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The Greco Persian Wars Essay

1470 words - 6 pages

If history has taught us anything about the past it is that the views of the past are for the most part negligible to change which is why it is possible to find a variety of interpretations and explanations for one single event. No truer claim can be made about the Greco-Persian War of 5th century BC as an examination of Paul Cartledge and Peter Green’s work as influential writers in comparisons to other historians of this field can yield several points of interests where there has been coherence but also conflict due to their treatment of ancient sources. More importantly is that by comparing Cartledge and Green’s work it is possible to see how representative their work is of the academic ...view middle of the document...

Green adds on to this calling Herodotus’ The Histories at most a ‘semi-rationalised fantasy’. Cartledge and Green are highly representative of other historians in their use of the same sources to explore the Persian Wars but they are strongly speculative of the degree that the sources truly depict the past.
Cartledge poses great criticism of Herodotus as he claims him to be bias in his work and flawed in history making by personalising his views on Sparta which led to a one-sided approach. This attitude has be attributed to many others primary sources relating to the wars including the ‘Oath of Plataea’, a marble stele inscription found in Athens which supposedly marked as a dedication to an oath sworn prior to the Battle of Plataea. Cartledge denounces its authenticity and rather sees the stele as a product of Athenian propaganda that was used as a religious offering due to its discovery near a religious shrine. Green is more accepting of the oath but casts doubt into where the oath was actually administered. The ancient Greek historian, Ephorus believes it was at the Isthmus but Green argues that this was unlikely considering Pausanias and Aristeides haven’t met at this point to make the oath. Lycurgus of Sparta suggested that the oath was made at Plataea but Green argues that this point would be too dangerously late considering their proximity to the Persian army. Green’s personal opinion is that the first meeting between Pausanias and Aristeides at Eleusis seems to be the most logical location of where the oath was made. On the topic of the Oath of Plataea Cartledge and Green are divided as representatives of scholarly opinions as Cartledge rejects its existence and Green while agreeing that it could exist provides his own proposal of where the oath occurred.
Many of Cartledge’s criticism of Herodotus are valid as they are evident weaknesses in his work but other historians have been exploit these weaknesses by addressing how the context of these biases may in fact be informative by letting the reading understand the psyche of the people involved in the war. While Cartledge see the symbolic meaning of Thermopylae as constructs of Herodotus’ exaggeration and embellishment in order to ‘preserve the fame of important and remarkable achievements produced by both Greeks and non-Greeks’ other historian Green included argue that perhaps if the battle itself did not contain the significants that it did than it would have not led up to the climax at the battle of Salamis and Plataea. The divide between Cartledge and Green’s work stands out boldly when the authors interpret symbolic imagery behind the sources they use which stipulates that they their works are not necessarily representative of each other completely.
The immortals that were mentioned by Herodotus employed in the Battle of Thermopylae were often depicted as elite heavy infantry that served as counterparts to the Spartans but modern interpretations have been divided on...

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