BBC Radio 4 ‘The History of Sparta’

Melvyn Bragg and guests Paul Cartledge, Edith Hall and Angie Hobbs discuss Sparta, the militaristic Ancient Greek city-state, and the political ideas it spawned.

The isolated Ancient Greek city-state of Sparta was a ferocious opposite to the cosmopolitan port of Athens. Spartans were hostile to outsiders and rhetoric, to philosophy and change.

Two and a half thousand years on, Sparta remains famous for its brutally rigorous culture of military discipline, as inculcated in its young men through communal living, and terrifying, licensed violence towards the Helots, the city-state’s subjugated majority. Sparta and its cruelty was used as an argument against slavery by British Abolitionists in the early 1800s, before inspiring the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.

Yet Sparta also produced poets of great skill: Tyrteaus wrote marching songs for the young men; Alcman wrote choral lyrics for the young women. Moreover, the city-state’s rulers pioneered a radically egalitarian political system, and its ideals were invoked by Plato. Its inhabitants also prided themselves on their wit: we don’t only derive the word ‘spartan’ from their culture, but the word ‘laconic’.

Paul Cartledge is AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture and a Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge; Edith Hall is Professor of Classics and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London; Angie Hobbs is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Warwick.

Related Links


Cartledge, Paul, The Spartans: An Epic History (Pan Books, 2003)

Cartledge, Paul, Spartan Reflections (University of California Press, 2001)

Cartledge, Paul, Sparta and Lakonia (London & NY, 2nd edn. 2001)

Cartledge, Paul, Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2009)

Hall, Edith, Bridges, Emma and Rhodes, P.J. Cultural Responses to the Persian Wars: Antiquity to the Third Millennium (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Hobbs, Angie, Plato and the Hero: Courage, Manliness and the Impersonal Good (Cambridge University Press, 2000, reissued in paperback 2006)

Hobbs, Angie, ‘Plato on war’ in Maieusis (ed. D. Scott), (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Rawson, Elizabeth, Spartan Tradition in European Thought (Oxford University Press, USA, 1991)

"Poor white boys now do worse in primary school tests in England than any other main group, latest figures show." BNP

"The Lowest Common Denominator"

The phrase is by further analogy (mis)used to describe the most basic, least sophisticated level of taste, sensibility, or opinion among a group of people. This is most often used in criticism of art, products or media thought to be aiming itself at such a group, the implied complaint usually being that the subject has been simplified to appeal to a wider audience (containing only factors popular or at least acceptable to everybody). Ref, Erich Fromm ‘The Fear of Freedom’.

Culture Change, ‘The Triumph of Triviality’ "Culture change strategists all agree about the urgent need to promote “global consciousness,” or “cosmic consciousness” — a broad worldview with a high level of awareness of the interrelatedness and sacredness of all living things. It is thought that such a universality of mind leads not only to intellectual illumination, but also to heightened moral sensibilities, compassion, and greater community responsibility. Evolution. Fish to Man, Man’s Debt To The Past!A18BF3FCC5E126A2!960.entry . Ref, 1960’s ‘cosmic consciousness – changed the world’ ‘Professor Michael Sandel delivers four lectures about the prospects of a new politics of the common good. The series is presented and chaired by Sue Lawley.’

At last, 2011 – Growing Up ‘Primary school children in England will have to learn about evolution and British history under a shake-up of the national curriculum.’ What shall We Tell The Children  ‘Additional to the animal urges of survival and copulation, there is curiosity and fear of the new, both inherited from our primate ancestors. In humans they are called neophilia (love of the new) and neophobia (fear of the new). The evidence is that neophobia is the stronger urge in humans and their cousins the apes.’ Fear

Do my children get any form of public apology (from the ‘clever imbeciles, a Talmudic brand of cleverness’ – not an insult, because I was one of them. Ref, Koestler ‘Bricks to Babel’ & ‘The Long Childhood’ J.Bronowski)?, for being publicly force fed and made to say out loud – Compulsory Worship UK (you can’t be a member of my class –  unless you believe in – so on…) creationism, intelligent design, or some: incredibly muddled form of (PC) polytheism, which could take many hours for parents to unscramble, or make some sense of, to their children, if this is at all possible – being such an insidious and pervasive form of silliness (madness) and heavily indoctrinated to a very susceptible, naturally vulnerable, and totally captured young audience – repeatably, by movements: stand up, sit down, bow heads, say out loud / Hymns / Graces / Prayers, so on…

