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The Battle of Plataea in 479 BCE is one of world history's unjustly neglected events. It decisively ended the threat of a Persian conquest of Greece. It involved tens of thousands of combatants, including the largest number of Greeks ever brought together in a common cause. For the Spartans, the driving force behind the Greek victory, the battle was sweet vengeance for their defeat at Thermopylae the year before. Why has this pivotal battle been so overlooked? In After Thermopylae, Paul Cartledge masterfully reopens one of the great puzzles of ancient Greece to discover, as much as possible, what happened on the field of battle and, just as important, what happened to its memory. Part of the answer to these questions, Cartledge argues, can be found in a little-known oath reputedly sworn by the leaders of Athens, Sparta, and several other Greek city-states prior to the battle-the Oath of Plataea. Through an analysis of this oath, Cartledge provides a wealth of insight into ancient Greek culture. He shows, for example, that when the Athenians and Spartans were not fighting the Persians they were fighting themselves, including a propaganda war for control of the memory of Greece's defeat of the Persians. This helps explain why today we readily remember the Athenian-led victories at Marathon and Salamis but not Sparta's victory at Plataea. Indeed, the Oath illuminates Greek anxieties over historical memory and over the Athens-Sparta rivalry, which would erupt fifty years after Plataea in the Peloponnesian War. In addition, because the Oath was ultimately a religious document, Cartledge also uses it to highlight the profound role of religion and myth in ancient Greek life. With compelling and eye-opening detective work, After Thermopylae provides a long-overdue history of the Battle of Plataea and a rich portrait of the Greek ethos during one of the most critical periods in ancient history.
During the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, a Greek force of approximately 7,000 faced the biggest army ever seen in the Greek peninsula. For three days, the Persians—the greatest miltary force in the world—were stopped in their tracks by a vastly inferior force, before the bulk of the Greek army was forced to retreat with their rear guard wiped out in one of history's most famous last stands. In strict military terms it was a defeat for the Greeks. But like the British retreat from Dunkirk or the massacre at the Alamo, this David and Goliath story has taken on the aura of success. Thermopylae has aquired a glamour exceeding the other battles of the Persian Wars, passing from history into myth, and lost none of that appeal in the modern era. In Thermopylae, Chris Carey analyses the origins and course of this pivotal battle, as well as the challenges facing the historians who attempt to seperate fact from myth and make sense of an event with an absence of hard evidence. Carey also considers Thermopylae's cultural legacy, from it's absorbtion into Greek and Roman oratorical traditions, to its influence over modern literature, poetry, public monuments, and mainstream Hollywood movies. This new volume in the Great Battles series offers an innovative view of a battle whose legacy has overtaken it's real life practical outcomes, but which showed that a seemingly unstoppable force could be resisted.
The effects of war refuse to remain local: they persist through the centuries, sometimes in unlikely ways far removed from the military arena. In Ripples of Battle, the acclaimed historian Victor Davis Hanson weaves wide-ranging military and cultural history with his unparalleled gift for battle narrative as he illuminates the centrality of war in the human experience. The Athenian defeat at Delium in 424 BC brought tactical innovations to infantry fighting; it also assured the influence of the philosophy of Socrates, who fought well in the battle. Nearly twenty-three hundred years later, the carnage at Shiloh and the death of the brilliant Southern strategist Albert Sidney Johnson inspired a sense of fateful tragedy that would endure and stymie Southern culture for decades. The Northern victory would also bolster the reputation of William Tecumseh Sherman, and inspire Lew Wallace to pen the classic Ben Hur. And, perhaps most resonant for our time, the agony of Okinawa spurred the Japanese toward state-sanctioned suicide missions, a tactic so uncompromising and subversive, it haunts our view of non-Western combatants to this day.
Describes ten of the most important battles that changed the world.
The Spartan legend has inspired and captivated subsequent generations with evidence of its legacy found in both the Roman and British Empires. The Spartans are our ancestors, every bit as much as the Athenians. But while Athens promoted democracy, individualism, culture and society, their great rivals Sparta embodied militarism, totalitarianism, segregation and brutal repression. As ruthless as they were self-sacrificing, their devastatingly successful war rituals made the Spartans the ultimate fighting force, epitomized by Thermopylae. While slave masters to the Helots for over three centuries, Spartan women, such as Helen of Troy, were free to indulge in education, dance and sport. Interspersed with the personal biographies of leading figures, and based on thirty years' research, Paul Cartledge's The Spartans tracks the people from 480 to 360 BC charting Sparta's progression from the Great Power of the Aegean Greek world to its ultimate demise.

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