The Rise And Fall Of Ancient Sparta | The Spartans: Complete Series

this channel is part of the history hit Network [History 2023] when we think of ancient Greece this is the image that most of us have in mind Parthenon in Athens this is where the blueprint for Western Civilization received its first draft philosophy and science art and architecture democracy itself have their Roots here and they’re all embodied in the Serene lines of one of the most famous buildings in the world but there’s more to the story of ancient Greece than Athens another kind of Monument to a very different kind of Greek city it’s the burial mound of 300 Warriors from Sparta who in 480 BC made a heroic Last Stand in the past at thermopoli resisting a massive Invasion force from the Persian Empire surrounded and outnumbered by about 40 to 1 fight before they were hacked to pieces they’re interred here and honored by this inscription which still Echoes down the centuries go tell the Spartans stranger passing by that here obedience to their laws we lie hey hey unlike Athens Sparta can’t boast of its philosophers and politicians and artists it’s famous for two things it’s frugality which is where we get our word Spartan from and it’s Fighters in everyday Spartan life these two were intimately linked the whole of Spartan society conformed to a strict code of extreme discipline and self-sacrifice their aim to create the perfect State protected by Perfect Warriors [Applause] [History 2023] thank you [History 2023] the pursuit of perfection made Sparta a strange place where money was outlawed it caused the children were exterminated male homosexuality was compulsory and women enjoyed a degree of Social and sexual Freedom was practically unheard of in the ancient world [History 2023] history is one of Ruthless militarism slavery on a massive scale and a system that can sometimes seem like a premonition of modern day totalitarian regimes [Applause] [History 2023] but Sparta was the first Greek city to define the rights and duties of its citizens and it can also claim alongside Athens to saved the Western World from enslavement by the Persian Empire although Spartan Hardline ideals don’t have the Charisma of Athenian culture they’ve meant as much to Western civilization as the ideals represented by the Parthenon so in a sense the story of the Spartans is the story of ourselves and how some of the ideas that have molded Western Civilization were first tried out in a warrior State on the Greek mainland over two and a half thousand years ago foreign [History 2023] [Applause] [History 2023] the story of the Spartans takes me on a journey through some dramatic history and there’s a setting to match over there is the peloponnese huge Peninsula crowned by rugged mountains and schooled by Deep Gorges that forms the southernmost part of the Greek mainland the ancient Greeks thought of it as an island and you can see why it does have a brooding closed-in feel cold shouldering the outside world [History 2023] but long before the Spartans of our story arrived on the scene this part of the world was making history many of the Greeks who fought in the Trojan War some 3000 years ago came from here Agamemnon the leader of the Greeks ruled over my C9 in the Eastern peloponnese and to the south in Sparta was the Palace of Menelaus and his wife Helen for Helen of Troy whose Beauty caused the Trojan War was once Helen of Sparta [History 2023] [History 2023] [Applause] but at some point around 1100 BC it all disappeared no one knows for sure what happened earthquakes slave revolts even asteroids have been blamed but all over the Eastern Mediterranean the world of Helen went under in a catechism of fire and destruction a Remnant clung on for a few hundred years but finally the Dark Ages came to Greece and the thread of History snapped foreign and during those centuries of Darkness out of the North new people came seeking more hospitable lands they brought with them a new Greek dialect their sheep and goats and a few simple possessions they settled all over the peloponnese and some found their way to the lands that once belonged to King Menelaus it was a journey worth making foreign the people who came here must have thought they’d found a Shangri-La down there is the plane of the uretas river 50 miles north to south precious fertile farmland and a river runs through it all year round we land hungry Greece where 70 of the land can’t be farmed and the rest is squeezed between the mountains and the Sea there’s a lot of Elbow Room to the West are the spectacular tajitas mountains rising to more than 8 000 feet in places patches of snow still linger while down on the plane spring is turning into summer slopes once teamed with game Deer hair and wild boar Rich pickings for the new arrivals [History 2023] but what statistics can’t convey is the Striking quality of this place a fantastic sense of security everywhere you look on every Horizon you’re bounded by hills and mountains it’s not claustrophobic just safe you feel that everything you could possibly want is here if you could just lay claim to it and keep the rest of the world at Bay and so the herdsmen traded in their sheep for olive trees and settled down here a new Sparta came into being and the new Spartans built this Temple the menalayan to honor the legendary King and his Wayward wife in the period of renewal following the Dark Ages new cities like Sparta appeared all over Greece they varied in size and power but had one thing in common they were all governed by a set of mutually agreed laws and customs the rules by which people agreed to live varied but the aim was broadly the same to create good order and Justice and to protect against chaos and lawlessness today in Sparta archaeologists are still piecing together the story of the people who first came here some 3000 years ago and built an ideal city a Utopia it’s not an easy task because they left few Clues behind them and much of what they did leave was buried or destroyed when the modern day city was built but whenever there’s a building program precious new pieces of the puzzle are revealed every find is precious because the Spartans didn’t leave us much in the way of stuff unlike the Athenians they were famous for not building for not making things and for not writing about themselves [History 2023] so of all the cities and civilizations in the ancient world the Spartans Remain the most intriguing and mysterious foreign take for example Sparta’s Kings since time immemorial Sparta had not one but two kings at the same time two Royal houses twice the potential [History 2023] the Spartans explained this unique Arrangement by claiming that their kings were direct descendants of the great great grandsons of Heracles the strongman of Greek myth according to Legend it was this pair of twins who rested control of the peloponnese from the descendants of Agamemnon the stories that people tell about themselves are always revealing and this tale of a land grab by a pair of aggressive usurpers themselves descended from the most Macho Man in mythology sent out a worrying message to the neighbors [History 2023] before the Spartans started throwing their weight around seizing control of the whole of the uretas valley enslaving non-spartans or categorizing them as periodical meaning those who never round her periokoi became a disinfred [History 2023] franchise Sparta’s economic Muppets sorting out their immediate neighbors was just the start of Sparta’s aggressive expansionism despite the generous Acres of the eurotouse valley Sparta like the rest of Greece was always hungry for farmland other cities dealt with this by founding colonies satellite settlements that would eventually spread as far west as the Straits of Gibraltar and as far east as the Crimea in the Black Sea the Spartans came up with their own take on colonization they turned their eyes West and began to wonder what opportunities there were beyond the mountains it was there that they would go to satisfy their land hunger it was there that Shangri-La would reveal its darker side because it was there that a slave Nation would be created to serve the Spartan Master race oh foreign the journey through the Gorges of the tajitas mountains is as spectacular now as it must have been some 2 800 years ago when the armies of Sparta headed west in search of Conquest several days hard marched through the mountains would bring them to the territory of the messenians Spartans weren’t just coming for their land they wanted their freedom too they intended to turn the messenians on mass into hellerts the word translates as captives but means more bluntly slaves slavery in ancient Greece was an accepted fact of life but slaves were supposed to be foreigners barbarians who spoke no Greek and so were obviously suited by nature to servitude the enslavement of fellow Greeks and on a massive scale was something else again and the crushing of messini would set Sparta apart from the rest of Greece it also shaped the kind of place Sparta became wary of unrest paranoid about revolt enslaving the messenians was no easy task it took two full-scale Wars each lasting 20 years or more we know something about the second war because we have an eyewitness to the events one of the first identifiable eyewitnesses known to history he was called tertius a Spartan soldier and just as importantly a poet [History 2023] it is a fine thing for a brave man to die when he has fallen among the front ranks while fighting for his homeland let us fight with the spirit for this land and let us die for our children no longer sparing Our Lives come on you young men make the spirit in your heart strong and Valiant and do not be in love with life when you are a fighting man [History 2023] tertius was a war poet but hardly of the Wilfred Owen school I doubt he had any concept of the pity of War his verses were more like battle cries barked out with the directness of a sergeant major putting backbone into the shirkers and faint hearts look if you want this land you’re gonna have to fight for it [History 2023] this is the kind of fighter that tertius addresses in his poems he was called a hoplite an infantryman armed with an eight-foot Spear and round Shield by the end of the 7th Century practically All Greek cities had their own contingents of hot plants these weren’t full-time professional soldiers they were farmers who swapped plows for Spears in defense of their communities by standing side by side with their neighbors these militiamen demonstrated not just their courage but their status as Citizens this is Olympia home of the Famous Games it was also The Unofficial Shrine of the hoplite fighter but this was where you’d come to dedicate your arms to the Gods in thanks for victory foreign or round Shield the Cardinal item of equipment for a Hop light and probably where he got