Sparta in Literature Criticism: Historical Background - Essay

W. G. Forrest (essay date 1968)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Forrest, W. G. “The Conquest of Laconia.” In A History of Sparta 950-192 B.C., pp. 28-34. London: Hutchinson & Co, 1968.

[In the following essay, Forrest chronicles the period of early expansion in Spartan power over the Peloponnesian region of Laconia from the tenth to eight centuries b.c.]

The Sparta which was founded in the tenth century was not a city like those of the rest of Greece; ‘if Sparta was deserted’, wrote Thucydides, ‘and only its temples and its ground plan left, future generations would never believe that its power had matched its reputation … without any urban unity, made up as it is of distinct villages in the old style, its...

(The entire section is 2645 words.)

Charles D. Hamilton (essay date 1979)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hamilton, Charles D. “Conclusion.” In Sparta's Bitter Victories: Politics and Diplomacy in the Corinthian War, pp. 326-29. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1979.

[In the following excerpt, Hamilton summarizes the significance of factional political rivalry in Sparta during the pre-Corinthian War period of the early fourth century b.c.]

The period from 405 to 386 opened on a note of joy and optimism, when the Spartans and their allies tore down the walls of Athens, the symbol of imperial oppression, to the music of flute playing. Many thought that that day heralded the beginning of freedom and peace for Greece, but such hopes were premature and...

(The entire section is 1391 words.)

Linda J. Piper (essay date 1986)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Piper, Linda J. “Sparta after Alexander.” In Spartan Twilight, pp. 5-23. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Aristide D. Caratzas, 1986.

[In the following essay, Piper details the period of Spartan military and political decline from 371 to 260 b.c.]

In 371 b.c., the Greek world heard with disbelief that a small Theban force had defeated a larger Spartan army at Leuctra. The Spartan military had seemed invincible for so many years that victory was almost a commonplace in Spartan foreign affairs. Yet if the other Greeks were shocked by the news, the men and women within Sparta took it in a typically calm and stoical fashion, firm in their belief that it was merely a...

(The entire section is 9913 words.)

Paul Cartledge (essay date 1987)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Cartledge, Paul. “The Spartan Empire, 404-394.” In Agesilaos and the Crisis of Sparta, pp. 347-59. London: Duckworth, 1987.

[In the following essay, Cartledge recounts the historical events associated with the pinnacle of Spartan imperialism between the defeat of Athens (404) and the outbreak of the Corinthian War (395).]

The period from 404 to 360 … has been characterized generally as ‘The decline of the Greek Polis-world’ (Bengtson 1977, 253-91) and in specifically Spartan terms as ‘The policy of the Strong Hand and End’ (Berve 1966, 173-207).1 Decline, power-politics, finis: few would cavil at this choice of categories to...

(The entire section is 7315 words.)

Charles D. Hamilton (essay date 1991)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hamilton, Charles D. “The Final Years.” In Agesilaus and the Failure of Spartan Hegemony, pp. 252-57. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, Hamilton comments on the last portion of Agesilaos's reign in the 360s and the final collapse of the Spartan empire.]

Sparta's position after the Battle of Mantineia [362] was even worse than it had been before. Exhausted by some fifteen years of war, the various Greek states decided once again to make peace. As the sources show, this was to be a Common Peace, and there is some evidence that the Great King of Persia had a hand in it.1 There was to be an end to hostilities,...

(The entire section is 2355 words.)