ICYMI: This Is (Not) Sparta!

When you hear the word Sparta, there’s an immediate association with war and the military. Of the Greek City States, it’s the one most associated with battle. Spartan men were expected to be warriors and their society was geared almost entirely toward training for war. For generations, military leaders have drawn inspiration from Sparta.


Much of the romance around Sparta centers Around the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE, where the Persian Empire crushed a small and ill-equipped collection of elite soldiers. Since then, historians, propagandists, Hollywood, and the American military have turned Sparta’s epic defeat at the gates of fire into a myth of slavery vs freedom, east vs west, and democracy vs despotism. But the thing is … a lot of what hear about the Spartans is bullshit, the truth is more complicated.


Here to help us unpack modern day mythos around Sparta is Pauline Kaurin. Kaurin is the Chair of Military Ethics at the US Naval War College and the author of The Warrior, Military Ethics and Contemporary Warfare: Achilles Goes Asymmetrical.


Disclaimer: Pauline Kaurin's opinions are her own and do not reflect the opinions or policy of the US Naval War College.


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