his name you’d have held it by thrusting your left arm through that Central armband and then grasping onto a leather thong at The Rim it was made of wood and metal and would have weighed around 20 pounds which is a hell of a weight if you think of carrying that for a day’s fighting but to let your arm fall and the shield drop was the ultimate disgrace I love [History 2023] you pop like fighting was a team effort half your shields for you the other half for the man you’re left The Hop lights would form into densely packed ranks called the phalangs seven or eight D and perhaps 50 Shields across coordination and discipline were important but most important of all was trust if your neighbor broke and ran you’d be left exposed to the spare points of the enemy foreign s is met the tendency was for each line to shift to the right your natural instinct was always to tuck yourself as far as possible behind your neighbor’s Shield at that moment the discipline of the Phalanx threatened to collapse to be effective you just had to grit your teeth and stand your ground turkey has had some typically helpful advice those who dare to stand faster on another side and to advance towards the front ranks in hand-to-hand conflict they die in smaller numbers and they keep the troops behind safe [Applause] tactics once the shield Waters came together the battlefields all but disappeared in a dust cloud as the two opposing masses [Applause] the rear ends contraction from three rounds [History 2023] it was there that you’d have come face to face with this a gorgon emblazoned on your enemy’s Shields this was the goddess whose gaze had the power to turn men to Stone and in the sweaty stabbing frenzy of the battle ending up inches from her must have been a literally petrifying experience [History 2023] ultimately Sparta would surpass all other Greek cities in the art of this particular kind of fighting first they had to beat and enslave their neighbors the mercenians this was finally achieved around the year 650 BC for the next 300 years the messenians would be forced to slave in the fields of their Spartan Masters like asses worn out by heavy burdens according to tertius [History 2023] but now that messini had been one the critical question for the Spartans became then and for centuries to come how do we keep it elsewhere in Greece cities were being torn apart by a civil war between rich and poor with The Spoils of messini up for grabs the chances of that happening in Sparta were greatly increased to keep their Paradise safe the Spartans chose to act in a totally radical way from now on Utopia was their aim they would dedicate themselves to the creation of a perfect society and it would be modeled on the hoplite Phalanx disciplined Collective and unselfish there was going to be a revolution in Shangri-La [History 2023] every Revolution needs its great leader and this is Sparta’s Like kirkus the Wolf worker I can’t put my hand on my heart and say that he existed but the Spartans believed in him for them he was a miracle worker someone who created heaven on Earth following the advice of the Gods themselves whether it was him or a bunch of people or a whole generation who knows but someone here embarked on a social experiment that would create one of the most extreme civilizations in the ancient world [History 2023] [Applause] the revolution that transformed Sparta took place around 650 BC when Sparta’s neighbors the mercenians were finally defeated and enslaved in order to keep the helots quiet and as importantly to stop themselves falling out over The Spoils of War the Spartans set out to become the most formidable disciplined and professional hop right Warriors that Greece had ever seen foreign Society became in effect a military training camp [History 2023] Spartan men would neither fish nor Farm manufacture nor trade they would simply fight and if they weren’t fighting they were training and if they weren’t training they were hanging out with their fellow Fighters the family unit counted for very little What mattered was bonding with their male peers bolstering the solidarity of the phalanx it was a program that they pursued with typical single-mindedness Martin was male Spartans had to earn their citizenship through long years of competitive struggle and the survival of one of the most grueling training systems ever invented the first test came early this Ravine a few miles out of Sparta was known as the apothetic or deposits it was also called the place of rejection because it was down there that a newly born child would be thrown if he didn’t match up to Spartan standards of physical perfection infanticide was common throughout ancient Greece unwanted babies usually girls were left on a hillside sometimes they’d be placed in a basket or protective pot so that there was at least a chance of someone or something coming along and taking the child in in Spartan as ever things were very different boys rather than girls were the usual victims and it wasn’t the parents but the city Elders who decided whether they lived or died there was absolutely no possibility of a Broody vixen or kindly Shepherd rescuing the newborn child once they’d been tossed down there the city Elders decision was Final and absolute surviving the apothetic was just the start for the boys at the age of seven they were taken from their families and placed in a training system called the agogi it means literally rearing and the children were treated little better than animals foreign [History 2023] boys this was a classroom the wild foothills of Mount dejitis where they’d have spent much of their time they were organized into Bui the Spartan word for a herd of cattle an older child was put in charge of them responsible for their discipline and Punishment and he was known as a boy herd emphasis was on Surviving coping on the minimum each child was given just one cloak to last them all year round which seems fine on an afternoon like this but in winter here it drops to -6 Food Supplies were short and they were encouraged to steal to supplement their rations if they were caught they were flogged not for the act of stealing but simply for not getting away with it was as much a trial by ordeal as it was an education the mountains also provided the backdrop for one of Sparta’s most controversial and disputed institutions the cryptair or Secret Service Brigade membership of which was reserved for the boys who’d shown particular promise [History 2023] the really hard cases were singled out given a knife and turned loose into the Wilds by day they’d lie low but at night they’d Infiltrate The Valleys hunting down and murdering any hellerts that they caught exactly how the cryptair operated and the kind of hit rate it had has always been a mystery but the mere rumor of bloodthirsty adolescent death squads roaming the countryside was enough to Institute A Reign of Terror the perfect tactic to keep a slave population quiet and obedient [History 2023] other encouraged that could placed as higher value on individual achievement the boys were tested constantly against each other and against their own limitations this is the site of the sanctuary of Artemis or fear and it was here that the competitive nature of Spartan society had its most extreme form of expression assuming he’d survived the first five years of the agogi system age 12 you were brought here for a brutal rite of passage the altar up there was piled high with cheeses your challenge was simple to steal as many cheeses as possible in front of the altar there was a line of older boys each armed with a whip their instruction to defend the altar showing neither Mercy nor restraint indoctrinated with the tenets of endurance and perseverance and desperate to excel in a public display the 12 year old boys brave the gauntlet again and again and again meeting the whips face on they sustained the most horrific injuries and some we’re told were beaten to death [History 2023] it’s easy to find yourself reeling back at the sheer brutality of a system that seems as alien and violent as these clay masks found at the sanctuary of Artemis or theater and it’s not just modern audiences that find the Spartans shocking the philosopher Aristotle argued that they turned their children into animals while other Greeks pictured them as bees swarming around a hive creatures stripped of their individuality it’s been a popular conception of Sparta through the centuries but one that misses an important point being a part of any Mass activity can be fantastically liberating if you’ve ever been in a Mexican wave in a football ground or sung in a choir or Taken part in a protest March you’ll know that being part of a crowd doesn’t diminish you it makes you stronger your reach is greater your sense of self is magnified and that was the fundamental attraction of the Spartan system the possibility of transcending your limitations as an individual and becoming part of something bigger and better [History 2023] Papa from the age of 12 onwards the boy’s training became impossible even more exacting [History 2023] reading and writing we’re told were taught no more than was necessary but music and dancing were regarded as essential [History 2023] the battlefields on which hoplites clashed were once memorably described as the dancing floors of war and a Phalanx that was able to move together in a coordinated way made for made football dancing partner so the Spartans spent many hours perfecting what was known as raw music a rhythmic drill in which changes in Direction and Pace were communicated musically foreign [History 2023] s earned the reputation for being the most Musical and the most War life of people [History 2023] at the age of 20 with their training nearing completion Spartan males faced their most crucial test election to one of the common messes or dining clubs where they’d be expected to spend most of their time when they weren’t training or fighting but entry to these exclusive gentlemen’s clubs was not guaranteed election to the common mess was by the vote of existing members you failed to measure up you could be blackballed and then that was that you were a failed Spartan publicly humiliated excluded from the society into which you’ve been born have been a living hell if on the other hand you were elected you were given a big fat portion of land by the state and a quota of hellert slaves to support you and your family you are now one of the homily the equals the warrior Elite at the top of Sparta’s hierarchy the common messes which lay a mile or so out of the center of Sparta were an essential part of the city’s social engineering intended to keep Discord and civil Strife at Bay old and young mixed hair easing generational conflicts a constant source of friction elsewhere in Greece importantly rich and poor met on equal footing the differences between them hidden