After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the by Paul A. Cartledge

By Paul A. Cartledge

The conflict of Plataea in 479 BCE is one in all global history's unjustly missed occasions. It decisively ended the specter of a Persian conquest of Greece. It concerned tens of millions of warring parties, together with the biggest variety of Greeks ever introduced jointly in a standard reason. For the Spartans, the driver at the back of the Greek victory, the conflict used to be candy vengeance for his or her defeat at Thermopylae the yr sooner than. Why has this pivotal conflict been so overlooked?
In After Thermopylae, Paul Cartledge masterfully reopens one of many nice puzzles of old 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 seemingly sworn through the leaders of Athens, Sparta, and a number of other Greek city-states ahead of the battle-the Oath of Plataea. via an research of this oath, Cartledge offers a wealth of perception into historic Greek tradition. He exhibits, for instance, that once the Athenians and Spartans weren't scuffling with the Persians they have been scuffling with themselves, together with a propaganda warfare for keep watch over of the reminiscence of Greece's defeat of the Persians. This is helping clarify why this present day we with ease keep 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 ancient reminiscence and over the Athens-Sparta contention, which might erupt fifty years after Plataea within the Peloponnesian conflict. furthermore, as the Oath was once finally a non secular rfile, Cartledge additionally makes use of it to spotlight the profound position of faith and fantasy in historical 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 essentially the most severe sessions in historical heritage.

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Additional resources for After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars (Emblems of Antiquity)

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Failure to provide due burial to a kinsman could result, it was generally believed, in serious damage to the living inflicted by the dead person’s deeply offended spiritual avatars. Failure to provide or refusal to allow due post-battle burial, as the Thebans insisted upon in the case of the Athenian corpses after the battle of Delium in 424 bce, was an extreme instance of highly unusual and irregular flouting of this general religious taboo. It is this same concern for proper burial that explains, for example, the utter ferocity with which the Spartans fought at Thermopylae to recover the corpse of Leonidas—to no avail, ultimately; though whether one be lieves that the Persians really did mutilate it, as Herodotus vividly describes, depends on whether one attributes the no doubt sincere Spartan belief in and report of that alleged decapitation to mere cultural prejudice.

Part of the answer to the second can be found in a little-known Oath, our Oath of Plataea, that was purportedly sworn by the leaders of several Greek city-states prior to the battle (chapter 2). The Oath is in form a religious document (chapter 3). Texts of it survive in several versions from the fourth century bce and later periods; and their very creation and survival tell us much about the early Greek mythology of the Persian Wars, and how the Greeks thought about memorializing these events for posterity (chapter 6).

This book in the “Emblems” series takes as its focus a document from Graeco-Roman antiquity. It contains multiple symbols and is susceptible of yielding meanings of different sorts. I should make it clear, right from the start, where I stand on the issue of just one of those possible meanings: the complicated question of the document’s authenticity. In the literal sense, as a text inscribed upon a finely honed and adorned piece of Athenian marble sometime during the third quarter of the fourth century bce, the version of the “Oath of Plataea” included here is unarguably authentic—no one has faked the monument as a whole of which the document in question forms a part.

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