Thursday, May 24, 2012
Helena Schrader has finally revealed Sparta and Spartan society as it most probably would have been. This is not the Sparta of many modern European writers, but Helena shows a society where literacy was an essential tool of all citizens (Spartan soldiers also travelled regularly as envoys and on diplomatic missions - makes it a bit hard if you are an ignorant illiterate doesn't it? Also Spartan women managed property - I wonder how they did the books and kept the good management they were famous for?), and the Agoge was more in line with a boarding school education now. Indeed even now, many Army officers I know went from an elite GPS boarding school to Royal Military College Duntroon, and then to their Regiments in a very similar progression to Spartan youth.
Now a retired Australian Army Officer, my military special study was Sparta, and it constantly annoyed me that many writers espoused a society that could not have produced either the successful and prosperous culture, or the military supremacy that Sparta had for hundreds of years. It should be remembered that for Spartan citizens, this was a genuine democracy, who the rest of Greece looked to for defence from tyrannical governments. Even Athens had sought their help here. Helena explores what the real Sparta probably was, through the eyes of a fairly modest kid, who proves to be very real and very 'normal' but who will become the only Spartan King to ever undergo the Agoge. Helena's portrayal of Leonidas as a developing personality fits perfectly with the man who will become one of the iconic 'heroes' of history.
Thank you Helena for the real Sparta, and the real Leonidas.
I can barely wait to begin book 2.