by a rigorously enforced code of conspicuous non-consumption in egalitarian Sparta the rule was even if you have got it don’t flaunt it and it was applied to everything from houses to clothes even to food elsewhere in Greece rich men would lay on a couple of prostitutes crack open some emperor of wine and invite their mates ran to Feast on Lark’s tons and honey roasted tuna Sparta there was no time for fine dining in the common messes the dish of the day every day was a concoction made of boiled Pig’s blood and vinegar known as melas zomas black soup an old joke goes there’s a man from Sybaris in southern Italy the town Infamous for its luxury and gluttony who was told the recipe for black soup ah he said now I understand why the Spartans are so willing to die Spartan frugality may have shocked their contemporaries but to a modern audience their diet leaving aside for black soup sounds nutritious and healthy judging from the contented expression on the face of this Spartan Diner like Curtis’s system paid off well-nourished and free from the need to make a living or keep up with the neighbors this is someone who despite the demands of spark Society knew the good life it’s also the face of an entirely new kind of human being citizen Spartan society was one of the first to introduce a form of social contract where the duties of an individual were balanced by certain Privileges and rights on concept and one that was current in Sparta 100 years or so before any other Greek city was even beginning to think along similar lines [History 2023] but Utopias need protecting and in the year 480 BC disturbing news reached Sparta the Persian Empire was on the move a huge Invasion force was heading west by Landon sea the time had come to see whether spartas celebrated Warriors would live up to their fearsome reputation and save the Greek World from destruction foreign archeology came relatively late to Sparta it wasn’t until 1906 that a British team began the first systematic Diggs in 1925 there was a major find a striking life-sized bust of a Spartan warrior dating from the 5th Century BC these Lantern slides record the moment of discovery the bust was inched out of the earth and it became clear he was a magnificent Warrior one of the Greek workmen said without a moment’s hesitation this is Leonidas Leonidas was Sparta’s superhero the king who with 300 Warriors made a doomed last stand against the might of Persia in the pass at thermopoli there isn’t any hard evidence for that identification although he is from the right period but I think we can forgive the wishful thinking after all everyone wants a legend to have a face [History 2023] these days the warrior presides over the museum in Sparta they still call him Leonidas the name safely in quote marks but whoever he was he remains an impressive piece of work [History 2023] that enigmatic smile is typical of sculpture of a period and it gives him a Mona Lisa line quality his eyes are blank now but in their day they had been inlaid with rock crystal and seashells and would have glittered out of the Stone his torso is fantastically fit and toned his hair is very elaborately dressed and his upper lip is clean shaven it was one of like Curtis’s more fussy reforms that Spartan men should not have mustaches so if you want a picture of the ultimate Spartan here he is no very little of the real Lany does he was a member of the agadai one of the two aristocratic families that supplied Sparta with her Kings he’d been on the throne for 10 years when the Persian Juggernaut began to roll West [History 2023] Persia was the regional superpower of the Eastern Mediterranean a vast Empire stretching from present-day Afghanistan to the Aegean Sea the Greeks were an insignificant but increasingly Troublesome presence on the western limits of their empire inciting Rebellion among the king’s Greek subjects in the cities of Asia Minor it was the Persian king Darius who made the first move he sent punitive forces to land at Marathon only to see them routed by Athens and her allies the King died before he could Avenge the insult and it was left to his son Xerxes to sort out the Troublesome Greeks once and for all the Persians set out by Landon sea early in the year 480. the Army was so fast that according to the Greek historian Herodotus it drank whole Rivers dry Herodotus also reckons the combined Persian forces at more than one and a half million a more sober estimate would put the ceiling at 300 000. big enough to crush the minnow-like cities of Greece when the Spartans learned a Persian invasion was on its way they sent for advice to the Oracle at Delphi oracles were thought of as messages from the gods delivered through the mouth of a possessed Priestess Spartans would deeply Pious and they treated oracles as though they were military orders on this occasion the orders made for sobering reading famed great terms must be set by perseus’s sons or the whole land the death of the kingdom of the House of Heracles beneath the flowery language A Simple Choice was on offer capitulate or fight to the death Spartans being Spartans chose the latter and put themselves at the head of the resistance to The Invasion the Greek Force Under the command of King Leonidas headed north to stop their Advance the Gates of Fire [History 2023] in 480 thermopoli was a natural bottleneck now the sea has receded miles in that direction but then the road South was squeezed between the shoreline and these mountains it was here that between seven and eight thousand hop lights came from all over Greece the first thing they did was to rebuild a wall that crossed the most narrow point of the pass hunkering down behind it they aimed to stop the Persian advance in its tracks the Greeks were hopelessly outnumbered but they did have geography on their side if they could just slow down the Persians it would allow others to organize more formidable defenses on land and sea but for Leonidas and for the 300 Spartan warriors who’d accompanied him the mop alive was more than a strategic strong point it was the place where they intended to show the world what it meant to be a spot as a whole the Greeks made a great deal of noise about the nobility of Dying For Your Country but for the Spartans it was far more than just a platitude in battle they were ordered to seek out a Kalos Thanatos A Beautiful Death it encompassed everything that the poet turtis spoke of advancing calmly to meet your enemy never fleeing the battlefield and embracing death Like a Lover in fact on campaign the Spartans would make offerings to Eros the god of love The Beautiful Death was a sacrifice in the true sense of the word turning something mortal into something sacred the men that Leonidas chose to do the job for him here were all married older and with sons he knew none of them would be coming back Spartans who fought at thermopoli were a 300 strong Kamikaze Squad three days [Applause] three times [History 2023] then he was told about a secret pass that went through the mountains and came out behind the Greek wall when Leonidas discovered the Persians were on their way he knew the game was up before long the Greeks would be surrounded foreign while there was still time for them to escape Leonidas dismissed most of the Greek allies setting the stage for one of history’s most celebrated last stands on the final morning the Spartans followed their normal pre-battle rituals they strip naked and exercised they oiled their bodies and combed each other’s long hair they wrote their names out on little sticks and fastened them to their arms dog tags so their bodies could be identified later Persian spies observing these strange activities reported them back to Xerxes who found them laughable it was said it looked as though they were getting ready for a party in fact they were making themselves mate’s ice Royce greater more noble more terrible [History 2023] foreign [History 2023] describes the Final Act Xerxes mortalization to the Rising Sun and then ordered the advance the Greeks underlay leaders knowing that the fight would be their last pressed forward into the widest part of the past [History 2023] thank you breakfast at work and if not with their handsome teeth until the Persians militarily speaking thermopoli was insignificant the Persian Advance delayed for less than a week was soon rolling South again shortly afterwards another battle took place here in the Bay of Salamis where a Greek Fleet led by Athens destroyed the Persian ships it was a scrappy hit and miss Affair but salamis finished what thermopoli had started and the following year the Persians were finally driven out of Greece in the aftermath of Victory it was the doomed heroism of thermopoli that captured the imagination of the Greeks the model I was a stage upon which the Spartans played out the role they’d spent their lives preparing for they’d shown the world the kind of place Sparta was and the kind of man abused they’d fulfilled the ideals of their city and Justified the claims of their Utopia and by doing that according to Herodotus they had laid up for the Spartans a treasure of Fame in which no other City could share foreign 500 years ago western civilization was threatened with Extinction an Invader from the East the Persian Empire came with a huge Army to enslave the independent citizen Greece in the face of overwhelming odds Sparta and Athens led the resistance [Applause] the Gates of Fire 300 hop-right Warriors from Sparta made a heroic Last Stand sacrificing themselves to delay the enemy and set an example to the rest of Greece within days the Athenian Navy took on the might of the Persians they delivered a crushing blow to their Fleet just a few miles from the heart of Athens here in the Bay of Salamis and the war against the Persians Sparta and Athens had fought as allies but these were two very different places Athens are fledgling democracy could boast of being the commercial and Cultural Center of Greece an outward-looking civilized society where power supposedly lay with the dmos the people [History 2023] Sparta was a militaristic state ruled by a warrior Elite and propped up by a population of slaves it’s young boys if they survived a state program of infanticide were taken from the arms of their mothers at the age of seven to be indoctrinated with the Spartan code of Death Or Glory they lived mainly apart from their women who were a phenomenon in their own right independent smart physically and politically powerful these radically opposing systems were so incompatible that with no common enemy distracting them cooperation between the two most powerful city-states in Greece would eventually give way to fear and paranoia and the one-time allies would be driven to take up arms again this time against each other and so the stage was set for an epic struggle Sparta vs Athens the warrior Elite versus