By Paul A. Cartledge
The conflict of Plataea in 479 BCE is one in all global history's unjustly overlooked occasions. It decisively ended the specter of a Persian conquest of Greece. It concerned tens of hundreds of thousands of fighters, together with the biggest variety of Greeks ever introduced jointly in a typical reason. For the Spartans, the motive force in the back of the Greek victory, the conflict was once candy vengeance for his or her defeat at Thermopylae the 12 months earlier than. Why has this pivotal conflict been so overlooked?
In After Thermopylae, Paul Cartledge masterfully reopens one of many nice puzzles of historic Greece to find, up to attainable, what occurred at the box of conflict and, simply as very important, what occurred to its reminiscence. a part of the reply to those questions, Cartledge argues, are available in a little-known oath apparently sworn by means of the leaders of Athens, Sparta, and several Greek city-states sooner than the battle-the Oath of Plataea. via an research of this oath, Cartledge presents a wealth of perception into historical Greek tradition. He exhibits, for instance, that after the Athenians and Spartans weren't combating the Persians they have been struggling with themselves, together with a propaganda struggle for keep watch over of the reminiscence of Greece's defeat of the Persians. This is helping clarify why this day we without problems bear in mind the Athenian-led victories at Marathon and Salamis yet no longer Sparta's victory at Plataea. certainly, the Oath illuminates Greek anxieties over old reminiscence and over the Athens-Sparta contention, which might erupt fifty years after Plataea within the Peloponnesian warfare. furthermore, as the Oath used to be eventually a spiritual record, Cartledge additionally makes use of it to focus on the profound function of faith and fantasy in old Greek existence. With compelling and eye-opening detective paintings, After Thermopylae offers a long-overdue heritage of the conflict of Plataea and a wealthy portrait of the Greek ethos in the course of some of the most serious classes in historic background.
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Additional resources for After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars (Emblems of Antiquity)
Here, to begin with, is brieﬂy the context of Lycurgus’s version. Quite soon after the Oath was inscribed and dedicated at Acharnae, within twenty years at the outside (I shall suggest below a very much shorter timespan), leading Athenian statesman and politician Lycurgus delivered a prosecution speech against his fellow Athenian Leocrates. The capital charge he brought alleged desertion by Leocrates at the disastrous battle of Chaeronea of 338, in which Athens together with its then major ally Thebes had gone down to total defeat PAU L CARTLEDGE 26 at the hands of Philip II of Macedon, his son Alexander (the future Alexander III “the Great”), and his Greek subject-allies.
Besides, there wouldn’t have been felt quite the same need as there would be perhaps by us: Greeks of necessity in a largely oral world of communication had much better developed memories than we do. All the same, the resulting scope for textual or verbal manipulation, for selective memorialization, was there from the very beginning of the process—and was, I suggest, suitably and suﬃciently large to be exploited unscrupulously in the interests of a major Greek city whose hoplite warriors had not perhaps achieved on the actual battleﬁeld of Plataea quite as much as their heirs and descendants would ideally have wished for the purposes of the ongoing inter-Greek battles of competitive commemoration.
For to say that “the Greeks” beat the Persians and their allies or subjects in 480–479 bce is to be rather grossly economical with the truth, or at least downright misleading. In fact, although more than thirty Greek cities fought side by side against the invading Persians, a good number of those cities or peoples who could have joined in on the loyalist side chose not to, either by attempting to remain neutral or by actively joining with the Persian invaders; and even those few that did manage in the end to band together long enough to defeat the invaders did not always agree either about the meaning of these events or about how they should be commemorated.