macedonia). This, however, is all speculation. The most important consequence of Pausanias’s career was the shift of the leadership of the anti-Persian campaign in 478/7 from Sparta to Athens, and the formation of the Athenian alliance that soon became an Athenian empire. Later, on his eventual return to Sparta, Pausanias was very harshly treated by the ephors of the day, not so much for his behaviour towards Athens and Persia but because, allegedly, he had been intriguing with Helots to grant them freedom and even citizenship of some sort. He was shut up in a sacred space on the Spartan acropolis and starved to within an inch of his life, being released only so that he could die outside consecrated ground to avoid pollution. In an act of posthumous recompense and restitution the Spartans erected bronze statues of him, and at some point a religious cult to him was established, jointly with that of the other Spartan Graeco-Persian war hero, Leonidas.

* I myself, on the other hand, feel constrained to differ, strongly, from Herodotus’s judgement. True, the Battle of Salamis was a stunning naval victory, one of the greatest of all time. Scholars will forever debate why Xerxes felt he could afford to negate his numerical and tactical advantage by going in to fight in the narrows around the islet of Salamis, thereby experiencing a sort of maritime Thermopylae, but a self-inflicted one rather than a natural obstacle that was unavoidable. There is no debate at all, however, about the strategic genius and other leadership qualities of Themistocles, nor about the courage and faith of the Athenians in temporarily abandoning their polis in the hope of returning to it again another, much better day. Culturally and politically, too, Salamis was of the utmost significance. Aeschylus’s tragedy The Persians, produced under eight years later in spring 472, focuses on Salamis and (the unnamed) Themistocles. Salamis confirmed the status of the Athenians’ democracy as the most effective fighting constitution for them, and confirmed too the hugely enhanced position within it of the mass of the poorest Athenians who had rowed the victorious trireme warships. Victory at Salamis also led more or less directly to the Athenians’ creation of an initially anti-Persian maritime empire that later turned into a major cause of the fatal bust-up between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies in the great Atheno-Peloponnesian War of 431–404. One of those Spartan allies, and not the least important in sealing the Spartans’ eventual victory, was Persia, an ironic twist of fate. And yet: in immediate military terms, the value of Salamis was ambiguous. Had Xerxes won, then the Persians would have had the Peloponnese at the mercy of a naval assault; and, if it is still not quite a foregone conclusion that they would then inevitably have won overall, by land as well as sea, their task would have been eased immensely. Victory at Salamis did not, on the other hand, inevitably mean victory for the resistant coalition Greeks in the Graeco-Persian Wars overall. From that perspective, it was not Salamis but Plataea that was the decisive battle. ‘It was at Plataea, not at Salamis, that the new satrapy was lost’, as George Cawkwell has crisply put it. Xerxes may have retired to Asia after Salamis, but Great Kings did not necessarily lead all major campaigns in person, and he left behind, under the command of the more than competent Mardonius, sufficient forces to complete the job by land as well as by sea. But Mardonius was decisively defeated on land in the summer of 479 at Plataea in southern Boeotia in central Greece, by the largest land army ever mustered by Greeks to that date (some forty thousand in all). Herodotus – even Herodotus, whose views on the critical importance of Salamis we have just rehearsed – was forced to concede that Plataea was essentially a Spartan victory.

* Lysias was not an Athenian citizen, but a permanent resident alien of Syracusan origin, so his speech if delivered would have been delivered by another. His family had personal connections with Pericles, and he was immensely wealthy thanks to the profits from a slave-staffed shield manufactory.

The war takes its name from Lamia, but Hyperides has to skate over the awkward fact that Antipater broke out from there and in 321 heavily defeated the rebels.

* Xerxes and the Persians had sacked the sacred Acropolis of Athens twice, in 480 and again in 479.

* Second after the Athens-centred phenomenon of the later fifth and the fourth centuries BCE, which had made of Athens, in the phrase of Plato, ‘the city hall of wisdom’.

Another glittering ornament of the Second Sophistic, but by origin a non-Greek Syrian from Samosata (modern Samsat in Turkey) and so more easily able to maintain a slightly ironic distance.

* Tyrtaeus’s poetry was officially memorized in Sparta and had been sung on campaign at least until the earlier Hellenistic age in the third century BCE.

* A reference to the Battle of Himera, a victory of Sicilian Greeks over invading Carthaginians, legendarily fought on the very same day as Salamis.

* This plane tree of Xerxes is not to be confused with the oriental plane tree grown in Cambridge, at Jesus College, from a seed brought back by Edward Daniel Clarke from Thermopylae. That tree reached its bicentenary in 2002 and was duly celebrated in both Greek and Latin verse composed by a Fellow of the college, Anthony Bowen (also the Cambridge University Orator).

* Besides the Sparta in Wisconsin already noted, we could mention the Sparta in Tennessee that featured in In the Heat of the Night, the memorable movie of Southern racial hatred starring Sidney Poitier. However, the name Thermopolis in Wyoming should probably not be given any other interpretation than the purely topographical – like Greek Thermopylae, it is blessed with mineral hot springs (the world’s largest), and its founding inhabitants probably did not see themselves as making a last stand like General Custer (at Little Bighorn in Montana, on 25 June 1876).

* This is a slightly foxed French translation of part of Simonides’s epigram ‘Go, tell the Spartans …’.

* I have quoted it as the epigraph to Chapter Four.

* See Chapter Eight, and the epigraph to Chapter One.

* On the historical downside, the film accepts and enacts Diodorus/Ephorus’s massively implausible tale of a night commando raid designed by Leonidas to assassinate Xerxes in his bed.

* One small but telling visual mistake merits comment. Miller shows the Spartans with moustaches as well as beards. Yet the historical Spartans of Leonidas’s day in fact shaved their upper lip in subservience to the annual injunction by each incoming board of ephors to ‘shave their moustaches and obey the laws’. The famous marble statue wrongly named ‘Leonidas’ faithfully shows precisely this distinctively Spartan treatment of facial hair: full beard but no moustache.

* A slightly different and fully annotated version of this Epilogue appeared as ‘What have the Spartans done for us? Sparta’s contribution to Western civilization’ in the Classics journal Greece & Rome 2nd ser., 52.2 (2004) 164–79. I am most grateful to the journal’s editor, Katherine Clarke, for permission to reproduce this reworded and mostly annotation-free version here.

* Indeed, from the time of an ancient Greek ‘renaissance’, the Second Sophistic of the second century CE, when the hellenized Syrian writer Lucian awarded Thucydides the palm in his tract on How to Write History.

* I shall use Herodotus’s treatment of Polycrates, the colourful tyrant of Samos in the 530s and 520s, in order to illustrate both. Herodotus knew Samos personally very well indeed, and he picked up unusually rich and detailed traditions both on and about the island.

* It is rather surprising to note that the supposedly ‘scientific’ Thucydides takes Minos’s real historical existence as read.

According to Herodotus’s account, Polycrates had struck up a useful personal–political friendship with Amasis, but Amasis broke it off when he heard the story of Polycrates’s ring. In brief, Polycrates fears that an excess of prosperity may well cause his downfall, so he hurls into the sea a specially favoured ring. But the ring is swallowed by a large fish, which is caught and presented to Polycrates by the proud and loyal fisherman – and found to contain the ring. Polycrates and Amasis infer that his downfall is inescapable. Actually this is just a Greek variant of a widely dispersed international folktale.

* This, at any rate, is the view regularly taken by George Cawkwell in the most recent scholarly account of Greek–Persian relations available to me as I wrote this book: Cawkwell 2004.

* As Mary Renault entitled the historical novel she devoted to him in 1976.

Helen (of Troy) was worshipped in Sparta, alongside her brothers: see Hughes 2005.

Pindar seems never to have been commissioned by the Spartan state or by an individual Spartan, though he did manage to sneak in flattering references to the unique excellence of Laconian hunting hounds (Fragments 106, 107ab) and to Apollo Carneios, patron of the single most important festival of the Spartan annual religious calendar, the Carneia: ‘Mine to sing the lovely / Glory that came from Sparta’; and to Cyrene in north Africa, that is, home of Arcesilas, the victor at the Pythian Games of 462/1 who had commissioned this victory ode. Indeed, Pindar seems to have claimed descent for himself from a Spartan who achieved the feat of conquering nearby Amyclae and bringing it into political union with Sparta.

* The Spartans had given Philippides an assurance that they too would be present at the battle, just as soon as the phase of the moon had altered so as to free them from an overriding religious commitment. After a remarkable series of forced marches, the Spartans arrived at Marathon, but on the day after the battle had been fought, as we saw. This was a poignant moment, not without its embarrassment, and one that I am sure contributed to Leonidas’s resolve to make amends at Thermopylae exactly a decade later.

* This recalls a remarkable epigram, possibly also to be attributed to Simonides, that found its way into the later collection, the Palatine Anthology (7.344). Herodotus had recorded (7.225.2) that the Greeks erected a stone monument at Thermopylae in the form of a lion to commemorate the deed of Leonidas and his men; there was a sort of pun involved here, since the Greek for lion is leòn. This poem, collected in the Anthology, is as if spoken by a stone lion.

* Not content with setting up a boastful epigram at the entrance to the Black Sea (Herodotus 4.81.3; compare Nymphis of Heraclea, FGrHist. 432F9), Pausanias also had an inscription added to the base of the Serpent Column set up in 479 at Delphi, the ‘navel’ of the earth. Whereas the inscription on the Serpent’s bronze coils merely stated that ‘These fought the war’ and then gave a list of the names of thirty-one Greek states, headed of course by the Lacedaemonians, Pausanias’s personally commissioned epigram (quoted at Thucydides 1.132.2) virtually ascribed the combined Greeks’ victory to him alone. Any even minimally alert reader of Herodotus would have predicted from this hubris that Pausanias was destined to pay the penalty of nemesis and come to a bad end. He did indeed come to a spectacularly bad end, being starved out – as we learn from Thucydides – in the holy shrine of the Spartans’ patron goddess Athena on the acropolis of Sparta. This end by itself, in the eyes of Herodotus and many other conventional Greeks, would have wiped out the previous kleos (fame) that had accrued to him as conqueror of the Persians – though there were other reasons besides for thinking less than entirely well of Pausanias. Yet the exceptionally pious Spartans were anxious in case they might collectively acquire some divinely sent stain of pollution as a result of the manner of Pausanias’s death in, or very near, hallowed ground. So as an act of divine atonement or restitution the authorities commissioned two bronze effigies of him to be erected on the Spartan acropolis.

Thucydides, Herodotus’s major successor as historian, offers interesting material and judgement on the Persian Wars as a whole but not on Thermopylae specifically. See Rood 1999.

* The original version of this Appendix was delivered as a lecture at the Museum of the University of Athens in May 2005, to launch the collective volume on Herodotus published by the En Kuklôi (‘In a Circle’) group of the University of Athens directed by Dr Mairi Yossi (Faculty of Classics). I am indebted to Dr Yossi and her collaborators for their kind invitation and matchless philoxenia.

* This is actually a later division of his work, by learned scholars working in the library attached to the Museum (Shrine of the Muses) at post-Classical Alexandria in Egypt, who amused themselves by inscribing each of the ‘books’ under the sign of one of the nine Muses.

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