the dmos the result of that conflict would decide the fate of Greece [History 2023] foreign Athens the experience of the Persian Invasion had been very different [History 2023] hundreds of miles from the front line in the idyllic Countryside of Laconia the Spartan Homeland had been Untouched by the war whereas Athens itself had been invaded and its Acropolis destroyed here in Sparta in the rugged enclosed peninsula of the peloponnese the war had seemed a distant affair with peace restored the Spartans quickly returned to their usual routines the pursuit of physical and Military perfection [History 2023] this Society was disciplined obedient and above all willing to sacrifice the needs of the family and of the individual for the good of the state if necessary to die for the cause the cause was simple to protector of the utopian Spartans thought they’d created to do that they needed to produce more of their famed hoplite Warriors but beyond that the Spartans had few other Ambitions all they wanted was to maintain the status quo but in post-war Athens things were changing fast trauma of occupation followed by the Euphoria of victory was transforming the city before the war the foundations of democracy had been laid that it was democracy and name only in reality it was men with money who had to say now a massive power shift was taking place welcome to the Cradle of democracy an Athenian triary powered by nearly 200 oarsmen it was seaborne battering rams like this that had annihilated the Persian Fleet at Salamis at the hour of Crisis for Greece it was the poor of Athens who’d squeezed down onto these cramped rowing benches and sent the trierims smashing into the hulls of their enemies passes these were the have-nots of the city the bottom of the political pecking order but after salamis all that changed the oarsmen who’d endured the sweat and the stench and the terror of being down here had won a historic Victory and now they wanted to have their say Athenian democracy was galvanized foreign [History 2023] the champion of the Athenian oarsman was Pericles he was a wealthy Aristocrat exactly the sword who’d run the so-called democracy in Athens for Generations he was also shrewd enough to sense that things had changed and ambitious enough to put himself at the head of that change Pericles could see that in order to secure power he needed to distance himself from the Nobles play to the gallery ingratiate himself with the people he was a formidable orator and his powers of argument and speech won them over but it wasn’t just what Pericles said that impressed the citizens of Athens he designed a mass Civic building program that in effect would be a job creation scheme for the city’s poor all kinds of Enterprises and demands will be created which will provide inspiration for every art find employment for every hand and transform the whole people into wage earners so that the city will decorate and maintain herself at the same time true to his word Heracles opened the coffers of Athens to pay for public festivals and grandiose monuments like the Parthenon but most significantly of all he introduced state salaries for juries and War service now the oarsmen could trade in their rowing benches for seats of power in the city for the first time in Athens democracy was really coming to mean government by the people and this is where its voice could be heard the Athenian agara if the Acropolis was the soul of Athens then the Agra was its beating heart it was here that the day-to-day life of Athens took place Artisans and lawyers shopkeepers and philosophers men from all walks of life rubbed shoulders here creating the buzz and bustle of the most democratic City in Greece official posts were open to everyone irrespective of their wealth and status and you were expected to pull your weight and participate on days when speeches and debates were heard all the exits to the Agra were closed apart from the one that led up to the penigs where the Athenian assembly sat slaves with ropes dipped in red paint were chivi citizens up the slope marking out for a fine any who dragged their feet or tried to slip away in Athens democracy was enforced as rigorously as military discipline was in Sparta but it wasn’t just Athenian political life that had been revolutionized after the defeat of Persia everything from Commerce to culture was infused with energy and new thinking although the Greek Alliance had emerged Victorious from the war Persia remained a constant threat the cities of Greece needed a leader to carry on the fight against the enemy from the East Sparta had no desire to take on the job so while it turned its attentions inward Athens this confident outgoing democracy took the helm and set its course in a different direction unlike Sparta happily landlocked in the peloponnese Athens had always been half in love with the sea with the defeat of the Persians that love affair was formalized when the city was physically linked to the port of Perez by defensive walls the walls meant that Athens was now officially a sea power with all that implied in terms of trade the movement of people in and out and the potential for Empire Building the Athenians devoured their own City to build their walls Scavenging raw materials from public monuments even using headstones from graveyards the result was 12 miles of imposing fortifications erected in record time as a statement of intent it certainly packed a punch a defensive Shield designed to keep the wealth of Athens in and unwanted busy bodies from neighboring states out [History 2023] Athens became the policeman of the Eastern Mediterranean its allies were expected to toe the line and foot the bill and if anyone objected they’d soon find an Athenian Fleet in their Harbor it was trierim diplomacy this shift in the balance of power could hardly have been missed by Sparta the burgeoning Athenian fleet was evidence enough but when Sparta discovered that Athens had been building walls there was even more cause for concern the Spartans disliked walls because Bulls Define cities if you weren’t careful encouraged other things like democracy and if there was one thing Sparta distrusted more than walls it was democracy Sparta famously had no walls the tips of their Spears for the Spartans it wasn’t laws or walls or magnificent public buildings that made a city it was their own ideals in essence Sparta was a city of The Head and the Heart and it existed in its purest form in the disciplined March of a hoplite Phalanx on their way to war foreign [Applause] Athens and Sparta represented two radically different ways of being choosing between them would seem to present no difficulties Sparta was militaristic and xenophobic Athens was Dynamic and open to the world but of course things are never that simple Athens could be imperialist arrogant and aggressive and its democracy excluded women foreigners and slaves but for the Greeks their main problem with Athenian politics was its volatility and the threat that posed to their cherished value of eunomia or good order Pinder the 5th century poet called eunomia the secure foundation stone of cities and the Greeks knew from bitter experience what happened when this Foundation was threatened civil war between the Haves and the have-nots Fields left unharvested blood in the streets the Spartan system on the other hand with its peculiar blend of equality and elitism held many attractions for the Greeks its emphasis on the common good Duty and cohesion seem to guarantee good order but for the other Greeks good order in Sparta was compromised by its extraordinary attitude to sexual politics because when it came to women conservative Sparta was positively radical [History 2023] if you were a woman life in 5th Century Athens can’t have been much fun the city may have been at The Cutting Edge of all that was good and art architecture and democracy that these were intended for the consumption of men the female achievement consisted primarily of playing the part of dutiful shadowy wife in fact in most of ancient Greece women were expected to be neither seen nor heard the historians xenophen recommended that they stay indoors and for the orator Pericles it was shameful if they were even mentioned in public [History 2023] Athenian women led a very sheltered existence apart from training for domestic duties they were given as little education as possible in a society where women had no say education must have seemed at best pointless and at worst dangerous as one comic poet put it teach women letters a serious mistake like giving extra Venom to a terrifying snake an Athenian girl could be married off as young as 12 to a man chosen for her she’d be taken away from her family and would disappear into her husband’s house [History 2023] a woman’s role was to manage the family and do the chores grind corn wash or bake bread rich women who had slaves to take care of the drudgery would Spin and sow there would be the occasional saute outside to attend to domestic matters or go to a religious ceremony but basically life was confined within four walls in Sparta by contrast women were everywhere imagine airlifting all the men between the ages of 7 and 60 out of the street and you get a feeling of what it must have been like for a start there were more girls than boys because they weren’t victims of a state program of infanticide and if men weren’t away fighting or training they were relaxing with their male colleagues and the common messes women would have dominated the day-to-day life of the city a man complained that his sword was too short his mother replied take a step forward and it would be long enough easy things although Spartan women enjoyed freedom of speech and financial Liberty it would be a mistake to paint a picture of Sparta as a kind of feminist Wonderland regimental wives the bone of the system breeding Suns and then surrendering them to the agogi when they turned seven the casparta was constantly anxious about its decline in birth rate every Spartan boy must have been the apple of his mother’s eye pellets were there to do the domestic chores and there’s plenty of time to dote on little Leonidas but when the time came to send him off to the agogi though it must have been a wrench it was done without hesitation this was Sparta and maternal instincts came a poor second to the interests of the state our concept of motherhood her mother and child but in Sparta there was little room for sentimentality in a state where unswerving obedience to the warrior code was rated more highly than life itself mothers wanted to make absolutely sure that sons did their Duty their approach was more Nazi than nurture when a son left for battle his mother would issue a traditional farewell with your Shield or on it in other words either come back Victorious or come back dead but if a son fails to live up to this