Book Review: Sparta & War


by Stephen Hodkinson and Aaron Powell, editors

Swansea: Classical Press of Wales/Oakville, Ct.: David Brown, 2006. Pp. xxi, 309. Illus., maps, notes, index. $79.50. ISBN:1-905125-11-9

Sparta & War consists of ten essays on various aspects of war in Spartan history, society, and, of course, military practice.  Some of the essays are very arcane, often relying upon an analysis of just a few lines of literary evidence or the criticism of interpretations of those lines by ancient scholars.  Others are less specialized, dealing with Spartans as soldiers and contemporary military practice.

In order, the topics covered in the work deal with a perceived class of "official" cowards, a possible "knightly" social order, memorialization of war dead, Sparta as a military society, frontier and fortification studies, a curious aspect of military organization, Xenophon's view of why Spartans made good fighters, Spartans as mercenaries, Spartan use of treachery on campaign, and the question of why Sparta did not destroy Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War.

Although some of the essays will be of value to anyone with an interest in ancient military history, most are for the serious student of the subject.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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