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What Constitutes A Spartan In Steven Pressfields' "Gates Of Fire"

1696 words - 7 pages

Steven Pressfields: Gates of fire is based on a true story of how three hundred courageous warrior Spartans led by their king Leonidas and 700 Thespaian allies held off an army of over one million Persian infantrymen on a narrow pass in Thermopylae Greece in 480 B.C. for seven days. The Spartan Warriors were highly disciplined, physically and mentally tough soldiers that were dedicated to their country and way of life. The three hundred Spartan’s left home one day leaving their families behind, on a suicide mission to buy time for their countrymen to organize forces. Their sacrifice was unparalleled and their dedication and battle skill struck fear in the hearts and minds of their enemy.
What constitutes a Spartan? According to Steven Pressfield in his book gates of fire a Spartan is synonymous with the term warrior. The Spartan warriors as depict in this novel were true men. Audacious, fearless warriors, dedicated to the safety of their families and the Spartan way of life. Spartan Soldiers were born to die for family and country. What made these soldiers different from all the rest in the world was not only there unsurpassed skill but their loyalty to their country, family and peers. Leonidas states while briefing the eighty remaining Spartans on the seventh day of battle: why men fight, “forget country. Forget King. Forget wife and children and freedom. Forget every concept, however noble, that you may imagine you fight here today. Act for this alone: for the man who stands at your shoulder” (Pressfield, S. 1998). That statement is insight on how the Spartans way of life was established based on their values and loyalty to comrades at arms. These warriors were the elite of Greece; as valor was shown on the pass of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. no Army has ever came close to emulate their success.

Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire is set in the fifth century B.C. in Greece. The story evolves around the famous battle of Thermopylae where three hundred Spartan warrior peers, knights and freedmen fought against tens of thousands of enemy Persians that wished to concur all of Greece. Pressfield creates a fictional story around one man, a squire named Xeones who survives the battle and is captured by the Persians and made into a protagonist and scribe to relay to the royal Persian historian Gorbartes.
Xeones was a young boy of ten years that lived in Astakiots, a small Greek polis. His parents were prosperous farmers and his closest friend was his cousin Diomache and wise elderly slave Bruxieus. The opening battle in the book was the raiding of Astakiots by their alleged allies Pleuron, Aetolians and Kalydon. Astakiots was completely destroyed as a result of the conflict. Xeones and Diomache happen to be at the local market at the time and later found out that Xeones parents were killed. Xeones undying vengeance to destroy the invaders drove him to find a home and a place to belong. Together the three of them fled to the mountains for they...

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