injunction he could expect little sympathy from mum one story goes that a mother confronting her runaway son hitched up her skirts and asked him if he intended to crawl back where he’d come from [History 2023] following the defeat of Persia there had been few opportunities for Spartan men to make their mothers proud but that was all about to change [History 2023] since the Persian Invasion Sparta and Athens had coexisted peacefully against all the odds the alliance had held firm but given the huge ideological differences between these two Greek superpowers it was almost inevitable that at some point Mutual mistrust would boil over into outright conflict in the end it took one catastrophic event to shake the foundations of the alliance and set Sparta and Athens on a collision course in the year 465 BC a series of massive earthquakes hit Sparta the consequences were devastating the loss of life was immense but the earthquakes also gave a golden opportunity to Sparta’s Enemy Within the huge population of hellerts whose slave labor propped up the Spartan system in the aftermath of the earthquakes the hellerts seized their chance and revolted the rebel slaves came here to Mount ithomi at the heart of messini the Homeland that had been taken from them by the Spartans they fortified the position and waited for the Spartans to come for all its fearsome reputation Sparta failed to put down the revolt and with the conflict dragging on it was forced to appeal to Athens and its other allies for assistance Spartan allies sent over troops to help put down the revolt and the Athenians brought in Siege Equipment Technology not developed by the Hyde band Spartans it was then that the Spartans began to fret enslavement of the messenians had always been a slightly sticky issue as a whole the Greeks had absolutely no problem with slavery but when it came to subjugating an entire native Greek population it was less easy to swallow Spartans knew this and that’s when paranoia set in what would happen if the Athenian sided with the rebels or even worse spread the virus of democracy among Spartan citizens themselves it was a risk not worth taking and they sent the Athenians home Athens took serious offense at its dismissal by the Spartans being summarily sent home with no explanation was not the treatment they’d expected from an ally who they’d only been trying to help the Athenians tore up the old Treaty of Allegiance and began to collude with Sparta’s enemies and to add insult to injury they even helped the rebels who’d managed to escape by setting them up in a new city it was the beginning of open hostilities Sparta and Athens would soon be at War this time with each other thank you the war between Sparta and Athens finally came it had many apparent causes but the simple truth was that over a period of 50 years Sparta had allowed Athens to get so powerful that its own sphere of influence on the mainland of the peloponnese was now under threat seizing upon a rather flimsy pretext Sparta declared war in 431 BC sent troops to invade Athenian territory they forced their way to within seven miles of the hated City walls of Athens itself the one-time allies were now mortal enemies the Athenian casualties of the first year of the war were given a ceremonial burial in this graveyard outside the city here in their honor Pericles delivered an impassioned speech to the crowd Pericles funeral oration has gone down in history as one of the all-time great War speeches it’s based on a simple and satisfying proposition everything that we the Athenians do is right and everything our enemies the sparkies do is wrong the Spartans from their earliest Boyhood are submitted to the most laborious training and courage we pass our lives without all these restrictions and yet just as ready to face the same dangers as they are we meet danger voluntarily with natural rather than with state-induced courage [History 2023] Heracles was a rallying cry in defense of a way of being a call to Arms against an enemy whose social system politics and even character were so alien as to make peaceful coexistence impossible speech set the tone for an all-out war that would be unprecedented in its scale and savagery history would know it as the Peloponnesian War but in fact it would rage from Sicily in the west to the hellespond in the East and would last more than two decades a vicious fighting dragon as neither side was able to land the killer blood the war quickly became a stalemate with Sparta dominant on land at us at Sea every year for five years Spartan Army’s laid waste to Athenian territory burning farms and destroying crops the Athenians fled from the countryside and withdrew Behind the Walls that connected their City to the port of Perez they became in effect Islanders marooned and reliant on their Fleet to keep them supplied within a year plague came to the overcrowded City corpses were piled high in the streets and almost a third of the population of Athens was wiped out the historian thucydides described the sufferings of the Athenian plague victims as almost beyond the capacity of human nature to endure wealth and power and no protection Pericles himself succumbed to the virulent disease [History 2023] for Sparta the decimation of Athens and its leaders was proof that the gods were on their side but Gods can be fickle according to facilities he was an eyewitness to much of the war nothing shocked the Greek so much as something that happened on that island in Sparta’s very own backyard pilos was a port on the west coast of the peloponnese and of major strategic importance to the Spartans in the year 425 BC it was seized by the Athenian Army helped by the former slaves who had revolted against Sparta after the earthquake the Spartans couldn’t stomach this provocation and sent an army to retake pilos they laid Siege to the Athenians in the town and set up a smaller unit on the mile and a half of rock that stretches across pilos Bay the Islanders bacteria their plan was to blockade the Athenians by land and water but I think they’d forgotten who they were dealing with foreign [History 2023] s were totally at home on the sea and within a few days they’d sent a large Fleet into pilos Bay They seized control of all of these Waters the tables had been turned Sparta was forced to withdraw leaving behind the 400 or so troops who’ve been posted on the island of bacteria they were trapped and for 72 days there was a standoff the stalemate was finally broken when the Spartans scored a spectacular own goal a group of soldiers stupidly let a campfire get out of control it raged across the island burning off all the protective cover the Spartans had nowhere to hide the Athenians could now see exactly how many they were and where they were the Athenians decided to try and take the island with 800 archers and 800 lightly armed troops the Athenians landed they refused to fight the Spartans At Close Quarters instead they picked them off with javelins and arrows and rocks whenever the spark and Phalanx Advanced the Athenians retreated soon it was the Spartans who were backing off leaving behind them 300 dead as the survivors headed for a defensive position at the North End of the island but an Athenian Commander sent a Detachment of archers to cut them off from behind Spartans were surrounded it looked as if this were going to be a mini thermopoli in the making over 50 years before King Leonidas and his 300 hand-picked troops had sacrificed their lives for the glory of Sparta at the Battle of thermopoli the Spartans on specteria there was no higher ideal to Aspire to hopelessly outnumbered by the Athenians this was their chance to emulate the heroics of their grandfathers and bring honor to the state they knew exactly what was expected of them a heroic struggle A Beautiful Death the final test passed but that wasn’t what happened at all the Athenians were far too smart they held back for a while and then politely sent over a Herald to ask if the Spartans would like to surrender what they did we’re talking about anyone other than Spartans surrender wouldn’t have been a surprise after all these half-starved men had been trapped on the island for more than two months and used by the Athenian archers daily for target practice but these were Spartans they’d spent their lives preparing to die fighting surrender shouldn’t have been an option so maybe Pericles had been right in his famous speech with its mockery of the Spartans state-induced courage on this occasion that manufactured bravery had been undermined by the Tactical Mouse and mind games of the opinions first they’d refused to give the Spartans what they’d wanted a stand-up fight and then they’d given them something they’d never expected an opt-out Clause from their Death Or Glory contract the myth of Spartan invincibility had been comprehensively shattered for Athens it was a victory to save her there’s a remarkable Relic from that shocking defeat here in Athens it’s a shield probably taken from one of the Hop lights who’d thrown in the towel judging from its condition whoever it belonged to would have been put through the mill you can just about make out an inscription on its battered surface that would have been punched in at a later date it simply reads taken by the Athenians from the laconians at pilos it’s a terse triumphant message along with this trophy 120 Spartans were brought to the city as hostages if Sparta made so much as a move on Athenian territory they were to be executed Spartan hostages were objects of Fascination in Athens where they were displayed in public like exotic animals you can imagine the Athenians jostling to go up at their strange captives sizing them up jeering facilities tells us that one of the crowd asked mockingly if the real Spartans had died on the island spindles would be worth a great deal came the Spartan reply if they could Mark out brave men from cowards spindles was the Spartan word for arrows a weapon they considered wimpy and womanish because they killed from a long distance it was meant to be a crushing response delivered in true laconic style but it comes across as plain sulky Sparta was so rattled by the events on specteria that it immediately sued for peace [History 2023] that Athens was in no mood to be generous it capitalized on its advantage and held out for better terms would be five years before the Spartan hostages saw their home again but when they returned they suffered none of the punishments usually meted out to so-called tremblers they were not stripped of their citizenship they were not forbidden to walk around with cheerful faces and they were not beaten up in the streets for once the women kept their cutting comments to themselves Spartan society was prolaxed but before long the laughter and mockery of the Athenians would be silenced as the final Act of this bloody war was played