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Thermopylae 480BC (Great Battles of the World)
#1
Thermopylae 480BC (Great Battles of the World - Ancient Times) 7001

[size=85:169imofy]by Dimitris Belezos and Ioannis Kotoulas (illustrated by C. Giannopoulos, R. Fronimidis, M. Ginala)[/size]

Has anybody read this book?

I only came across it recently and it is a terrific read Big Grin . It makes a change from the predictable Osprey reads. The artwork is very good and often challenges conventional wisdom. OK, so there is only so much you can say about Thermopylae/ai - and this says it all (as well as inevitably touching upon Artemsium/ion), but it is still well worth having.

I'm wondering what others interested in the Spartans, and in this period and unique battle think?

I was quite intrigued by the Thespians wearing black and sporting Boiotian shields. I was under the apprehension that Boiotian shields were obsolete by this period (and only appeared as symbols on coins etc.) but here they are large as life with the half-moon of Black Aphrodite prominently displayed no less! 8) . Correct or otherwise they look really cool. I think I might have a wargames unit of black-clad Thespians at some point.

I would like to see this team turn their attention to some later Spartans - perhaps in the Peloponnesian War period or even later. Personally, I tire of Nick Sekunda's views on all of this - and he seems to dominate the Osprey stuff about Sparta. His book on The Spartan Army doesn't even mention the Royal Bodyguard (300 Hippeis) at all - so what kind of reseach is that? :roll:

Anyway, if you like Sparta and its odd occupants and are interested in the Persian Wars - buy this book - you won't be disappointed.

Cheers

H
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
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#2
Black-clad Thespians? Another 'myth' AFIK ,whose source is the black clad Thespians in the '62 movie version of Thermopylae starring Richard Egan as Leonidas..........

Anybody know another source for this? :lol: :lol:
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#3
Before you scoff why not read this book? I don't have a view one way or the other, and the various images claim to have been researched by the authors/illustrators - who presumably are Greek. Where he did this research is not clear.

Regarding the 1962 film - yes we know it was largely rubbish - enjoyable - but rubbish on almost every level - from Spartan hair length to Leonidas' age (Egan certainly not looking 60) - from shield construction (bin lids) to cloak wearing - from single rank battle array to setting bales of hay on fire ... and so on. I hope somebody finally does this battle justice and films it properly one day. The Frank Miller novel-turned-cinematic mini epic 300 was a double edged sword. Yes it was a very cool film - but more akin to Tolkien than Herodotos - and it might have determined others not to bother retreading this ground, especially since it was hotly followed by hilarious Meet The Spartans!

Michael Mann was preparing a treatment of the Thermopylai story as much as 6-7 years ago. I hear from those who read it that the battle scenes would have made Gladiator look like a picnic. Likely contenders for Leonidas were George Clooney and Bruce Willis - both apparently enamoured of the Agiad King as potential movie hero. There has also been talk about filming Stephen Pressfield's book "Gates Of Fire". I've read this and it is a fine book - but - I wonder why bother such an approach (which is viewed through a non-Spartan servant's eyes) when the actual story (following Herodotos and other ancient sources) is great as it is?

Returning to the thread subject - has anybody else actually read this book?
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
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#4
I guess not then Sad
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
Reply
#5
Quote:Black-clad Thespians? Another 'myth' AFIK ,whose source is the black clad Thespians in the '62 movie version of Thermopylae starring Richard Egan as Leonidas..........

Anybody know another source for this? :lol: :lol:

Hm, with all due respect Paullus, I dug out the DVD this weekend and Demophilis is the only Thespian featured in the film (unless I missed something) and he is (gasp) wearing a white cloak! :|

Edit: I watched the film again today (we are snowed in) there is one scene in which Demophilis is accompanied by a couple of 'Thespians', they are all wearing white chitons and cloaks.
_____________________________________________________
Mark Hayes

"The men who once dwelled beneath the crags of Mt Helicon, the broad land of Thespiae now boasts of their courage"
Philiades

"So now I meet my doom. Let me at least sell my life dearly and have a not inglorius end, after some feat of arms that shall come to the ears of generations still unborn"
Hektor, the Iliad
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#6
The Melachites (Black cloaks) seems to stem from a mention in a play by Aeschylus, this is what Nikolaos Markoulakis of the Sparta Journal has to say on the subject:


As far as their entitlement as melachites, I must confess that I never heard before this title for Thespiae’s hoplites and/or for any of the hoplites. Once again that is a tendency to stick the element of uniformity and contingency. There is no evidence whatsoever that address the Thespian’s uniform as black and/or dark cloaked, as the term melachites points out.

