Quotulatiousness

November 13, 2017

Epic Moments in History – Top 10 Spartan One Liners

Filed under: Europe, History, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Invicta
Published on 12 May 2017

The Spartans are remembered as famous warriors but their words could be every bit as biting as their spears! Here is a top 10 list of the most epic Spartan one liners in history! Bibliography and recommended reading below:

The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece by Paul Cartledge
Spartan Warrior 735–331 BC by Duncan B Campbell
The Spartan Army by Osprey Publishing
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Script: Oakley
Narration: Officially Devin (https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficiallyDevin)
Art: Oakley and T. Hopwood
Video Editing: Oakley

Music:
“Walls of Sparta” – Total War: Rome II OST
“The Sassanid Empire” – Total War: Attila OST
“Marathon” – Total War: Rome II OST

November 2, 2017

Misunderstood Moments in History – The Spartan Myth

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Invicta
Published on 27 Oct 2017

The Spartans are immortalized in history as super soldiers bred for war. However most of what we think we know about them is a lie. Today we will unmask the truth behind the Spartan Myth.

The Great Courses Plus is currently available to watch through a web browser to almost anyone in the world and optimized for the US market. The Great Courses Plus is currently working to both optimize the product globally and accept credit card payments globally.

Documentary Credits:
Research: Dr Roel Konijnendijk
Script: Invicta
Artwork: Milek J
Editing: Invicta
Music: Total War OST, Soundnote

Documentary Bibliography:
Paul Anthony Cartledge, The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-heroes of Ancient Greece
Nigel Kennell, Spartans: A New History (2010)
S. Hodkinson, Property and Wealth in Classical Sparta (2000)
J. Ducat, Spartan Education: Youth and Society in the Classical Period (2006)
S.M. Rusch, Sparta at War: Strategy, Tactics and Campaigns, 550-362 BC (2011)
E. Rawson, The Spartan Tradition in European Thought (1969)
S. Hodkinson & I.M. Morris (eds.), Sparta in Modern Thought (2012)

August 20, 2017

Thucydides again

Filed under: History, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

David Warren found a dip into Thucydides was at least as informative on political issues today as any current “reporting”:

What a week it has been, at least in the yellow world of journalism and politics. I have had nothing new to say on anything — at least I hope to have said nothing new, for my intention in commenting on passing events is simply to repeat the old gnomes which they freshly illustrate. Thucydides, into whose works I privately dipped last Tuesday, was as up-to-date as anything I found “breaking” on the Internet.

Consider, for instance, the career of the Athenian general (then Spartan, then Persian, then Athenian again), Alcibiades — more sinned against than sinning, and more sinning than sinned against, by turns. A large man, persistently underridden by the mean and small; a hero and no saint. Loved to the point of worship by the crowds; hated by the umbrous, to the point of madness; and always “in the news.”

A polarizing figure, as we’d say today; who, for his impieties, was finally run down by a mob. They set fire to the cottage where he’d retired with his mistress. (The Spartans commissioned the mob by one account; the young lady’s parents by another.) Boldly emerging from the flames to confront the whole tribe of his adversaries, he died in a hail of arrows. The gods let only Stalin die in his sleep. (Or so we thought until we got more information.)

October 20, 2016

Sea power and land power

Filed under: Britain, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

At Samizdata, Brian Micklethwait has an interesting essay, including this discussion of the historical differences between naval and land powers (Athens and Sparta, Greece and Persia, Britain and France, etc.) and an insight into the odd growth pattern of the British empire after the introduction of steam power:

This contrast, between seafaring and land-based powers, has dominated political and military history, both ancient and modern. Conflicts like that between Athens and Sparta, and then between all of Greece and Persia, and the later conflicts between the British – before, during and since the time of the British Empire – and the succession of land-based continental powers whom we British have quarrelled with over the centuries, have shaped the entire world. Such differences in political mentality continue to matter a lot.

Throughout most of modern human history, despots could completely command the land, including all inland waterways. but they could not command the oceans nearly so completely. Wherever the resources found in the oceans or out there beyond them loomed large in the life and the economy of a country or empire, there was likely to be a certain sort of political atmosphere. In places where the land and its productivity counted for pretty much everything, and where all communications were land-based, a very different political atmosphere prevailed.

