Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Snippets of historical weirdness
Can't seem to follow history in chronological order...

It is hard to conceive of people desiring war, admiring war, building their whole lives around war. But the Spartans did this—the whole society was devoted to creating invincibility in war. The Spartans led...well, a Spartan life Their food was terrible and such small portions! A visitor said, after eating the horrible black broth they drank for soup, "now I know why the Spartans do not fear death."

They avoided becoming too hooked on pleasure except when it came to sex. What they were Spartan about was not the act of sex but about the love and all the pleasures of family life. You didn't spend the night with your wife but went back to the barracks after making love. You didn't eat dinner with her but with your fellow soldiers in the barracks. Celibacy was not an option. If you were a bachelor, hoards of women might attack you and beat you up. If you were unmarried you might be thrown into a dark room with a bunch of young men and women and grab any nearby female as your mate. Plutarch said that Spartan men might have a child by a woman "before they ever saw their faces by daylight."

Euripedes was shocked by the tarty Spartan women "They're always out in the street in scanty outfits, making a great display of naked limbs. In those, they race and wrestle with the boys." He thought the Spartans were evil.

Oh, there's too much to say about the Spartans. Eventually, I'll probably move on from Time-Life books to Herodotus and Thucydides. I can't now remember why I liked reading the Peloponnesian War

I don't know why the Spartans organized their society this way but I can imagine why any Spartan man would fight--that was his life, his only option. They virtually starved the Spartan boys when young to get them used to the idea of fighting on empty stomachs. They were known to steal food from hunger. Maybe they fought for the glory of Sparta but maybe fighting was just what Spartans did?

What is the point of domestic security when there isn't anything else in your society that is good--when your whole society is designed to make war? They turned conquered people into fighting slaves and then of course had the problem of worrying whether those slaves would rebel. Non-slaves had to be worried about threats from the inside of society and from the outside.


Post a Comment

<< Home