Let us see now where we can find it in literature. The term melachiton (?????????) which means literary the black-cloaked is mentioned at the chorus in Aeschylus’ Persians which seems to be more like an allegorical image of a ‘scared heart’ (Aesh. Pers. 115). The same kind of meaning – the scared and weak – can been seen in Eumenides, the black-robed, ??????????, and the bringers of fear and of self-destruction (Aesh. Eumenides 2.38). There is also the ?????????? ?????, the black-robe in which Admetor was dressed – as well as the Spartan Tundareos (Orestes 12.43)- for their ?????? (Alcestis 258, 425), extreme sense of sadness. It is also mentioned by Herodotus (4.102,1; 4.107.1) as ????????????, the back-cloaked, but for non of the Greek armies and hoplites but rather for the nation-tribe neighboring Scythians as they had also the same customs, who they named as such because of their black uniforms.

For me, thus, it makes more sense to call the Scythians black-cloaked rather than the Thespians. But why, regardless the literary and iconography lack of evidences many believe that the Thespians whore a black-cloak? For some believe that the Thespian army was dressed in black because they worshiped the Melainis Aphrodite, meaning ‘the dark one’ or ‘of the graves’, which was an epithet of the Goddess under which she was worshiped at Corinth (Paus. 2.2.4; ff. 8.6.2, 9.17.4; Athen. I cannot see any mentioned evidences that linked the cult with Thespiae and if indeed there was a cult of Melainis Aphrodite why it became the reason of the supposed black-cloaked Thespians and not of the Corinthians who were so well-known of their cults in honor of the Goddess? And why only the Thespians choose to wear a color so much interrelated with sadness and bad luck? I am sure they did not. It is difficult for me to imagine that only the Thespiae’s hoplites decided to bring with them bad fortune’s symbol at war.
_____________________________________________________
Mark Hayes

"The men who once dwelled beneath the crags of Mt Helicon, the broad land of Thespiae now boasts of their courage"
Philiades

"So now I meet my doom. Let me at least sell my life dearly and have a not inglorius end, after some feat of arms that shall come to the ears of generations still unborn"
Hektor, the Iliad
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#7
I have countless times written that though black cloth did exist in ancient Greece there is NOT one shred of evidence of a black clad unit any where in the Ancient Greek armies as there was NOT one "Laconian" sword.

Kind regards
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#8
To return to the O.T., I have placed the book in my wish list at Amazon, I have two books already on order and I will get around to this one eventually. I doubt if the authors have any viable evidence for the 'black cloaks' or the use of Boeotian shields at Thermoplylae, but I would not necessarily discount the entire book (especially without having read it) over this.

Not wishing to derail the thread further, but on the subject of the Boeotian shield, there is an image in the G.H. Chase book, which is from a vase/krater? painting of what appears to be a typical round aspes, but with the Boeotian style 'cut-outs' in the sides of the shield. I believe one of the members of Stefanos' group has a similar shield with a crescent moon device. Could this type of shield be what the authors are referring to? [attachment=0:3ic6idpr]<!-- ia0 Boeotian 001.jpg<!-- ia0 [/attachment:3ic6idpr]
_____________________________________________________
Mark Hayes

"The men who once dwelled beneath the crags of Mt Helicon, the broad land of Thespiae now boasts of their courage"
Philiades

"So now I meet my doom. Let me at least sell my life dearly and have a not inglorius end, after some feat of arms that shall come to the ears of generations still unborn"
Hektor, the Iliad
Reply
#9
Quote:
Paullus Scipio:2a1coyz8 Wrote:Black-clad Thespians? Another 'myth' AFIK ,whose source is the black clad Thespians in the '62 movie version of Thermopylae starring Richard Egan as Leonidas..........

Anybody know another source for this? :lol: :lol:

Hm, with all due respect Paullus, I dug out the DVD this weekend and Demophilis is the only Thespian featured in the film (unless I missed something) and he is (gasp) wearing a white cloak! :|

Edit: I watched the film again today (we are snowed in) there is one scene in which Demophilis is accompanied by a couple of 'Thespians', they are all wearing white chitons and cloaks.

Hhh..mm..mm, I confess I was relying on memory, and I have not seen the film for DECADES, but my overall impression was that the "Thespians" were basically 'black' as opposed to the Spartans in (what else?) 'red'. Now that you mention it, I do recall the white cloaks - but in contrast to a very 'blackish' overall look....was it their armour etc that was shown black? ( I did say 'black-clad' not 'black-cloaked')........

