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"Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World"
#31
I do not have a good command of the sources, but I would listen to Jona very carefully on this subject. We know the ancient historians had a very different standard than we do on veracity of material - the whole idea of history was being invented by them as they worked; and different writers had differing ideas. All of them had no hesitation in making up long speeches and putting these in the mouths of the subjects of their writings, and we know perfectly well there were no recording devices, nor was there shorthand, nor was there any great likelihood that a pre-battle speech was memorized by the audience. In fact, it has been pointed out that the typical pre-battle speech could only have been heard by a few thousand men at the very best of circumstances, and there is no way that armies of 20,000 or more could have actually been motivated by one. (unless it was written down in many copies and distributed throughout the army beforehand, to be read prior to battle - and we have no evidence at all for any such procedure in the classical age, even if Napoleon did this.) These speeches are a fiction, devised by the author, and must have the author's biases in the text. The idea of a wholly objective scientist is suspect by modern standards, and the idea of a wholly objective historian is fundamentally impossible.

By the by, modern historians do occasionally engage in deliberate fraud, as well as having biases that affect their work. The best case of fraud is David Irving - a well known military historian of WW II, but also one who denied the Holocaust, and was tried and found guilty of fraud relating to this denial in a British court of law.
Felix Wang
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#32
I am not at all suggesting that the quality of the work is the reason for it's survival, far from it. Alot can happen in 2000 years. Someone might dedicate their life to record important events, only to have some less informed descendant use the old paper to start fires in his hearth. I'm sure the monks would have copied Livy in entirety if they had the chance. It might still be out there somewhere! Perhaps written in Arabic in some remote cave in Spain.

My point is, it's really a simple matter to record what to you appears to be common knowledge. I really could write a passable WWII history. I have read the entirety of Herodotus' work, and I get the feeling that he tries hard to separate fact from fiction. He warns the reader when he is unsure. He does make clear and obvious mistakes, but only in the smaller details like numbers and dates, not for major plot points. For someone in our time to say that the whole thing probably didn't happen, is really an accusation of fraud. That seems to me the kind of thing you need evidence for. Everyone in Herodotus time probably knew the story. Who would he hope to fool?
Rich Marinaccio
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#33
Quote:If for some catastrophic reason my history is the only surviving record 2000 years on, I would be confident that the real important stuff would be accurate.

What I mean by this statement was that the survival of my account over all the others would have to be by random chance alone! :lol: My confidence in it only comes from the fact that I know that I wrote it myself to the best of my ability. Not by it's survival. Smile
Rich Marinaccio
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#34
The archaological evidence supports the last stand story. People are still discovering arrow heads and tourists got into trouble for trying to get a "lucky find" as souvenir. The "Persian arrows obscurring the sun" are still found.
The stores in the Archeological Meuseum in Athens are still full of uncataloged material from the area. Plus more staf found in in 1960 is still locked in Lamia Archeological Meuseum
The place was used to stop invaders in 480 B.C. 279 B.C. 191 B.C 1204 A.D. 1232 A.D. It was crossed in 2 columns from both passes by the Turks in
1462 A.D. It succesfully aided stopping a turkic incursion 1866 A.D. and it was overrun by the Leibstandarte in April 1941 again from Kallidromo capturing 80% of BEF heavy weapons with their crews.
If you want to fight on a strong point blocking the root to south Greece, this IS the place.
Leonidas can be accused for poor reconaisance or poor estimation of the threat but to dny that he fought is absurd!
Kind regards
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#35
Quote:Leonidas can be accused for poor reconaisance or poor estimation of the threat but to dny that he fought is absurd!
Kind regards

Nobody is saying that the battle didn't happen, but what really happened was that as Xerxes army approached, Leonidas and his Spartans ran screaming like little girls into the gulf of Malis, where their heavy armor caused them to promptly drown. :lol: The annoyed Thespians then decided to walk home.
Rich Marinaccio
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#36
Quote:The place was used to stop invaders in 480 B.C. 279 B.C. 191 B.C 1204 A.D. 1232 A.D.


