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The last stand at Thermopylae made the Spartans legends in their own time, famous for their toughness, stoicism and martial prowess. They were feared for never surrendering and never running from a fight, always preferring death to dishonor. But was this reputation earned? How much of it was true versus an exaggeration that compounded over the centuries?

That’s the question that today’s guest, Myke Cole, asked himself when he set out to investigate their military history, which became his book “The Bronze Lie: Shattering the Myth of Spartan Warrior Supremacy,


Spartan history had its moments of glory, but it was also punctuated by frequent and heavy losses. It was a society dedicated to militarism not in service to Greek unity or to the Spartan state itself, but as a desperate measure intended to keep its massive population of helots (a near-slave underclass) in line. What successes there were, such as in the Peloponnesian Wars, gave Sparta only a brief period of hegemony over Greece. Today, there is no greater testament to this than the relative position of modern Sparta and its famous rival Athens.

Nevertheless, there is still plenty to appreciate about the Spartans when we look at them as real people, not as mythological figures.

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"Despite the Spartans’ Last Stand at Thermopylae, They Are Still the Most Overrated Warriors of the Ancient World" History on the Net
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