Anton Powell’s “Classical Sparta: Techniques behind her Success”

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Anton Powell teaches Greek Classics at the University of Wales. He is the author of several books and has been founder and Director of the University of Wales Institute of Classics and Ancient History. “Classical Sparta: techniques behind her success,” is a collection of essays. This book is a first edition and was published in 1989. This book sets to investigate the Spartan’s particular form and system of government that is frequently overlooked and undervalued. Though Sparta once dominated Greece, recent scholars are focused more so on the demise and rapid decline of Sparta along with its repressive nature.

The essays within the book focuses on the distinctive practices that were effective in Spartan polity and successfully highlights the primes of this polis despite its size. Most people emphasize and focus on the failure of Sparta, here we see where it succeeded. This book is intended for scholars and those who are repelled by Sparta’s authoritarian nature. The diction of this book appeals for both specialist and non-specialist with basic knowledge of Ancient Greece and Classical Sparta and makes it quite comprehensible for a wide range of readers. Though the contents tied together to supports the book’s argument, the flow and consistency of style of the essays were absent.

This topic had not been specifically and thoroughly elaborated upon, the collection of essays are well chosen and suitibaly support the author’s mission. The essays locate and investigate Sparta’s success in its unusual, somewhat odd, and effective procedures. Essays addressed social practices of the citizens. In “Laughter in Spartan Society” by Ephraim David and “Drink, Hybris and the Promotion of Harmony in Sparta,” by N.R.E Fischer, similar elements of social practices of the Spartans were discussed. The syssitia, common meals for men and youths in a sort of social or religious group, were often held in a banquet setting. In this environment, joy and laughter would come about naturally,however, this tradition was established beyond simply creating exuberance among the men.

Spartans showed great reverence to the goddess of laughter, Baubo, and used laughter to control a variety of aspects of society. Laughter and teasing, combining geniality and hostility, simulated virtues of cooperation and competition among the people. The helots, the class in between slaves and citizens, were made very drunk in order to serve as the objects and victims of teasing and mockery. These teasing contests that were held helped determine the potential of future leaders. The role of the syssitia in Spartan society was to promote harmony and rid of excessive pride and social tensions.

The book not only discussed specific ideological and social practices that contributed to Sparta’s success, but institutional habits as well. “Non-state” and “state” propaganda was distinguished in “Spartan Propaganda,” by J.T. Hooker’s essay. Propaganda was used quite often by individuals within Sparta in order to advance their own agenda. The state promoted propaganda reflected specific situations in a period of time where a particular issue was most prevalent. Other state propaganda emulated firmly held beliefs of the authority in power as well as Sparta as a whole. Those messages were about the image of Sparta which it thought attractive to project. The main images of Sparta projected were, the model of stable government and a place where virtue in its citizens was guaranteed, and Sparta as the epitome of military expertise. There were also statements of the use of trickery and deceit used by Spartans in order to acquire their objectives relating to politics, military, ideological, ect.

The contribution this book has to our understanding of the inclinations of Spartan society is useful. Both primary and secondary evidence was used, as well as computer generated data was fabricated in order to make predictions. Evidence is very limited and the author utilized available information and proofs to the furthest extent possible. Because the success of Sparta is not so commonly investigated and discussed, the materials used were scarce and materials of special interests.

The writing was objective for the imperfections of classical Sparta was addressed, but the practices and traditions of the society that contributed to Sparta’s dominating success were highlighted, as that is what the book set out to do. Most contents of the essays were interconnected and corresponding towards the main scope of the book.

However, sometimes it felt as though certain accounts were pushed and forced to make full circle in relation to the overall success of Sparta. In some sense the author’s style and choice of essays contributes to the book’s arguments because they are varied and can be viewed as diverse sources. Yet, on one hand, the variation of style between essays can also make the reader feel as though there is a lack of cohesion and unity. Some pieces are speculative and cannot be proven such as the fourth essay which focuses on the nature of inheritance of Spartan women.

Stephen Hodkinson’s “Inheritance, Marriage and Demography: Perspectives upon the Success and Decline of Classical Sparta,” advances his hypothesis based off of evidence that cannot be proven. This was the computer-generated evidence on population patterns, which is an original approach, but not solid, verified proof. Hodkinson’s analysis is however, a beneficial contribution to the book. Though, as a whole, the evidence for the success of Classical Sparta has a multitude of limitations, “Classical Sparta: techniques behind her success,” is still of great use to scholars and individuals interested in this specific subjects mater.


Cite this paper

Anton Powell’s “Classical Sparta: Techniques behind her Success”. (2021, Aug 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/anton-powells-classical-sparta-techniques-behind-her-success/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out