Sunday, December 19, 2010

Comments on Comments

I like to monitor comments about my posts because they’re almost always good ones, but when people comment on older posts I may miss them because I am not paying attention to the older ones. Fortunately blogger keeps track of them.

It’s interesting to see what posts new readers are choosing. Often they are more interested in the old rather than the new. No doubt they are choosing content no matter how old the post is.

Over the past six months, the post Factors in the Development on Ancient Greek Culture has been viewed 1,117 times. It was first posted on April 22, 2009.

In second place is Warships of the Greek Navy, which has been viewed 1,007 times. It was originally posted July 13, 2009.

Third is Hannibal’s March Across the Alps, viewed 916 times. Originally posted on February 23, 2009, this post was updated with more accurate information on August 19, 2010 but the new post is not nearly as popular.

Now to the recent comments:

1. From anonymous – commenting on my post The Spartan Army after the Peloponnesean War. 6/22/2010

A refreshing text, with many rarely heard points.
However I have few disagreements as well as praise.

‘’...maintain its fighting strength during Peloponnesian wars’’ – MAINTAIN or survive. As you said, victories in that war were hollow, political ones if you like..More importantly, system did not survive, no matter how many generations were killed in 465/4,system did not work on principles from before, nor in that level of expectations. Army that was an elite in 550-470,being brought down to counting on Periokoi, Eirenes and Helots in 425 is no longer ‘strong’ and far from maintaining strength..maintain maybe in the sense of being able to prevail even more shattered enemies, but not in a sense of being on the former level.

I agree with the comment. The Spartan Army started a downhill slide once it ran out of Homoioi and had to recruit from outside the agoge. The earthquake of 466 B.C. (or perhaps 464 B.C.) wiped out a generation of recruits and Sparta certainly had to look to the Periokoi for help. I’m not sure Sparta ever got back to 100% Homoioi after that.

I would not call Sparta an oligarchy, especially with their Apella, and especially in comparison with absolute Athenian ‘democracy’.

I think the answer to this question is subjective. Sparta was run by the Gerousia and Ephors in a similar was to the Roman Republic being run by the consuls and Senate, although the details of the Spartan political system’s operation are more obscure. We know that after the land redistribution the wealthy retained their status. One expects they continued to exert great influence, especially in an authoritarian regime.

‘’Spartan army was degraded after 400 B.C’’ – I will argue it being 50 yrs earlier at least (wonder if anyone bothered to see who won which events in Olympia..Spartans COMPLETELY ceased to win athletic events which they dominated until early 5th BC, earthquake, system fall, lowering the criteria etc – I think so)

I agree.

‘’hollowest of victories for Sparta’’ -absolutely true

‘’The date 371 B.C.’’ – If I may I would call it official end, real one being much earlier, during those hollowest of victories in Peloponnesian wars, mentioned so brilliantly in the text. Even Peloponnesian wars saw the reform of Spartan army..especially with Neodamodeis being presented, and armor being discarded (and it was not because it was bad, it lasted so well for centuries..but because no one fought gallantly anymore, including Spartans, no one had time or money for cut throats became better choice than expensive hoplites, fewer in numbers and harder to equip and bring to the battlefield..10:1 ratio of mercenaries versus heavy hoplites would never work out for the hoplites..And it did not unfortunately.) That is why I think 370 is way low for a date when all went downhill for Sparta and hoplite warriors.

‘’There is no question that the traditions of the agoge were degraded after Leuctra’’ – Again I argue that it happened much before, and proof can be in the clear ‘ survive' rather than ‘excel' politic of Spartan government. By the way, junior Olympic victors from Sparta also ceased to exist completely in the 5th BC, and they were the most numerous ones in Golden age of Sparta, Archaic era – and it sounds like earthquake aka system shatter to me.

I agree.

2. From anonymous – commenting on my post Two Kings Better than One. 8/16/2010. I maybe be wrong but don't overestimate the role of the helots.

Spartan wives were the ones mostly doing all the managing and periokoi did basically all that wasn't agriculture and squire jobs. Helots did of course enable Spartans do be a full time ATHLETES and warriors, but not all credit goes to helots only, and arms and armor was not the only thing Spartiate had to manage.

The Spartan/Helot relationship was one of the most unique in history, but as I said before it was a devil’s bargain. To keep the Helots under control, Sparta needed a full time army. They lived in fear if an uprising and went to the trouble of declaring war on the Helots each year.

3. From Vojkan – commenting on my post Day -12 Sparta. 9/16/2010

This is truly an impressive article. Thank you. But
I will have two big remarks however.

Marble statue made of Parian marble is an import that may not represent one particular person, and it is called Leonidas simply because archaeologist who excavated it said 'this is Leonidas', no other reason other than that.

Absolutely right. The statute is called Leonidas but no one knows what it refers to. I didn’t mean to imply that it is known to be Leonidas.

And the other one s Villages are completely mixed up and severely misplaced in the image/map. Pitana lay behind the temple of Athina Kalioikos to the North West. Limnae was smallest village where the temple of Artemis Orthia is located.

Kynosuria was in the area of modern town centre, the Eastern part of it. Mesoa also but slightly nearer to Pitana and acropolis. Other than Amykleia which was around 5km to the south, other villages were not that far away.

I have three maps of the ancient Spartan villages: two match the image I constructed for the post and one matches your description. I do not know which is right.

Did you visit Amykleia and site of Amykleion at modern Ag Kyriaki hill?

Unfortunately no. I was with a small group and my flexibility was limited. The major activity for that day other than the Spartan acropolis was a visit to Mystras.

4. From anonymous – commenting on my post The Spartans as Lacedaemonians. 11/22/2010

‘’because there is no evidence of Mycenaean or sub-Mycenaean culture there’’ – There is no evidence in the Eurotas valley but there is in the Menelaion site.

‘’ and the Spartans were known as the Lacedaemonians from at least the fifth century B.C’’ – There is few of the inscribed monuments in Olympia, dedicated by Spartans (Akmatidas and Gorgos for example),one winning the pentathlon and one probably being one of the judges..both dated from 6th BC. So Lakedaimonioi is the term archeology knows much before 5th BC, Spartans is the term only used rarely, and in the context of Spartan citizens (while Lakedaimonioi is used in the very same context by Spartans themselves).

Later in the post I reference the use of Lacedaemonian by the Spartans as early as when there were two villages (~ 750 B.C.). Indeed, as the commenter points out, there were Lacedaemonians at the Olympics. One of them, named Acanthus the Lacedaemonian, won the diaulos (400 meter race) in 720 B.C.

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