The End of Sparta: A Novel
Victor Davis Hanson
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In this sweeping and deeply imagined historical novel, acclaimed classicist Victor Davis Hanson re-creates the battles of one of the greatest generals of ancient Greece, Epaminondas. At the Battle of Leuktra, his Thebans crushed the fearsome army of Sparta that had enslaved its neighbors for two centuries.
We follow these epic historical events through the eyes of Mêlon, a farmer who has left his fields to serve with Epaminondas-swept up, against his better judgment, in the fever to spread democracy even as he yearns to return to his pastoral hillside.
With a scholar's depth of knowledge and a novelist's vivid imagination, Hanson re-creates the ancient world down to its intimate details-from the weight of a spear in a soldier's hand to the peculiar camaraderie of a slave and master who go into battle side by side. The End of Sparta is a stirring drama and a rich, absorbing reading experience.
Praise for Victor Davis Hanson:
"I have never read another book that explains so well the truth that 'war lies in the dark hearts of us all' but that history offers hope."-William Shawcross on The Father of Us All
"Few writers cover both current events and history-and none with the brilliance and erudition of Victor Davis Hanson."-Max Boot on The Father of Us All
"Enthralling."-Christopher Hitchens on The Western Way of War
who had only their blades. Nêto in the middle of the tiny phalanx picked up the walking stick of Kuniskos. Ainias also drew his cleaver, and quickly handed his spear to Mêlon, who had Bora in his other hand. Like the Stymphalian, Mêlon had dropped his shield outside on the path before the threshold—not because either one trusted Kuniskos, but thinking they would have no room in the hut for the wide swings of the willow shield that had brought so many low at Leuktra. There was a pause before the
from classical Greek literature. Perhaps Aristotle had Alkidamas in mind when he later attacked those who taught that there was no such thing as a man suited to slavery at birth. We hear from Plutarch and others that an adolescent Philip of Makedon spent a year as a hostage with the Thebans. Though it is not recorded that he was known at Thebes as Melissos, the adult Philip bore no antipathy for the Messenians and when, more than thirty years later, he invaded Boiotia, he spared the helot city
up? War, Mêlon at least knew, is the great torch that brings such heat and light to everything and everyone. Nothing can hide from the god Polemos, not even the clever mind of Gorgos who now sang like a traitor. But then he saw Chiôn smiling; did the Spartans have any idea of how many of the red capes that one would kill? Mêlon went on and imagined that, like some high mountain bear, his Chiôn might take down all these southerners, drag them to the nearest oak, hang them up by their heels with
above, as the late-night fog lifted, and he saw the yellow moon of the coming Dog Days, smiling at the very thought of the liberation to come. “I am Nikôn. A Messenian. No helot. A free man. Born here in Messenia. Citizen of its Messenê to be. Messeeeniiiaaa. On free Ithooomêee.” Like the gray night wolf he yelled. He wanted his howl to reach the Spartans in their drink below and in dance behind their walls. “Quiet, Nikôn.” From a distance across the ravine the rival helots of Doreios on their
attributes not lightly thrown away by the Hellenes.” To scattered applause, Kallistratos now frowned and took on a melancholy tone. “We Athenians are magnanimous folk. From the time of Theseus the men of Athens have come to the aid of you Thebans. Learn from us. War, after all, has proven a great leveler. We have had our fall. So has Sparta its own ptôsis. Beware that you of Boiotia do not trip up as well.” Slowly the sadness began to leave Kallistratos, and then with an increasingly contorted