Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lecture by Paul Cartledge on After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars

Paul Cartledge spoke at the SPHS Autumn Lecture, Tuesday November 12th 2013 held at The Hellenic Centre in London. Thanks to David Meadows at rogueclassicism for posting a link to this lecture.

My post on the book can be found here.

“The story I have one of commemoration, of rivalry, classically ancient Greek rivalry for commemoration priority.” In other words, who would get the greatest honor or credit for the defeat of the Persians? In my post I described the oath as part of a fight for historical memory. Cartledge’s description is more exact. I’m going to provide a few notes from the lecture--they aren’t meant to sum up the talk but provide some additional information that supplements my post on his book.

  • Cartledge had a minor consulting role for the movie 300. From his anecdote it sounds like his focus was on pronunciation of names (and they didn't always take his advice).

  • Herodotus has the most complete description of the Battle of Plataea. As a supposedly objective recorder of the battle, Herodotus described Plataea as “the fairest victory of all those we know.” Cartledge describes this as a drop in the ocean of anti-Spartan sentiment.

  • Cartledge mentions William Shepherd’s recent book on the battle: Plataea 479 BC: Greece’s Greatest Victory (Osprey). He also recommends looking at Tom Holand’s recent translation of Herodotus (in which Cartledge wrote the Introduction and Notes). See Amazon UK for a preview, which includes the Translator’s Preface and Cartledge’s Introduction.

  • After going into detail about the monument with the Oath of Plataea, Cartledge discusses the argument over the existence of the temple to Ares at Acharnae and the reasons he believes it existed.

  • Cartledge spends plenty of time describing and interpreting the monument on which the Oath appears, showing how it was intended to steal Spartan glory on the victory at Plataea. He also looks at other monuments commemorating battle victories so the listener can compare and contrast them.

  • He also spends time going over additional items that were part of the fight for commemorative memory, including epigrams, elegies, and even household items.

  • There are additional videos posted by the Hellenic Society that look interesting. Expect another post or two on a few of these.

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