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Old November 17th, 2012, 02:37 PM   #51
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Ark, I'm a little confused. The quote was by Okamido and my icon is a tetradrachm and his icon is, I believe, pottery.


Syl,

So you're arguing that the over-riding factor for not sending more troops was the futility of the attempt to fight at Thermopylae? That defeat there was inevitable and that throwing Sparta's whole weight behind the campaign was futile? I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to find out your stance exactly.

I happen, as a relatively uneducated air-chair historian, tend to think that the overriding factor was in fact the Carneia and the Olympics.

Why would Sparta send a unit with a king when they could have sent a polemarch if the battle was so futile?

Why did Leonidas wish to go or why was he dispatched?

If Sparta wasn't concerned about fighting Persia, they never would have sent to ask for help from Gelon and would not have dispatched Euanetus to do battle.

If your view is that the battle of Therm was seen as futile then I have to make the conclusion that Sparta thought that fighting Persia altogether was futile... and I don't know if I can get to that point. I certainly don't want* to.
You might have fooled me...
If you are not trying to put words in my mouth, then exactly who said that [sic] Sparta wasn't concerned about fighting Persia?

The Carneia, Olympics and other religious & superstitious factors were not obstacle for the Spartans & co. to stop the Persians & allies at the Isthmus.

That said, one can only describe the facts; anything about the psyche of Leonidas I and other Spartan leaders could be just the matter of educated guesses.

Given the ostensible Persian superiority, it's clear that the Hellenic strategy depended from the beginning in stopping the Persian advance at land and destroying the Persian fleet at sea; the later was indispensable for keeping any significant Persian armed forces beyond the Hellespont.

The choice of the location for stopping the Persian army at land depended both on the local topography and the loyalty of the local population.
According to Herodotos Tempe was the first option; once it was discarded; the remaining options were fundamentally Thermopylae (naturally favored by Athens and other poleis of central Greece) and the Isthmus of Korinthos.

Quote:
The Greek forces at Thermopylae, when the Persian army drew near to the entrance of the pass, were seized with fear; and a council was held to consider about a retreat.
It was the wish of the Peloponnesians generally that the army should fall back upon the Peloponnese, and there guard the Isthmus.
But Leonidas, who saw with what indignation the Phocians and Locrians heard of this plan, gave his voice for remaining where they were, while they sent envoys to the several cities to ask for help, since they were too few to make a stand against an army like that of the Medes.
(Herodotos, Polymnia, CCVII)

So according to our main available relevant source, its clear who was responsible for not returning to the objectively safest option.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 02:38 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by President Camacho View Post
Ark, I'm a little confused. The quote was by Okamido and my icon is a tetradrachm and his icon is, I believe, pottery.


Syl,

So you're arguing that the over-riding factor for not sending more troops was the futility of the attempt to fight at Thermopylae? That defeat there was inevitable and that throwing Sparta's whole weight behind the campaign was futile? I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to find out your stance exactly.

I happen, as a relatively uneducated air-chair historian, tend to think that the overriding factor was in fact the Carneia and the Olympics.

Why would Sparta send a unit with a king when they could have sent a polemarch if the battle was so futile?

Why did Leonidas wish to go or why was he dispatched?

If Sparta wasn't concerned about fighting Persia, they never would have sent to ask for help from Gelon and would not have dispatched Euanetus to do battle.

If your view is that the battle of Therm was seen as futile then I have to make the conclusion that Sparta thought that fighting Persia altogether was futile... and I don't know if I can get to that point. I certainly don't want* to.
PC:
You could have fooled me...
If you are not trying to put words in my mouth, then exactly who said that [sic] "Sparta wasn't concerned about fighting Persia"???

The Carneia, Olympics and other religious & superstitious factors were not obstacle for the Spartans & co. to stop the Persians & allies at the Isthmus.

That said, one can only describe the facts; anything about the psyche of Leonidas I and other Spartan leaders could be just the matter of educated guesses.

Given the ostensible Persian superiority, it's clear that the wise Hellenic strategy depended from the beginning on stopping the Persian advance at land and destroying the Persian fleet at sea; the later was indispensable for keeping any significant Persian armed forces beyond the Hellespont.

The choice of the location for stopping the Persian army at land depended both on the local topography and the loyalty of the local population.
According to Herodotos Tempe was the first option; once it was discarded; the remaining options were fundamentally Thermopylae (naturally favored by Athens and other poleis of central Greece) and the Isthmus of Korinthos.

