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A compelling narrative exploring the culture and civilization of the most famous "warrior people": the Spartans of ancient Greece, told by the world's leading expert in the field.
Sparta has often been described as the original Utopia-a remarkably evolved society whose warrior heroes were forbidden any other trade, profession, or business. As a people, the Spartans were the living exemplars of such core values as duty, discipline, the nobility of arms in a cause worth dying for, sacrificing the individual for the greater good of the community (symbolized in the tale of Thermopylae), and the triumph of will over seemingly insuperable obstacles-qualities that today are frequently believed to signify the ultimate heroism.
In a work that resounds with the battle cries of the ancient Greeks, Paul Cartledge, the distinguished scholar and historian who has long been seen as the leading international authority on ancient Sparta, traces the evolution of Spartan society-the culture and the people, as well as the tremendous influence they had on their world and even ours. He details throughout the narrative the lives of such illustrious and myth-making figures as Lycurgus, King Leonidas, Helen of Troy (and Sparta), and Lysander, and explains how the Spartans, although they placed a high value on masculine ideals, nevertheless allowed women an unusually dominant and powerful role-unlike Athenian culture with which the Spartans are so often compared.
In resurrecting the ancient culture and society of the Spartans, Cartledge delves deep into ancient texts and archeological sources and complements his text with illustrations that depict original Spartan artifacts and drawings, as well as examples of representational paintings from the Renaissance onwards-including J.L. David's famously brooding "L onidas in Thermopylae" to, a century later, Degas' "The Young Spartans."
The Spartans is an illuminating volume that ties in with the PBS television series of the same name, airing in the summer of 2003. Booklist called Cartledge's The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization, a companion to the PBS series, "superb," while The International History Review called Cartledge's The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece "an original and insightful work."
Paul Cartledge is widely acknowledged to be the world's leading expert on the subject of Sparta and the Spartans. He is a Professor of Greek History and the Chairman of the Classics Faculty at Cambridge University. Among the many articles and books he has written and edited are Spartan Reflections, Sparta and Lakonia, Hellenistic and Roman Sparta, and The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others. He is academic consultant to the BBC and PBS for the series The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization.