Hellenistic and Roman Sparta: A Tale of Two Cities

Hellenistic and Roman Sparta: A Tale of Two Cities

Hellenistic and Roman Sparta: A Tale of Two Cities

Hellenistic and Roman Sparta: A Tale of Two Cities

Synopsis

In this new edition, Paul Cartledge and Antony Spawforth have taken account of recent finds and scholarship to revise and update their authoritative overview of later Spartan history, and of the social, political, economic and cultural changes in the Spartan community.This original and compelling account is especially significant in challenging the conventional misperception of Spartan 'decline' after the loss of her status as a great power on the battlefield in 371 BC.The book's focus on a frequently overlooked period makes it important not only for those interested specifically in Sparta, but also for all those concerned with Hellenistic Greece, and with the life of Greece and other Greek-speaking provinces under non-Roman rule.

Excerpt

The aim of this book is to offer an account of Sparta over the eight centuries or so between her loss of 'great power' status in the second quarter of the fourth century BC and the temporary occupation of the late antique city by the Gothic chieftain Alaric in AD 396. Books on Sparta are hardly rare. One of the chief novelties of this one is that it sets out to give full weight to the Roman phase in Sparta's story, rather than making of it the usual epilogue or (at best) final chapter in a study preoccupied with the earlier periods. We thereby hope to provide a book which will interest, not only students of Sparta tout court, but also those concerned with the life of Greece and other Greek-speaking provinces under Roman rule.

Hellenistic Sparta, however, had entered the Roman Empire by no mundane route. In line with her age-old and deeply-entrenched particularism, and indeed by revivifying her esoteric traditions of political and socio-economic organization under the slogan of a return to the 'constitution of Lycurgus', Sparta resisted Roman incorporation right up to the last possible moment. And before Rome, Macedon and the Achaean League had been treated to a similarly defiant denial. For although old Greece ('old' by comparison with the post-Alexander Hellenic diaspora) as a whole was de facto subjugated by Macedon in 338 BC, Sparta persisted in ploughing an isolationist and oppositionist furrow, remaining de jure independent not just of Macedon but also of all Greek multi-state organizations (not excluding their anti-Macedonian manifestations), until she was formally and forcibly incorporated in the by then Rome-dominated Achaean League in 192 BC. This was the culmination, or nadir, of an extraordinary pentekontaëtia during which a succession of Spartan kings (alias 'tyrants' to their articulate enemies) sought with surprising success to maintain the traditional freedom and self-determination of the Greek polis. This they achieved in spite or because of the most extreme measures of domestic reform, measures that some observers then and now would controversially label 'revolutionary', notwithstanding the ideological appeal to supposedly ancestral 'Lycurgan'

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