Quote:
The Greek forces at Thermopylae, when the Persian army drew near to the entrance of the pass, were seized with fear; and a council was held to consider about a retreat.
It was the wish of the Peloponnesians generally that the army should fall back upon the Peloponnese, and there guard the Isthmus.
But Leonidas, who saw with what indignation the Phocians and Locrians heard of this plan, gave his voice for remaining where they were, while they sent envoys to the several cities to ask for help, since they were too few to make a stand against an army like that of the Medes.
(Herodotos, Polymnia, CCVII)

So according to our main available relevant source, its clear who was responsible for not returning to the objectively safest option.

Last edited by sylla1; November 17th, 2012 at 02:46 PM.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 02:56 PM   #53
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I'd rather not get into a debate about military competence/incompetence of Leonidas, because im talking about the bigger picture of Greek strategy, rather than just him. Although the Greeks ended up losing that particular battle, and although it had no decisive impact on the war, it was not a completely futile effort.

I find that the premise of the plan was correct. The Persians were advancing from the north and were about to break out into the Boeotian plains. The time to stop to slow down the momentum and hold them for an amount of time was presented at the hot gates of Thermopylae.

If the Persians could not break through this pass in a frontal assault, then they had three options; attempt to bribe Leonidas, attempt to outflank the position either through a trail or through the sea, starve/retreat.

Leonidas made one mistake, in that he did not send enough troops to protect the trail, nor spare any Spartans from the frontlines to do this, nor did he take into consideration anything other than light troops would be able to attempt this pass.. If the the trail was protected better or if there was not any dissillusioned Greeks open to the bribery and insidious, yet highly effective methids of Persian espionage, then there is no evidence I can think of that the Persians would have been able to break through through those Hot gates, before their food supplies dwindled to worrying levels/morale dropped.

However, I will make it clear now, that im impressed with manner in which Xerxes broke through the defenses in a short amount of time, and at the point of time he occupied and raised Athens, he was in control of everything, and was presented with two opportunities to take before the tide was turned at Salamis, which were rejected.





If I understood, I wouldn't be asking. You've stated that you thought it was a waste, you've stated that the Isthmus should have been defended, but you have not stated your reasons for this. I dont think a case of "if you dont know the answer, though". Maybe you can educate those who do not know as much, by giving the relevant details?





Not really.



What type of evidence would you like? I will try and find the relevant details, tomorrow, and then ill post them in this thread.

I would also like to ask the same of you, for example why you stated in another post above this one that The Spartans did not lend support because they sought it as futile. The historical concensus is that the Carneia was a estival that was not to be interrupted with warfare, and they obeyed the laws of their festivals and missed the battle of Marathon. They were certainly not cowards, so why, especially given their strict laws?
The premise of the plan was incorrect (as the Spartan government rightly perceived) because it was simply impossible to stop the Persians there on the long runs.
As it has been pointed out before, the Ephialtes tale is presumably just an exemplary fable; there was no way the Persians and their Hellenic allies wouldn't have discovered any additional pass.

On the reasons for not sending additional Peloponnesian reinforcements, please check out the primary source quotation of my last previous post.

Hint: in spite of the silence of the presumably mostly Athenocentric sources of Herodotos, it's clear that the Isthmian Wall that stopped the powerful Persian/Hellenic invader army was not erected overnight.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 04:56 AM   #54

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Originally Posted by sylla1 View Post
The premise of the plan was incorrect (as the Spartan government rightly perceived) because it was simply impossible to stop the Persians there on the long runs.
As it has been pointed out before, the Ephialtes tale is presumably just an exemplary fable; there was no way the Persians and their Hellenic allies wouldn't have discovered any additional pass.

On the reasons for not sending additional Peloponnesian reinforcements, please check out the primary source quotation of my last previous post.

Hint: in spite of the silence of the presumably mostly Athenocentric sources of Herodotos, it's clear that the Isthmian Wall that stopped the powerful Persian/Hellenic invader army was not erected overnight.
We'll just have to agree to disagree for the time being. I get the drift of what you are tryng to say, but I don't agree completely.

That being said, im aware that in a lot of aspects, Herodatus exaggerates or may even create myths, but the core of what ideals the Greeks represented is correct, imo.

As for the Isthmus wall. Yes, it was well defended, But plans were laid out and argued to deal with that. One of them was to use bribery, intimidation and treachery tactics to force dispute and insurrection from those behind the walls. A plan that had worked in the Ionian wars, and may have worked here, given the fragile temperement of the City states. Xerxes however, dismissed this plan and opted to attack Salamis, which resulted in his fleet being wrecked, and his supply lines slightly compromised.

