Tuesday, May 5, 2009

History Lessons: Ancient Sparta (Part II)

If you haven't already, make sure to check out the first part to this lesson on Ancient Sparta.

Work ethic

The Spartan appetite for hard work was legendary and ferocious. They were universally tireless slave owners, a breed apart from the gin-sipping, porch-sitting slaver of the American colonies, a stereotype sadly responsible for giving slavery a bad name. Their workers were a race known as the helots, although the term “race” is misleading. The helots were Caucasian, as city elders determined it uneconomical to first discover and then trek all the way to Sub-Saharan Africa to capture some blacks.

In an interesting case of foreshadowing, the helots staged their own civil rights movement in the form of a violent rebellion, but were unsuccessful due to the lack of underground railroads, airplanes, or buses on which to stage protests.

Take note: if you’re planning a civil rights movement, center it around a mass transit system

The complete lack of moral philosophy in Spartan culture may also have played a role.



While Sparta might not be remembered as the great democracy that Athens was, it was undeniably egalitarian. Equality was ensured through a complex system of taxation, stringent rules on property ownership, and a rigorous policy of infanticide to weed out the weak and crippled.

This policy was enforced on the battlefield with the expectation that every soldier would profit from a campaign in equal proportion to the others, or as happened more frequently, suffer an equally brutal death.

Sparta was however notoriously backwards as regards education, in that their girls received some. Unfortunately, the decision to educate women predated the cliché that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” The influential role of women in Spartan society and their limited vocabulary of “fight,” “war,” and “stabby-stabby” are thought to have been largely responsible for much of Sparta’s constant campaigning.

Whoever educated Condoleezza Rice has a lot to answer for

Whoever named her, even more so



The policy of Fight, War, Stabby-Stabby was put into effect in the Spartans’ infamous stand at Thermopylae in 480 BC. Several months prior, Emperor Xerxes (Sexrex, really?) of Persia had crossed into Europe with an army some say was a million strong,  though fully a fifth of these were nubile young nymphs used for servicing the Emperor’s prodigious, sexy appetite. And some of these were female.

Three hundred Spartans, their helot attendants, and several thousand Peloponnesians met the Persians at Thermopylae, a narrow mountain pass overlooking the sea which trapped the advancing Persian army in a bottleneck. Several days of vicious fighting ensued, resulting in the eventual destruction of the valiant Greeks. The heavy cost in men and great delay taught Xerxes a valuable lesson: candlelight and oiled skin really help to take the edge off morally ambiguous child sex. Ok, well Xerxes wasn’t paying attention. But everyone else learned this: a rocky cliff is a dangerous place to have a battle.

Following the Persian victory at Thermopylae, the Greeks staged their last ditch defense at Plataea. Its unremarkable, gradual, downhill slope was calculated to recall in the Persians their fear of geographic features. With an army now staffed almost entirely by short-legged child prostitutes, the shallow incline was precisely the minor setback the Persians could have done without. While Plataea was a decisive victory for the Greeks, it wasn’t until legislation raised the age of sexual consent to sixteen, effectively outlawing the only thing the Persians were good at, that they finally decided to head home in defeat.


If you like the idea of more history lessons, please, do let me know, and if you have any suggestions of particular events, epochs, or civilizations, I’d love to hear them. 


Quasar said...

History? This is awesome. *involuntary kick*

I'd like to thank you for not allowing internet memes to taint this article. If only we were all so strong...

Dani' El said...

Yes, more History lessons please.
I hate them the least.

"Take note: if you’re planning a civil rights movement, center it around a mass transit system".

Or the non-violent doctrines of Jesus Christ.

You clearly have studied the Spartans, or did you just read the 300 toons?
I read something about a right of passage for the boys, who could not proceed in their training unless they killed a slave in cold blood.
Is this so, Profrodo?

Stabby, stabby? lol! funny.

Dani' El said...

Rite of passage. duh. ;)

BeamStalk said...

More history lessons, or more stabby stabby!

Geds said...

Oddly enough we never covered these issues in History 320: The Greeks. I'd like to thank you for filling in the gaps that my professor so egregiously left, um, un-filled...

Something, something, morally ambiguous child sex pun, something...

Postman said...

Perhaps the Taiping Rebellion next. I jusr re-read "Flashman and the Dragon", ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashman_and_the_Dragon ), and have been wondering what Fraser left out.

Anna Sethe said...

I'd like to see Frodo's version of the crusades.

But Daniel might hate that.

FrodoSaves said...

More history lessons it is then!

I'll make a note of your suggestions, including anything with lots of Stabby-Stabby.

@ Dani, no, just a casual interest. I was kind of appalled when the 300 came out. All these serious ancient Greeks suddenly doing Chuck Norris impressions in their underwear. Something was lost clearly lost to history in those many generations...

@ Geds, thanks for spelling it out this time. I was so ashamed of my failure to get your last pun that I almost didn't say anything.

Geds said...

Um...I wrote that one before I realized you'd missed my last pun. I literally didn't have anything funny to say this time.

Dani' El said...

I'd like to see Frodo's version of the crusades.

But Daniel might hate that.

Not if it were fair and balan...er, yeah, I would hate that.

How about the Ottoman siege of Vienna?
Or those zany Nazis?
Stalin's madcap purges?

Plenty of stabby, stabby to go around.

Dani' El said...

Did you know that our dear friend CodewordConduit is a third cousin of Condoleeza Rice?

Geds said...

You know, I got very little coverage of the Boer War in my history classes. Perhaps you could let us know about that wonderful period in history.

Ashley Joseph said...

Hell yes!!! More history lesson please. Perhaps you could something on the Romans or Mongols or Huns or Vikings...


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Anonymous said...

Dani: "Did you know that our dear friend CodewordConduit is a third cousin of Condoleeza Rice?"

Splain yerself Jebrew!


Anonymous said...

Other comments deleted due to formatting.

Dani' El said...

CodewordCondo wrote- Splain yerself Jebrew!.

I knew I could draw you out Condi!

Lol! :D