The children or young adults (taught not to live a false morality and lie, to themselves and others) may be found out to be greatly less critical, somewhat more caring, and very greatly less prone to all types of discrimination, quite rightly, they may be, very much more wary of (suspect) authority, or any types of authoritarianism, which has been created in egoistic selfishness (warmongering, politics, ideology, religious – otherwise) and just for the sake of it (in the employment of an elite). Their actions may not be dulled by an undue hesitation; living in tune with nature, and in, not hesitating to protect that nature, as they realise it is their, and theirs directly, or even instantly, a life source and immediate lifeblood, for survival.

Sect, creed, and culture, playing second fiddle; if playing at all in their minds, with their best taught and learnt “global consciousness,” or “cosmic consciousness” in the forefront of everything, with themselves only to answer to, and without a mystical reliance in the so called here or hereafter, on some magical form of rescue. Ref, Google – "Children and Vulnerable Adults Self-Harming…, taught at schools about ‘spirituality’ and its relationship to chance events. So what is the key to self-confidence? Do not be swayed by the opinions of others."!A18BF3FCC5E126A2!1860.entry 

About luckyme0

My First family, second marriage, bringing up my 18-year-old twins, boy, and girl. I am a third generation Humanist, who has some old handwritten information and notes; collected over many years. Someone may find the articles interesting, or helpful. They could bring back a little ‘reality’, after being ‘shocked’ and ‘brainwashed’, by some malicious group, or institution (REBT Therapy). People should know better, than to do this, to our very young, and the ‘obviously’ vulnerable! Go to easily accessible, non-superstitious knowledge that is not charlatanism! The blog has given me an incentive to order my thoughts, learn, and read up again, after a few non-thinking years of (very silly) imagination and passion. Why not, get your own key to a ‘door’, customise it to suit you, and it can be, all of your very own! Don’t believe, or be led by someone else’s; inherited, stupid, and a very likely (past, and not of today’s) ‘totally preposterous reality’s’. Only some interest in the ‘really big questions’, keeps life above the level of a farce, and very little else! KEEP THINKING! Some of the posts may need some correcting. Interests: REBT Counselling, Atheism, Secularism, Humanism, Psychology, Reading, Popular Science, School Ethos, Philosophy, History, Family, Parenting, Psychology, Horse Riding, Sailing, Rescue Boat Driver, Skiing (Teppichswinger), TV Documentaries, Motorbike Cross Country Riding, Volunteer Sports Stewarding, Writing, Primitive Man, Pre-history, Social Anthropology, British Humanist Association, BHA, Meaning of Life, The Big Questions, Where am I, What am I, Why am I, Hippie Love, Knowledge, Education, Globalisation. Favorite quote: “The world belongs to those who, at least to some degree, have figured it out.” Carl Sagan, ‘The Demon Haunted World’, ‘Contact’, and other famous books DVD ‘Cosmos’. The warning of another and horrendous, “Age of Superstition”. “Isn’t there something deeply absurd in the presumption that children ought to inherit beliefs from their parents. It can be deeply damaging, even lethally divisive. A ‘them’, with an ‘against us’, mentality” – Professor Richard Dawkins. “The will to believe is stronger than mere reason in the vast majority of people” – Dr J.Brown, Army Psychologist of the 1960′s. Humans will believe in almost anything, in fact, they seek it! Why? “98% of us, trained to be just good consumers, let’s train our children to be the 2% who have their very own creativity and discernment”; quote by a famous surreal artist. “The lack of reason brings forth monsters”. “Global interconnectedness is lethal against mass religion, nationalism, racism, and other destructive memeplexes. Let us connect everybody they hate it in restrictive regimes”; from the ‘meme learning group’, Richard Brodie’s book, ‘Virus Of The Mind’ (Richard Brodie a designer for ‘Microsoft Word’). Following on, J.Bronowski, and ‘The Ascent Of Man’ TV series, and a book with the last DVD in this series, ‘The Long Childhood’ being especially revealing. ‘Prehistory’ and the ‘Making of the Human Mind’ by Colin Renfrew, with P.Wilson’s, ‘The Domestication of the Human Species’, and Nigel Spivey’s, TV series and book, ‘How Art Made The World’, offers some further explanations. Latest reading: Jared Diamond
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