You see this contrast in the difficulties that Napoleon had when squaring up to the British, and to the British Royal Navy. Napoleon planned his land campaigns in minute detail, like a chess grandmaster, and he played most of his military chess games on a board that could be depended on to behave itself. But you couldn’t plan a sea-based campaign in this way, because the sea had a mind of its own. You couldn’t march ships across the sea the way you can march men across a parade ground, or a continent. At sea, the man on the spot had to be allowed to improvise, to have a mind of his own. He had to be able to exercise initiative, in accordance with overall strategic guidance, yes, but based on his own understanding of the particular circumstances he faced. There was no tyranny like that of the captain of a ship, when it was at sea. But sea-based powers had many ships, so navies (particularly merchant navies), by their nature dispersed power. In a true political tyranny, there can be only one tyrant.

More fundamentally, the sea provided freedom, because it provided an abundance of places to escape to, should the tyranny of a would-be tyrant become too irksome and life-threatening. Coastal communities had other sources of wealth and power besides those derived from inland, and could hide in their boats from tyrants. Drive a sea captain and his crew mad with hatred for you and for your tyrannical commands and demands, and he and his ship might just disappear over the horizon and never be seen again. Good luck trying to capture him. If you did seriously attempt this, you would need other equally strong-minded and improvisationally adept sea captains whom you had managed to keep on your side, willing to do your bidding even when they were far beyond the reach of your direct power. One way or another, your tyranny ebbed away.

Other kinds of tyranny, or the more puritanical sort, were also typically made a nonsense of by seagoing folk, whenever they enjoyed a spot of shore leave.

[…]

The development of mechanically powered ships, since Napoleon’s time, served to make the deployment of ships at sea a lot more like marching them about on a parade ground. First, the significance of the wind and its often unpredictable direction is pretty much negated. And mechanically powered ships are also, especially in the days of coal power, much more dependent upon land-based installations, the arrangement of which demanded Napoleonic logistical virtuosity. Much of late British imperial politics only makes sense if you factor in the compelling need for coaling stations to feed ships. Sailing ships don’t run out of fuel. Modern ships do.

December 31, 2012

The Spartathlon, a long distance run for true masochists

Filed under: Europe, History, Sports — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:16

In The Economist, a look at a running event in Greece that attracts only the most obsessive of long distance runners:

This year’s Spartathlon, which took place in late September, was the 30th. Its heritage goes back much further. The most famous ultra-marathon in history was that run by Pheidippides, an Athenian who made the journey to Sparta in 490BC. His mission was to ask the Spartans for their help in fighting the invading Persians; Herodotus, a historian, records that he reached Sparta on the day after he left Athens. (The Spartans were celebrating a religious festival, so could not offer help until after the Athenians had dispatched the Persians at the battle of Marathon.)

Herodotus did not appear particularly taken by Pheidippides’s feat of endurance. Since his “Histories” also includes tales of ants bigger than foxes, it probably seemed rather unimpressive. But in 1982 his terse description sparked the interest of a British air-force officer and long-distance runner called John Foden, who wondered if it really was possible to run from Athens to Sparta and arrive the next day. With four other officers, Mr Foden decided to see for himself; after 36 hours’ slog they arrived in Sparti, as the town is now called.

Racing through history

That achievement inspired the organisation of the first Spartathlon a year later; the race now ranks as one of the world’s classic ultra-marathons. The Spartathlon’s allure has two sources. The first is the difficulty of finishing it. Any race that is longer than a marathon can call itself an ultra-marathon, but no self-respecting ultrarunner gets excited about finishing, say, a 48km course. The most talked-about events in the calendar are the ones that look most incomprehensible to the average person.

Take the Barkley. This 161km trail race in Tennessee forces runners to makes climbs and descents of 18,000 metres each inside 60 hours. The Barkley has been going since 1986, and in that period only 13 people have managed to finish the course within the cut-off time. Badwater is another race that derives kudos from insanity. The 217km course in California runs from Death Valley to Mount Whitney in temperatures of 50°C and above. (“Nudity is specifically not allowed,” say the rules.)

The Spartathlon cannot claim such extremes. It is not the hilliest race, nor the hottest. But it combines lots of different tests. There is the heat of the Greek day, then the plunge in temperatures when darkness falls. There are climbs, too: the route includes a series of ascents, among them a 1,200-metre mountain pass negotiated in the dead of night. Above all, there is the relentless pressure of the clock.

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