After Thermopylae

After Thermopylae : The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars

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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.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 142.24 x 210.82 x 25.4mm | 158.76g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 13 illus., including four maps
  • 0199747326
  • 9780199747320
  • 150,657

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Review quote

After Thermopylae is completely consistent with the commonsense, well-written, and comprehensive scholarship that we have come to expect from Paul Cartledge. His endeavour has produced a carefully and well-researched book, which stands as an important contribution not only to ancient Greek warfare but also to the larger issues of reception and cultural memory. Bryn Mawr Classical Review The book seeks to reach a broad general readership, and is written in lucid and lively prose. Nick Romeo, Times Literary Supplement This book is a thoughtful and engaging starting-point for anyone interested not only in the Graeco-Persian Wars, but also in the way future generations use the memory of war. Bijan Omrani, Military History Monthly Highly recommended. S.M. Burstein, CHOICE

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About Paul Cartledge

Paul Cartledge is the inaugural A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge, and recently the Hellenic Parliament Global Distinguished Professor in the History and Theory of Democracy at New York University. His previous books include Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction, Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World, and The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece. He is an honorary citizen of modern Sparta and holds the Gold Cross of the Order of Honor awarded by the President of Greece.

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