out [History 2023] next week on the Spartans the war between Sparta and Athens which is a bloody climax of Sicily and Sparta finally emerges in triumphant from Decades of struggle but the fruits of Victory will soon turn sour and it will be smarter’s turn to taste the bitterness of total defeat [History 2023] this is Delphi one of the most significant religious sites in ancient Greece to the Greeks it was the omphalos the naval of the world an umbilical cord connecting them to their archaic past when the distance between Heaven and Earth didn’t seem so great but as well as providing A Link to the Past Delphi was also a window on the future thanks to its famous Oracle the Oracle offered an appealing combination of contact with the spirit world and concrete day-to-day advice if you had a question about anything from foreign affairs to love affairs you’d come here should we invade Attica this summer will I marry Leander or Leonidas your answers came via a strange phenomenon in the Greek world epithea this prophetess was an old woman who wore young virgins clothes she’d get herself into a state of ecstatic frenzy by using hallucinogenic plants chewing on Laurel leaves or inhaling smoking hen Bane she’d Babble away and her utterances which appeared to be divinely inspired would be written down by a priest he’d then turned these into elegant hexameter verse and there was your Oracle oracles were notoriously ambiguous and true meaning of their references often became clear only after the event perhaps that’s why places like Delphi were by the end of the 5th Century BC becoming just a little bit old-fashioned a new spirit of skepticism and rationality was abroad in Greece and fundamental beliefs about men the gods and the universe were being called into question [Applause] than in Athens where philosophers speculated that the sun was a red hot rock and the playwright Aristophanes joked Thunder was just a bad case of cosmic indigestion foreign Greece Notions like this were simply unthinkable in Sparta safe and secure in the uretas valley it was still possible to believe that the gods were in their heaven and all was right with the world Sparta had once been a revolutionary Society 250 ago now the revolution that had created its unique social system had become embalmed in Tradition as Warrior Elite change and add to the new for a decade now Sparta had been at war with Athens its former Ally the source of radical democracy and more and more these days skepticism about the powers of the delphic oracle for conservative-minded Spartans on the other hand oracle’s remained articles of faith and when the pithia gabbled they listened so if in 415 BC some Spartans had come here demanding to know what the future had in store for their city and assuming the pithia was on form that day they’d have come home with deeply disturbing news soon they’d see the walls of the city of their greatest enemy reduced to rubble and would Gorge themselves on the fruits of victory but that Victory would turn rotten and it would be the turn of the Spartans to taste the bitterness of total defeat foreign [History 2023] [Applause] [History 2023] [Applause] [History 2023] [Applause] [History 2023] foreign [History 2023] the war between Sparta and Athens had been bloody and inconclusive ten years of fighting had produced plenty of killing but no killer blow following devastating plague in Athens and a military humiliation for the Spartans on the island of spacteria the two sides had finally concluded an Armistice and withdrew to lick their wounds after six years of uneasy peace the wounds would be spectacularly reopened in Syracuse on the island of Sicily but here hundreds of miles from Greece itself that the most significant battle in the conflict between Sparta and Athens took place for Athens it would end in a defeat of seismic proportions and what happened after would surpass in brutality everything to have gone before in this pitiless war Syracuse had been founded During the period of colonization which had created Greek cities all over the Mediterranean and Beyond in the war that turned the whole of the Greek world into two armed camps it was Allied to Sparta in the year 415 war fever swept Athens and its focus was Syracuse one of the loudest voices in the campaign for war against Syracuse belonged to alcibiades he was clever good-looking and ambitious in many ways the quintessential Athenian he was popular with the people and a fan of the new learnings had taken root in Athens Socrates was one of his friends but his enemies circulated rumors about him saying he was an atheist who mocked the Gods [History 2023] al-sibadis was a hard liver given to wine and women despite the scoldings of his wise friends Socrates during the play that had devastated Athens it was said that dissipation had tipped over into something worse at the death toll mounted the city despaired he was rumored to have shown his scorn for the gods by profaning sacred rides and yet despite this dubious reputation when assibadi’s talked War the Athenians listened in a war between a city of soldiers and a democracy it’s only too easy to assume it’s the Warriors who are spoiling for a fight but in fact the Athenians were always Keen to flex their Imperial muscle it was actually said it was easier to get 30 000 Athenians to agree to fight than a single Spartan so on this occasion alcibaldi’s gung-ho appeal pressed all the right buttons but before the fleet could get underway an outrageous Act of sacrilege rocked the city over the course of a single night an attack was made by Persons Unknown on the Hermie good luck statues that could be found all over Athens according to the more polite accounts the statues were left without noses in reality the vandals targeted the Hermes prominent phallacies a double blow against the city’s good fortune and virility [History 2023] foreign despite the bad Omens and the accusations flying around the Athenian Fleet set sail and our sibadis went along too his enemies capitalized on his absence they blackened his reputation and spread rumors about him eventually they got the city authorities to recall him to face charges of conspiracy and sacrilege alcibaldi’s knew all about the fickleness of the Athenians he was after all a master at manipulating them for his own ends Reckoning his chances of a fair hearing as Slim he went on the Run where he ended up amazed everyone Sparta and set about winning for himself a new and highly unlikely following is the crowd pleaser pulled off the performance of a lifetime his cloak was more ragged his food poorer than even the most hard-line Spartan but it wasn’t done completely cynically he was a sworn enemy of Sparta but his background was riddled with Spartan connections his family like many other aristocratic Athenians were laconophiles men who were in love with the values of Laconia the Spartan Homeland alibiadis himself was given a Spartan name he was even wet nursed by a Spartan nanny he could play the Spartan with real conviction and the real Spartans were simply bowled over it wasn’t just the Spartan crowds that fell for alcibadi’s formidable charms the rumor was that he also made a conquest of Timaya the wife of the Spartan King ajis Sparta’s sexual codes were notoriously at odds with the rest of Greece elsewhere adultery was punishable by death but in Sparta married women could with the consent of their husbands enjoyed multiple sexual partners now if you’re thinking swingers think again free love wasn’t the motivation the Spartans were acutely anxious about the decline in their population monogamy in the nuclear family weren’t important What mattered was producing healthy male children and therefore you’d choose your lover if he was strong courageous and fertile it’s not clear whether King agis was a cuckold or an accomplice when his wife puts Spartan ideals into practice but what’s certain is that the love affair would have consequences long after alcibiades left the scene [History 2023] al-sibadi’s repaid Spartan Hospitality by revolutionizing their military thinking he advised them to come to the aid of their allies in Syracuse something the Spartans would be reluctant to do convinced them to send a Spartan General philippus to help oversee the defenses and the cost way of honoring their commitments the advice would prove fatal to thousands of his fellow Athenians the Expedition against Syracuse started well but with the arrival of the Spartan General jalipus things began to go wrong for Athens philippus wasn’t a brilliant tactician he didn’t bring huge reinforcements and there was no secret weapon hidden underneath his Scarlet cloak but the mere presence of a Spartan warrior raised the morale of the beleaguered syracusans they began to fight back foreign [History 2023] [History 2023] [History 2023] [Applause] they wanted was to equals but on the very Eve of departure nature or the gods took a hand [History 2023] though the Athenians had the reputation for being the most Godless of the Greeks no one was rash enough to ignore an omen as dramatic as an eclipse of the moon the priests of the army camp advised them to hold tight and promised that by the time of the next full moon the Omens would be better it was a bad call jalipus ordered a line of ships to be anchored across the narrow mouth of Syracuse Harbor the Athenians were trapped in the fighting that followed thousands of Athenian troops died ‘s Treasury [History 2023] the survivors some 7 000 of them were taken here to the stone quarries outside town foreign s have been landscaped so you have to imagine how it was then a narrow Rocky Chasm no shade no water nothing thousands of prisoners were kept here for months many were wounded and dying and spent their last days baked by the sun in the dog days of summer my name and summer turned to Autumn Frozen at night they were given hardly any food and water diseases soon broke out and because it was impossible to bury the dead the corpses were stacked and left rot as well as hardship hunger and disease there were summary executions and torture the syracusans would bring their children to the quarries Edge to mock the defeated enemy and in this cathedral-sized mine the Syracuse and spiced up the routine brutalities with a dash of high culture for the Athenians there was only one path to survival syracusians were passionate about the playwright euripides prisoners who could recite his verses were brought here to this natural Concert Hall if they performed in a style that pleased their tormentors they were let out be sold on into slavery if you didn’t come up to scratch you were left to die there’s one line of euripides that goes on Happy Greeks barbarians to each other I wonder if any of them were Brave or foolhardy enough to quote it on the night that Muse of the military disaster at Syracuse reached Athens it was said that a