Review of sources on Sparta

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  • Literary sources for Sparta
    • Xenophon
      • He was born in c. 430 BC in Attica
      • His agenda was essentially didactic (meant to teach)
      • He fought for the Spartans against a Greek coalition which included the Athenians
      • He was exiled from Athens
      • Much of his work was left incomplete
    • Diodorus
      • Greek historian born c. 100 BC and lived during the reign of Caesar and Augustus
      • He does not always quote his sources
      • His is the only continuous historical source that has survived
      • Gives us an insight into sources that have been lost
    • Aristophanes
      • Greek comic playwright
      • Wrote plays for entertainment and to win competitions
      • His plays consistently opposed radical new influences in Athenian society
      • Disliked Cleon and regularly used his plays to attack his character
      • Born ca. 446 BC and was writing during and after the Peloponnesian War
      • He survived the Pelopennesian War, two Oligarchic revolutions and two democratic restoration
    • Tyrtaeus
      • Was writing c. 450 BC
      • Some sources claim that he was Spartan, however, some say he was an Athenian sent to Sparta. Either way, he spent time in Sparta
      • He wrote poetry encouraging Spartans to be brave and stay loyal during the 2nd Messenian War
      • His poetry follows the Homeric style
    • Thucydides
      • Born c. 460 BC in Alimos, South Athens
      • He was elected Strategos, a military magistrate of great importance, in 424 BC
      • He caught the plague between 430-429 BC and survived
      • He was defeated by the Spartan General Brasidas which led to his exile from Athens
      • Recites speeches that he couldn't have possibly heard first hand e.g the debate at Sparta (book 1)
      • He avoids storytelling and focuses on battle strategies
    • Plutarch
      • Born AD 46 in Boeotia, Greece
      • He displays evidence of extensive research
      • He mixed with Roman emperors such as Hadrian and Trajan
      • He was widely travelled, visiting cities such as, Sparta, Corinth and Alexandria
      • He was well-educated and studied mathematics and philosophy
      • Was writing with the purpose of entertaining Roman aristocrats
    • Herodotus
      • Born c. 484 BC in modern-day Turkey
      • He produced the first great narrative history in the ancient world
      • He was well-travelled visiting much of the Persian Empire


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