Don't forget 352/1 BC The Athenians blocked Phillip from advancing south after his victory over Onomarchus.
Paul Klos

\'One day when I fly with my hands -
up down the sky,
like a bird\'
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#37
Quote:Leonidas can be accused for poor reconnaissance or poor estimation of the threat but to deny that he fought is absurd!
I think that nobody has ever said so. It is based on what I call "the diary source" behind Herodotus. It is independently confirmed by Diodorus=Ephorus.

The point at issue in this thread is: how reliable is Hdt.7.220ff? I think we all agree that it is not based on the Diary; Rich Marinaccio suggests that after that, we have a source from "the other site", e.g. Demaratus, which I doubt. Rich takes the gnomê in 7.220 as relating to the return of the Greeks only; I think the entire last part book 7 is meant. I think Rich's position can be defended, although I note that in 2.99, gnomê introduces a substantial part, not a brief section.
Quote:He does make clear and obvious mistakes, but only in the smaller details like numbers and dates, not for major plot points.
I beg to differ. The Babylonian logos is one big fake, and this is a major error; and although Herodotus does not claim to have been in Babylon, he strongly suggests it. He is, like it or not, deliberately misleading.

At this point, there's no room for debate; there are hundreds of thousands of cuneiform tablets, which contain the equivalent of tens of thousands of A4-pages of information. (120,000 tablets more are waiting for decipherment in the British Museum alone.) Babylon has been excavated. We know so much about Babylon, and believe me: Herodotus was never there. (See Brill's Companion to Herodotus for literature, or Boiy, Achaemenid Babylon, 2004)
Quote:For someone in our time to say that the whole thing probably didn't happen, is really an accusation of fraud.
But that's not what I am saying. I am saying that we do not know why Leonidas stayed at Thermopylae, because Herodotus presents not facts, but a hypothesis. And I point at the uncontested fact that Leonidas was not there to sacrifice himself, as Herodotus says, but as an advance-guard waiting for reinforcements. I think it is possible, probably even likely, that Leonidas was retreating but cut off before he could make progress.

An accusation of fraud? No, I believe I am just taking the Greeks as they are, and not demanding them to write like we. To us, there is a difference between fiction and non-fiction, and if a historian includes non-fiction, we call it fraud. But this is unGreek.

The relevant distinction is between mythos, plasma, and historia. The standard examples of myth are the stories of the Titans, the Gorgon, or Hecabe turning into a dog. They are false (pseude) and are not true because they can not be true.

Historia is the presentation (ekthesis) of things that are true because they must be true, and may actually have happened. An example is a philosophical discourse, because one has to investigate (historein).

Platonic dialogs and Homeric epes belong to the third category, plasma: things that are true, may or may not have happened, but in any case resemble things that have happened.

If Herodotus must be placed in one of these categories, it is the last. He includes entirely fictitious dialogs and speculates. He had a truth to tell about greatness in defeat, but he did not know all the facts; so he included a speculation, and marked it as gnomê. There is nothing strange about this. Cf. Plato's Atlantis, which illustrates a deep truth, may or may not have happened, and does not contain things that can not have happened.

Of course Herodotus and especially Thucydides set a new standard. After them, the study of the past was no longer plasma, but historia. But the Histories are not yet historia, and must not be regarded as such.

To return to the original question: I try to take Herodotus serious as a Greek author that must be studied in a Greek context, and I refuse to pin him down on the dichotomy of fiction/non-fiction. Applying our modern model on Herodotus, is killing him in Procrustes' bed. I also think it is my historian's duty to try to find the facts behind Herodotus' story. Analysing him as the author of plasma has nothing to do with an accusation of fraud.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#38
mop up ???!!! retreat!!!???