whale of grief could be heard passing along the walls as the story was carried from the port up to the city itself the failure of the adventure plunged Athens into despair the years of war were taking their toll Athens was weakened and its citizens dragged down by the hardships of life on the home front in the Law Courts of the agara the pulsing Heart of the City one man complained that his mother was reduced to earning her living as a nurse and a ribbon seller we do not live as we would like he said with poignant understatement foreign should have paved the way to Total victory for the Spartans slow footed and cautious as ever they fail to capitalize on Athenian disarray after a year of turmoil Athens pulled itself back from the brink and turned to face the old enemy once again but defeat for Athens had only been deferred [History 2023] foreign the man who delivered the final blow was called Lysander he was a Spartan but by no means a typical one his Origins were humble he was a mothax translates as bastard but it meant that while his father was a full Spartan citizen his mother was a hellert possibly even one of the despised messenians whose Mass enslavement provided the economic foundation of the spark Utopia despite this mixed parentage Lysander qualified for admission to the agogi brutal training system that turns Spartan boys into Spa Warriors but what Lysander lacked in social standing he made up for in very unspartan Nows and soon emerged from the pack as a military leader and shrewd political operator lysanders Invasion 7 years before had briefly United the fractious Greeks under the leadership of Sparta and Athens now that Greeks were killing Greeks Persia’s autocratic kings were content to stand on the sidelines handing out gold to whichever side seemed the likeliest to serve their interests [History 2023] most Spartans claim to hate the Persians they despised their dissipation and sycophancy all that bowing and scraping to one man who was himself above the rule of law but Lysandre was perfectly happy to put traditional Spartan ideals behind him and suck up to the Persians if that’s what it took to get the coffers open he forged a close personal friendship with Cyrus the King’s son fans materialized and at a stroke the pay rate of the Spartan fleet was increased by 25 percent freelance oarsmen and mercenaries went with the money and it was said that the Athenian ships were emptied overnight [History 2023] fueled by Persian gold lysandre’s fleet was able to defeat Athens and her allies time and time again eventually he was able to impose a naval blockade and cutting Athens off from its grain supplies the climax came in the year 405 BC when Lysandre encountered a larger theme in the fleet as ever he outfoxed them refusing to come to battle making them think he was scared and then striking when their guard was down the Athenians were routed and their city was at lysander’s Mercy [History 2023] [History 2023] as soon as Athens capitulated resentment and jealousy simmering for decades within the Greek World boiled over into full-scale Vengeance one theban said that the city should be raised to the ground and the land turned over to sheep but the Spartans didn’t get hysterical despite the years of fighting and huge loss of life they calmly set out their terms the removal of the democratic government the reduction of the Athenian Fleet to three ships and then at this time you can sense their pleasure the total Destruction of the city walls the walls that Sparta had scorned for so long and as the city walls burnt down and Sparta was recognized as the ruler of the Greek World Lysander watched the flute girls Athenian prostitutes who camped around the city quickly changing sides Dancing In The Embers serenading the death of an Empire pro-spartan collaborators took over the city and blood flowed in the streets as old schools we settled among the victims was ideas in spite of his defection to Sparta he’d somehow managed to sweet talk his way back into the affections of the Athenians in the wake of defeat he was seen as someone who might eventually lead a fight back which was doubtless why the order came from Sparta to have bumped off [History 2023] Lysander chose to Mark the victory over Athens at Delphi he built for himself a grandiose monument that made a mockery of the Spartan code of understatement and self-effacement now all that’s left is the base but once this Monument would have been crowded with 30 more than life-sized Bronze Statues representing lysanders friends and supporters the men who’d helped him win his victory and right in the center stood Lysander himself being crowned by none other than the god of the sea Poseidon as a piece of self-advertisement it was positively Shameless astute as ever Lysander realized that victory over Athens had changed everything Sparta was now the most powerful city-state in the Greek world an imperial pair if it chose to go down that route and Lysander had big plans for his own place in the new Spartan World Order [History 2023] this is Sparta in the year 400 BC four years after its defeat of Athens on the surface things are just as Spartans like them unchanged their Shangri-La is safe and secure the river eurotast flows the mountains are full of game the fields are fertile the hellert slaves are quiet and the unique social system designed to produce the best warriors in the world has emerged intact from Decades of War but within a generation the Spartans who had boasted that their women had never beheld the campfires of their enemies would witness exactly that and the dismantling of their Utopia the collapse of Sparta didn’t exactly come out of the blue sometime in the year 400 an oracle one of those messages from the gods to which the Spartans paid strict attention had started to circulate in the city [History 2023] boosting Sparta be careful not to sprout a crippled kingship and looked for audios and numberless drives shall oppress you and the stormy blues and Men killing War shall roll down upon you most oracles were ambiguous to the point of meaninglessness but this one was very explicit it seemed to refer directly to a power struggle that even then was being played out in Sparta [History 2023] King agis was dead and there were two contenders for the vacant Throne his son latihidas and his half-brother Ajit elaeus the succession should have been straightforward latihidas was The Heir Apparent the throne was his by right besides Vegeta layers had been born lame [History 2023] the place where Spartan children who were imperfect in any way would usually end up as a small pile of bones in the place of rejection but if you were of Royal Blood then normal rules didn’t apply so ajis was spared at the age of seven he was enrolled in the agogi the Spartan education system that took boys and turned them into Warriors Papa no other member of the Spartan royal family had ever been subjected to the agogi but despite his disability ajis thrived in the competitive atmosphere [History 2023] when King agis died agita layers was confident enough to bid for the throne but it was just then that the troubling Oracle began to circulate the reference to a crippled kingship seemed unambiguously to point to his own disability and the threatened consequences were dire but oracles are only as good as the interpretation that’s placed on them and on this occasion an alternative was supplied by none other than Lysander for an old Fox like Lysandre twisting an oracle to serve political ends presented no problems all he had to do was remind the Spartans of a little bit of recent history did anyone recall he wondered when that slippery poser al-subaitis was in town the rumors connecting him with the king’s wife to Maya and wasn’t it also said that when she was nursing her baby son latihidas who incidentally arrived nine months or so after the Athenian left town she constantly whispered into his ear the name alcibiades lysandre’s innuendos did the trick allowing the Spartans to believe that crippled could mean illegitimate the sun was out the uncle was in and so agutilaeus came to the throne the most Spartan King Sparta had ever known typical product of the agogi his belief in the rightness of the Spartan system was absolute agita layeth was an arch conservative but Spartan society itself was changing the victory over Athens had brought with it The Spoils of War and Temptation for the famously Frugal Warriors the war had shown them places where there was more to life than black broth the traditional Spartan dish made of pig’s blood and vinegar Spartan commanders abroad gained the reputation for corruption and they brought their ill-gotten gains home with them for the first time in centuries the good times were rolling in Sparta ajita layers tried to put a stop to all that nonsense he led by example even once he became king he and his family lived as simply as before his ragged cloak became something of a trademark but decadence was only one of his problems his more immediate concern was what to do about Lysander lysander’s astute handling of the Oracle had increased his power in Sparta and it looked like payback time for once the consummate politician miscalculated the new king had very definite ideas about the dignity owed to a Spartan ruler during his successful Naval campaign against Athens Lysander had accumulated a crowd of hangars on and political climbers men who treated him with more respect than they did the lame King in the Ragged cloak a gcas decided to put him down very publicly and very definitely whenever Lysander recommended a course of action ajis did the opposite if one of his cronies sought a favor the king refused it he made it absolutely clear that association with Lysander meant the kiss of death the final breach came when educelius ordered Lysander to serve at his table you know well how to humiliate your friends Lysander said the king replied yes I do especially those who set themselves up to be more powerful than myself Lysander left Sparta under a cloud he came to Delphi and began to plot against elaeus he tried to bribe the Oracle into issuing alarming prophecies knowing that these would destabilize the superstitious Spartans he was killed in battle before his plots could be realized only then was it discovered just how high he’d been aiming [History 2023] sorting through his papers after his death ajita layers found a speech written for Lysander it laid out a revolution for the Spartan Constitution a kind of elective kingship open to all comers and offered to the best candidate clearly Lysander thought of himself as the most likely contender layers wanted to publicize it immediately to prove what a threat lysandra had been but one of the city Elders read it and found the argument so persuasive he urged ajis not to bring Lysander back from the grave but to bury the speech with him [History 2023] the speech was hushed up and Sparta continued as before the world around Sparta was changing fast and a series of disasters would soon prove the truth of the oracle’s gloomiest predictions [History 2023] the Spartan King ajis was a magnet for gloomy Omens it was as if the archaic powers of Greece would treat elsewhere found a way back through this Spirit haunted King a year after his accession during a routine sacrifice the priest announced announced great alarm that according to the signs Sparta was even then surrounded by enemies in fact this was hardly news for nearly three centuries now Sparta had flourished thanks to its system of social apartheid with hellert slaves at the bottom providing the sweat and toil and the periokoi the free but disenfranchised Traders and Artisans providing the commercial muscle and at the top were the homieoy Sparta’s Elite citizen Warriors a tiny minority which kept its thumb firmly on the majority beneath it so the priest’s warning about Sparta being surrounded by enemies might have seemed to be merely stating the obvious in fact there was far more to it than that a few days later a plot was unmasked to completely overthrow the Spartan system one of its leaders was kinadin he was neither a hellert nor a periok but what was known as a lower grade Spartan there were a variety of ways you could be reduced to this limbo-like state cowardice in battle made you a trembler if you were a bastard or of mixed blood you were categorized and mofax and you could even be stripped of your citizenship for simply failing to pay your subs to the common mess the alarming thing about Canadian’s conspiracy was its scope it appeared to involve everyone from hellert slave through periokoi to the lower grade Spartans all of those who’d been excluded from the full benefits of the sparta mutopia according to Canadian they all wanted to eat the Spartans role foreign once they’d made their confessions Canada and his fellow conspirators were driven through the city at spear Point beneath a gauntlet of whips to face their final punishment they probably ended up here a crevasse a few miles out of Sparta called chaadus a place of execution about this place have always been Sinister but for once it seems that locals aren’t exaggerating an archaeological survey has revealed that the cabin floor is many feet thick with human remains down there it’s a Subterranean Charnel house only a tiny sample of the bones have been analyzed but the results show that they are from the 5th and sixth centuries and belong to men women and children some of the adult skeletons are crouched in crevasses suggesting that they were alive when they were thrown down and died trying to climb out I should imagine that after Canadian’s tortuous punishment he’d probably have stayed put once he hit the bottom but the Canadian conspiracy had highlighted the major flaw in the Spartan system logical Elite Elite Sparta may have been the first Greek city to Define citizenship but it had always been the privilege of a small minority this minority was further reduced by the Spartan instinct to exclude anyone who failed to measure up to their exacting standards the consequence simply put was that Sparta was running out of Spartans a hundred years before at the time of thermopoli there’d been perhaps 10 000 full Spartan citizens now there were as few as one thousand Spartan numbers were dangerously low It produced a body bag syndrome a reluctance to commit large numbers of full citizens to battle now when the Spartans went to war they formed an officer Elite the fighting was done by helitz promised their freedom and allies increasingly reluctant and alienated from the Spartan cause [History 2023] Sparta was living on borrowed time [History 2023] when the walls of Athens had been pulled down to the sound of flutes in 404 it was thought and according to one contemporary historian that this day was the beginning of freedom for Greece overbearing and arrogant the Athenian Empire had few friends by the end foreign but the Spartan Empire had proved just as oppressive where Athens demanded money to finance its Fleet the Spartans demanded men to fight their Wars Athens had turned its allies Into Cash cows the Spartans turned theirs into battle fodder [History 2023] it was a bad time to fall out with your friends because Sparta had a new enemy to do it with thieves [History 2023] terribly speaking it’s never really been in the big league but in recent years it had been getting more and more experience thanks almost entirely to the irrational garage held against the City by King [History 2023] ‘s came to a head in Sparta in the spring of 371 BC a meeting of city-states have been called to try and sort out a whole range of better rivalries and Turf Wars that had flared up diplomacy and tact would obviously pay premiums but these were never a Gita latest’s strong points Sparta was supposed to be top dog here but a giselas noticed the respect with which the other Greeks treated the delegate from Thebes King saw red and picked a fight with him the fieben stood his ground and even had the temerity to answer back this time a giselais completely lost his temper he took the peace treaty and struck out the name of Thieves within 20 days the armies of the two cities clashed at a place called lafetra foreign [History 2023] ER it would prove to be a Day of Reckoning [History 2023] foreign [History 2023] [History 2023] so that the world knew of your Victory this was put up by the thebans in 371 after they’d crushed the Spartans here at lakera all that’s left now is the base but in its day it would have towered up into the sky dominating the landscape around but this doesn’t just Mark the defeat of a Spartan Army it signals the death of Sparta itself okay Vegeta layers wasn’t there on the day having caused the fight he refused to lead the Spartan forces into battle apparently he didn’t want it to be said that he was too fond of fighting it was left to Sparta’s other king to take charge of a mixed bag of 700 Spartan Warriors and 1 300 or so helit slaves and reluctant allies against them was six thousand febans highly motivated [History 2023] the disparity in numbers alone would be enough to explain the defeat but the thebans also employed a surprise tactic phalanx’s 50 rather than eight men deep a staggering mass of bronze and muscle bearing down on you [Applause] 400 Spartans were killed that day it doesn’t sound that many but Bear In Mind by this stage that’s close on half the male warrior population as a military force Sparta was effectively finished foreign [History 2023] the consequences of defeat were profound this was a site that no Spartan ever wanted to see the walls of the city of messini erected after laughter by The hellerts Who for 300 years had slaved for their Spartan Masters thank you [Applause] after later the thebans stormed into Laconia the heartlands of Sparta and liberated the hellerts the messinians free for the first time in centuries built six miles of walls around their new city these are walls built by people who have no intention of ever being enslaved again as for a Gita layers the last picture we have of him is an Egypt hard out at the age of 80 as a mercenary General in an attempt to fill Sparta’s empty coffers when the Egyptians came to greet this legendary warrior king they saw an old man in a ragged cloak sitting on a beach and according to one historian they simply laughed Sparta never recovered from the defeat at laughter and the loss of its messinian hellerts relegation to the second division of city-states was permanent [History 2023] [History 2023] in the centuries that followed as the Greeks ran up against the new Regional powers of Carthage Sicily and ultimately Rome the city periodically tried to revive its fortunes by reinstating elements of the old Spartan system but without their messinian slaves Sparta just wasn’t Sparta Utopia had been dismantled and no one could put it back together again 400 years after Sparta collapsed the city received an important visitor the most powerful man in the Western World in fact Augustus Caesar the first emperor of Rome he came here not on Imperial business but on a personal mission to honor the society that Rome had cherry-picked for so many of its ideas and he wasn’t the only Roman tourist this huge theater was built to accommodate all the others who turned up to experience the kind of theme park version of Spartan culture in the theater the Spartans put on displays of the competitive dances and religious ceremonies that they’d once been famous for strong Affair was on offer at the nearby sanctuary of Artemis or theater where young boys were flogged sometimes to death in a crude parody of the Rites of Passage that once took place there to end up as a purveyor of sadotourism to a bunch of Romans is a fate that not even the gloomiest Oracle would have predicted but it’s a backhanded compliment to the enduring Charisma of Spartan ideals it’s a long way from the rugged landscape of Sparta to the manicured Perfection of an English country estate but here at Stone buckinghamshire there’s a telling testimony to the spell cast by Sparta looking around this neoclassical Wonderland built for the 18th century wig grandee Lord Cobham you might assume that it was the culture of Athens that was being celebrated but in the temple of ancient virtues you can see that it’s not all athens’s show Lord Cobham obviously put a great deal of thought into the Greek figures he chose to honor with a place here at the Temple of ancient virtue this exclusive group are the men he wanted the movers and shakers of his age to emulate and so of course you have Socrates described up there as the wisest of men and encourager of good qualities his much nagged friend al-sibadis would have attested to over there is Homer the first of poets and Herald of virtue but then you get a slightly less predictable choice it’s like hergus semi-mythical founder of the Spartan social system [History 2023] the inscription reads a father of his country who having invented laws with the greatest wisdom and fenced them against all corruption instituted for his countrymen the firmest Liberty and the soundest morality banishing riches avarice luxury and lust it’s a pretty fair summary of the Spartan ideal with its puritanical appeal to self-discipline and self-denial although of course there’s no mention of the less genteel aspects of Spartan society the intimate relationships between women the brutal education system the mass slavery and the endless fighting but the greatest emission of all is that it fails to recognize Sparta’s fatal flaw that by committing to a radical idea the pursuit of absolute perfection Sparta made an enemy of change itself [History 2023] [History 2023] [Applause] thank you

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