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Interpreting Herodotus$
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Thomas Harrison and Elizabeth Irwin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803614.001.0001

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Herodotusʼ Allusions to the Sparta of his Day

Herodotusʼ Allusions to the Sparta of his Day

Chapter:
(p.243) 11 Herodotusʼ Allusions to the Sparta of his Day
Source:
Interpreting Herodotus
Author(s):

Wolfgang Blösel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198803614.003.0011

When Herodotus wrote his Histories during the Archidamian War, the Spartans were widely successful with their propaganda of ‘Freedom for all Hellenes’ against the Athenian imperialism. The aim of this paper is to show that in his stories Herodotus blamed not only the Athenians for their hybris towards the Greeks, but even-handedly the Spartans for their anxiety, hesitancy, parochialism, and, as a consequence of all that, double-dealing in foreign affairs. Spartan selfishness is exemplified in his stories about single Spartan kings as well as the Spartans as collective actor. Especially their behaviour towards the Plataeans, Corinthians, Tegeans, Argives, and Ionians, as Herodotus depicts it for the years before and during the Persian Wars, is astonishingly similar to their conduct during the Pentecontaetia and the Archidamian War. So Herodotus might have intended to warn the Spartans’ actual and potential allies not to put much trust in them.

Keywords:   Herodotus, Sparta, double-dealing, Athens, Imperialism, Pentecontaetia, Thucydides, intertextuality

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