The entire emperial Persian army was delayed for 7 days .No mop up there and spartans don't "retreat" or retreat. Dying in battle was what they lived for.Their self purpose in life. Herodotus & other sources are one thing to be commented on but we know for a fact that it was no mop up & no retreat.
Themistoklis papadopoulos
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#39
Quote:The entire emperial Persian army was delayed for 7 days .No mop up there
The first four of these don't count, because that break was necessary to synchronize the action with Artemisium, see Diary (absolute dating is contested, but the relative sequence of events is established).
Quote:and spartans don't "retreat" or retreat.
The are many Spartan retreats, known from different authors, and there was no disgrace. Examples: Cleomenes in his war against Argos, Dorieus returning from Cinyps, Pausanias ordering a retreat to the mountains in the prelude to Plataea (contested by a commander), Agis being forced by his own men to retreat in the prelude to Mantinea. Leonidas could have ordered a retreat, no problem.
Quote:Dying in battle was what they lived for.Their self purpose in life.
I think that this is exaggerated. The Spartans honored those who died in battle, but did not seek death. If that were true, Spartan's foreign policy would have been a lot more aggresive. The truth, paradoxical perhaps but logical, is that Sparta tried to evade war; it's foreign policy was more peace-loving than Athens, which in the fifth century can be seen as one of the most aggresive city-states. The Spartan government hesitated to declare war in 431 until it was forced to see that Athens was becoming too powerful after its alliance to Corcyra, which would not have occured if Corinth had not created a lot of problems.[/url]
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#40
Still the "mop up" expression used is just demeaning to say the least.In WWII The greek defenders in Epirus dying to hold back the germans werent "mopped" up when the germans won.You mop up trash not heroes.
Themistoklis papadopoulos
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#41
Quote:You mop up trash not heroes.
It is possible, perhaps even likely, that I have abused the English language (I am Dutch), but as far as I know, the expression "mopping up operation" is pretty common (35,800 Google hits). I agree that it is not a nice expression.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#42
B.T.W., here are some photos of Thermopylae. I like the site. And here's the text of an earlier posting by Stefanos (Hoplite14gr):
Quote:Honor to those who dedicated their life guarding Thermopylae!
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/hoplite14 ... pg&.src=ph
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/hoplite14 ... 81ere2.jpg
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#43
I see what you are saying Jona, your point of view makes sense to me. I just think that ancient sources are often discounted without the proper diligance, and often replaced by equally unreliable if not rediculous estimates. History has an absolute truth buried somewhere, yet our understanding of it continues to change. People can't even agree on current events, how can history be accurate? If some aspect of an ancient story is plausible, and there are no other surviving sources of the event, then it should be *hard work* to debunk the story. It shouldn't just happen because the author reported hearsay elsewhere in his work. I think that, until better information is revealed, it's ok for mankind to be temporarily deceived. You know we must be heavily deceived anyway! It wouldn't surprise me a bit if 45% of known history never happened!

Right after I read Herodotus and quite enjoying it, I came across many drastically lower estimates for the numbers in Xerxes army, and I thought "why?" We discussed it here:

http://www.romanarmy.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4285

It was waay too much fun!
Rich Marinaccio
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#44
Quote:
Quote:The place was used to stop invaders in 480 B.C. 279 B.C. 191 B.C 1204 A.D. 1232 A.D.


Don't forget 352/1 BC The Athenians blocked Phillip from advancing south after his victory over Onomarchus.

Thanks for reminding me Paul.
The Athenians had proved superiority of hoplite over archer in Marathon.
The place was disadvantageous for the Persians to exploit their numbers.
After "stampeding" over the Medians and the Kissians in day one, Leonidas felt that the place was defensible. He probably urged the allies to resist even Ydarnes while still the narrow of the Annopea but they thought that discretion was the better part of valor and the plan collapsed
Loosing confidence decides wars. Xerxes still had a strong fleet after Salamis but he also thought discretion was the better part of valor.
Platea proved that archers and cavalry were not up to the task of fighting hoplites or that the Persian generals were not able to use their troops good effect.
Sonme American member decribed Thermopylae as a type of "Greek Alamo" and I think there is much truth in their assertion.

Kind regards
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#45
Yes,I believe so,too. Also as much myth. Popular knowledge of
both events is often misunderstood,depending on whose version
you read.
Andy Booker

Gaivs Antonivs Satvrninvs

Andronikos of Athens
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