If what I suggested is right, there won't be an earlier depiction of Thespian Hoplites in 'black' prior to the Richard Egan movie - unless the costumes derived from an earlier source, hence my question.....

Here's another (movie?)image I came across for 'black-clad' Thespians....not from the Richard Egan "300 Spartans" though, I think......
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
Reply
#10
Though no complete "beotian shield" has survived, reconstructions range between plausibility and possibility.
There are 5th cent B.C. pottery items showing 2 in London 2 in Paris and one in St Petersburg showing "beotian" and "argolic" shields side by side
Now that the particular book has been translated the artistic pre-conseptions are going to influence (wrongly in my opinion) a lot of people.

The photo posted shows a dark red in my opinion and it is from a film about the Argonauts.
The only black clad were king and the evil priest -to emphasize they were the bad guys.

Kind regards
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#11
@ Paullus, The Thespian armour (In The 300 Spartans) is black leather w/ dull silver metalic plates, a sharp contrast to the white chitons and cloaks. I have seen the image you posted before and it was in fact labelled as 'Thespian hoplites', I have always been curious as to it's origin. According to Stefanos it is from a film about the Argonauts, which I have never seen.

@ Stephanos, what is the name of the film? Do you know if it is available on DVD?
_____________________________________________________
Mark Hayes

"The men who once dwelled beneath the crags of Mt Helicon, the broad land of Thespiae now boasts of their courage"
Philiades

"So now I meet my doom. Let me at least sell my life dearly and have a not inglorius end, after some feat of arms that shall come to the ears of generations still unborn"
Hektor, the Iliad
Reply
#12
Quote:Though no complete "beotian shield" has survived, reconstructions range between plausibility and possibility.
There are 5th cent B.C. pottery items showing 2 in London 2 in Paris and one in St Petersburg showing "beotian" and "argolic" shields side by side
Now that the particular book has been translated the artistic pre-conseptions are going to influence (wrongly in my opinion) a lot of people.

The photo posted shows a dark red in my opinion and it is from a film about the Argonauts.
The only black clad were king and the evil priest -to emphasize they were the bad guys.

Kind regards

Stefanos, are you familiar with the image that I posted from the Chase book?

Though it is not a photo, it appears to be drawn from the original pottery. All of the (few) images in my copy of the book are such and appear to be taken from originals, including missing fragments etc. The book originally (1902) did not contain images. The images in the modern edition were added to provide examples of shield devices mentioned in the book (I wish they had used color photos w/ museum references and for what it cost they should have).

What do you make of the odd round shield with the Boeotian style 'cut-outs' on the sides?
_____________________________________________________
Mark Hayes

"The men who once dwelled beneath the crags of Mt Helicon, the broad land of Thespiae now boasts of their courage"
Philiades

"So now I meet my doom. Let me at least sell my life dearly and have a not inglorius end, after some feat of arms that shall come to the ears of generations still unborn"
Hektor, the Iliad
Reply
#13
The items are both "red faced" Attic pottery.
Both are mid 5th century roughly after the first Peloponnesian War.
Athenians are consolidating their alliance.

The top is related with Evoia and the bottom with Thessaly.
The shield appears very much with horsemen who sometimes carry it strapped on their back in "black faced" pottery

Check the cavalry threads. Horsemen did carry shields.
I will try a reconstruction and tell you. So far no "beotian" survived complete

Kind regards
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#14
Yes, I am interested in this hybrid shield as well. Too circular to be a fully Boiotian shield and yet nevertheless it has the cut-outs. You see it often enough on pottery so it does seem plausible. But what were these cut-outs for? Surely they might have weakened the whole shield that must have gained some of its strength from its complete circular concave nature? Perhaps they allowed the spear to project through in close order advances? It is a baffling business...
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
Reply
#15
Quote:Yes, I am interested in this hybrid shield as well. Too circular to be a fully Boiotian shield and yet nevertheless it has the cut-outs. You see it often enough on pottery so it does seem plausible. But what were these cut-outs for? Surely they might have weakened the whole shield that must have gained some of its strength from its complete circular concave nature? Perhaps they allowed the spear to project through in close order advances? It is a baffling business...

The circular (Boiotian) shield has plagued my curiosity for some time now, some seem to believe that they are simply an artistic anomally. I believe the repeated appearance in pottery would suggest otherwise.
_____________________________________________________
Mark Hayes

"The men who once dwelled beneath the crags of Mt Helicon, the broad land of Thespiae now boasts of their courage"
Philiades

"So now I meet my doom. Let me at least sell my life dearly and have a not inglorius end, after some feat of arms that shall come to the ears of generations still unborn"
Hektor, the Iliad
Reply


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