Never could those four sister victories, the fairest the sun ever beheld, of Salamis, Plataea, Mycale, and Sicily, venture to oppose all their united glories, to the single glory of the defeat of King Leonidas and his men, at the pass of Thermopylae.”American founding father Samuel Adams lamented that his native Boston would never be the “Christian Sparta” he had hoped for.
Fellow founding father John Dickinson considered the Spartans to be “as brave and free a people as ever existed.” Adams’s contemporary, the legendary Jean-Jacques Rousseau, practically drooled over Sparta’s myth, praising “that city as famous for its happy ignorance as for the wisdom of its laws, whose virtues seemed so much greater than those of men that it was a Republic of demi-gods rather than of men.” This just skims the surface, miles wide and fathoms deep, of the legions of historical thinkers and writers in love with the Spartan mirage, distant and wavering.
Ephialtes was neither a Spartan nor a hunchback, and may not have existed at all.
The 300 Spartans stood at the head of a force of approximately 7,000 other Greeks, not to mention their own helot slaves, who fought as light infantry.
The far-right white nationalist Identitarian movement’s symbol, blazoned in gold against a black background, is the circle of an aspis, the round shield that was a Spartan warrior’s principal piece of equipment.
It is divided by the upside-down V of the Greek lambda, the sigil falsely believed to have been painted on Spartan shields at Thermopylae.
The Roman senator Cicero described visiting Sparta to witness the diamastigôsis, the ancient ritual where Spartan boys were flogged bloody, and sometimes to death, before the altar of Artemis Orthia.
In the days of Thermopylae, the ritual had been part of Sparta’s famed agōgē, but many scholars believe that in Cicero’s time it was made even more brutal to satisfy the crowds of tourists.
” The same cry was uttered by Texian settlers 57 years later in response to the Mexican army’s demand that they return a borrowed cannon.
The words were emblazoned beneath an image of the cannon on a battle flag flown at the Battle of Gonzales where Mexican dragoons skirmished unsuccessfully with the Texian rebels to decide the matter. Bond points out in her own recent critique of Sparta mythmaking, in all these instances, “That same cannon and phrase are today emblazoned above crossed meat cleavers on the flag of the American Guard—a hard-right white-supremacist group that evolved from the Indiana chapter of Soldiers of Odin USA, an extreme anti-immigrant and anti-refugee group that originated in Finland in 2015.