I will come back to this thread at a later date
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Old November 18th, 2012, 05:14 AM   #55

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Originally Posted by okamido View Post
It's funny how money seemed to change the Oracle's view on things.

Corruption at Delphi (sigh) history just keeps getting harder.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 08:09 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by Mangekyou View Post
We'll just have to agree to disagree for the time being. I get the drift of what you are tryng to say, but I don't agree completely.

That being said, im aware that in a lot of aspects, Herodatus exaggerates or may even create myths, but the core of what ideals the Greeks represented is correct, imo.

As for the Isthmus wall. Yes, it was well defended, But plans were laid out and argued to deal with that. One of them was to use bribery, intimidation and treachery tactics to force dispute and insurrection from those behind the walls. A plan that had worked in the Ionian wars, and may have worked here, given the fragile temperement of the City states. Xerxes however, dismissed this plan and opted to attack Salamis, which resulted in his fleet being wrecked, and his supply lines slightly compromised.

I will come back to this thread at a later date
Whenever you may come back facts will continue being facts.
And as the textual evidence shows, the facts couldn't be any clearer here.

As a rule of thumb, to the last man last stands make exemplary tales but are bad for any war business, because they are still total defeats.

If free Hellas won this war, that was due to Salamis, Plataiai & Mykale , and certainly in spite of Thermopylae.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 09:01 AM   #57

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Originally Posted by sylla1 View Post
As it has been pointed out before, the Ephialtes tale is presumably just an exemplary fable;
Hard facts for this assumption would be greatly appreciated.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 09:13 AM   #58

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We know that Kleomenes and Demaratos were both "bribable", and both rich.
Exceedingly wealthy. In fact, if we believe the ancient sources, the Sartan kings were the wealthiest men in Hellas. While anything is possible, I believe that they were less bribable from gold, than they would be seduced by an increase in personal power, which, as one of the longest reigning kings in Spartan history, seemed to be the driving force between Kleomenes' action.
Quote:
I suspect he heard about Persian gold,
Why?

Quote:
I can not understand their mentality, because trying to understand the mentality of not too educated men who did not have money as an exchange unit is hard. (Even forgetting the military part of it. If they really did not use money, it alone would be enough to make the society very different). I think that for such a society, the smell of gold would be irresistible.
Spartan men on average, were more educated than the average of any other man in Hellas. Every single one of them had a basic education which was not the case in other poleis. In fact, if it wasn't a capable education, why would other prominent Greeks send their sons to Sparta in order to attend the agoge?

As it came to money/ gold, it is seemingly obvious that many Spartiates were fairly wealthy so unless they were about to fall off of the rolls, or were mothax attempting upward social mobility (such as Gyllipus and Lysander), there wasn't some great impetus to go on the take.

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Among many good deeds of Kleomenes was crushing Argos, which held a very strong pro-Persian position. Although the way he did it was quite cruel.
Cruelty is subjective, all that matters in victory.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 08:34 PM   #59
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Hard facts for this assumption would be greatly appreciated.
If you are asking for negative evidence that Ephialtes did never exist, I'm afraid it's unlikely it may exist.

AFAIK it is just an educated opinion of some modern author (honestly I can't remember by now exactly who)

IMHO such analysis makes sense given the obvious chauvinistic and exemplary nature of the narrative of Herodotos on this war.

Regarding Herodotos himself, the relevant issue is that he was actually aware of several versions on purported Medized traitors betraying any pathway across the mountain bypassing Thermopylae:
Quote:
Besides this there is another story told, which I do not at all believe - to wit, that Onetas the son of Phanagoras, a native of Carystus, and Corydallus, a man of Anticyra, were the persons who spoke on this matter to the king, and took the Persians across the mountain.
(Polymnia, CCXIV)

Aside of Herodotos' narrative, the relevant fact here is that given the overt collaboration of myriad Hellenes with the invaders, notoriously including the Thessalians neighboring this pass, it seems unlikely than the existence of any such pathways bypassing Thermopylae would have been entirely ignored by absolutely all the pro-Persian Hellenes.

Ergo, no intervention of any purported Judas from the free Hellas side would have been required to explain the Persian knowledge on such pathways (aside of some narrative dramatism, of course)

Back the OP, had it been Ephialtes, Onetas, Corydallos or any single one of the literally thousands of Medized Hellenes, the relevant strategic point here is still that the Hellenic opponents of Leonidas were absolutely right.
It was extremely unlikely that such a powerful invading army could have been stopped at Thermopylae for any long term.
The Isthmus was a much more logical option.

Last edited by sylla1; November 18th, 2012 at 08:43 PM.
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