There’s little doubt that the Spartans, infamous Greek warriors from the militaristic nation-state Sparta, were unapologetic alpha-men that welcomed the glory of a “perfect death”. Unlike the other warring Greek city-states of antiquity, Sparta’s entire society was erected with one common objective, the production of defect-free infant males, appropriated by the State and tirelessly transformed into the world’s most disciplined killing machines.
The powerful state of Sparta was so pathologically committed to developing a military superman, capable of repelling any adversary that could threaten their strange utopia, they would pluck children from parents at the young age of seven and relocate them into a savage world which prepared them for a beautiful death.
This is Sparta!
Most people remember the Spartans as those plucky picturesque marvels from the movie 300, heroically bulldozing the massive Persian army into the dirt for three days.
The movie’s premise is historically accurate, a small number of Spartans had bravely repelled the mighty Persian army, until the Adam Schiff of antiquity betrayed his fellow Spartans by alerting Xerxes to a secret passage.
The Battle (480 bc)
King Leonidas chose the favorable terrain of Thermopylae (the Hot Gates) to square off with Xerxes and the Persians, at the time, the passage of the Hot Gates was not much larger than a baseball diamond. This greatly marginalized the vast hordes of Perian fighters intent upon subjugating all of Greece.
Once King Leonidas was made aware of his army’s impending doom, he generously ordered the other Greek soldiers to return home, he and his 300 would occupy the advancing Persians. Some Greeks remained on the battlefield to aid the Spartans in their suicidal last stand.
A large contingent of Persians marched over the secret passage, while the Spartans were distracted with the battle before them, the enemy exposed their rear flank, encircling the Spartans and eventually snuffing them out. When King Leonidas and his men realized that they were surrounded and their struggle was futile, they could have crumbled like average men, instead, they would make the Persians earn a victory.
The final breath
When their spears eventually broke on the bones of their enemy, the Spartans used their bare hands and teeth, desperately attempting to reach Hades with as many Persians as possible.
Although the mighty Persians eventually triumphed at Thermopylae, a despondent Xerxes and the boys were unable to successfully continue on and subjegate the Greek city-states, they eventually limped back home, thus ultimately saving the West.
During the time of King Leonidas, Greece consisted of many city-states, plagued by constant wars and power struggles, making them ripe for the plucking. However, in 338 bc Alexander the Great forcibly consolidated most of Greece and exacted brutal revenge against the Persians.
Why was Alexander the Great able to invade and conquer the Persian kingdom and establish the greatest empire that the world had ever seen? What became of Sparta?
Their sole industry was the production of an elite race of uber-soldier, they even enslaved an entire nation of people (the Helots) to labor away at the day to day, while Spartan men could focus solely on achieving military greatness.
The Spartans never enjoyed the fruits of a long-standing empire, there were many contributing factors which led to their unceremonious demise. The most obvious event to befall Sparta and grind her remaining supremacy to a halt was a disjointed battle on the fields of Leuctra, against fellow Greeks.
The Spartans were violently routed by Thebes, their one-time ally, the battle had exposed a beleaguered Spartan force that was tragically disorganized from the start. In short order the Spartan Generals fell, leaving the frantic soldiers without a command.
The Spartans never Recovered
People attribute Spartas crippling battle with Thebes as the event that broke the militaristic society beyond repair, however, it’s my contention that they already were a for-gone conclusion.
The Spartans that met for battle on the fields of Leuctra were no longer the tenacious titans that welcomed a beautiful death at Thermopylae, they’d been ravaged by unfortunate circumstances and the inability to update rigid cultural positions.
The Spartans refusal to adapt was certainly counter-productive, although their stoic conservatism was the catalyst for maintaining their stringent discipline, their stubborn rejection of the necessary retooling, made it impossible to right any wrongs.
A glaring weakness was Sparta’s bizarre ritual of courting and relations with the opposite sex, unlike women from other Greek city-states, Spartan women dominated their husbands. If a Spartan male was unsuccessful in knocking up his wife, she would enlist the services of a more fertile fellow.
The truth behind Sparta’s inability to preserve a long-lasting empire was an unsustainably low birth-rate, they were massively outnumbered by their slaves, the Helots and the very real fear of revolt definitely occupied the Spartan mind.
The failure to replace and advance the number of elite Spartan warriors had left them increasingly vulnerable to a slave revolt, they were often outnumbered on the battlefield, and couldn’t possibly maintain an empire with a beleaguered surplus of their most valuable commodity, the tenacious and hyper-disciplined Spartan Warrior.