Sunday, May 7, 2017

Just Finished: After Thermopylae by Paul Cartledge

Just Finished: After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars by Paul Cartledge. In the Greco-Persian wars of the 480-479 B.C., we all know Thermopylae and Salamis but it was at Plataea a year later when the Persians were finally defeated and withdrew from Greece. The battle is less remembered because it was less documented but was none-the-less pivotal as the final repulse of the still dangerous Persians.

I have read many accounts of both Salamis and Thermopylae but had never read one of Plataea and looked forward to this. I would instead recommend anyone interested in the battle to suffice with the Wikipedia entry.

Cartledge spends a great deal of time on the religious aspects of Greek battle, on an investigation of the validity of various inscriptions, and a lot of detours into linguistic arcana. His writing style is discursive with a lot of detours and distractions. There is interesting information along some of these side-tracks but some of them seem as pathways to nowhere. He is a noted scholar with several books to his name so probably this is just my issue. I was looking for a military history of a battle and this is more of a cultural context of a battle. Different than what I anticipated.

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