The Greek Superpower. Sparta in the Self-Definitions of Athenians.
Edited by Paul Cartledge and Anton Powell
ISBN: 9781910589632, hardback, 280pp, 2018, GB £65
 

Even Greeks – in later times – saw Athens as ‘the Hellas of Hellas’, the moral standard-bearer of Greek civilisation. But in the classical period many Athenians thought otherwise: Athens might be a school of Hellas, but the school of Hellas was Sparta. Spartan soldiers dominated the Greek mainland and beyond, and in 404 bc Sparta enforced the total military surrender of Athens. The cause of this supremacy was seen as the uniquely harmonious subordination of Sparta’s citizens to their city’s interest.

This book explores Athenians’ thinking about Sparta’s military and moral ascendancy. In nine new studies from a distinguished international cast, the works of Athenian politicians, writers and artists are examined so as to reveal mentalities in the wider city which, at the extreme, might cause Athenians to revere Sparta even as they fought her. Such respect culminated not only in Plato’s literary creation of fantasy cities (in the Republic and Laws) which imitated Spartan methods, but even in a short-lived claim by ruling Athenian politicians that Athens, after its military surrender, was to be remodelled as itself a New Sparta.

 

Contents

Introduction: Paul Cartledge (Cambridge) & Anton Powell (Swansea)
Carol Atack (Cambridge): `The kings and I: Athens and Sparta in Isocrates' imaginary'
Edith Hall (KCL): `Euripides, Sparta and the self-definition of Athenians'
Fritz-Gregor Herrmann (Swansea): `Plato's Republic as ideal version of Sparta?'
Marcello Lupi (Naples): `Gained in translation: Spartan syssitia and Athenian oligarchical vocabulary'
Ellen Millender (Reed): `Athens, Sparta and the techne of deliberation'
Anton Powell (Swansea): `Athens as new Sparta? The revolution of 404-3'
Nicolas Richer (Lyon): `The contribution of Spartan practices to Xenophon's political and moral thought'
Ralph Rosen (Penn): `Sparta and Spartans in Old Comedy: paradox, genre and meaning'
Malcolm Schofield (Cambridge): `Aristotle's critique of Spartan imperialism'
Michael Scott (Warwick): `Architectural and artistic responses to Sparta'