June 4, 2013, by Alan Sommerstein
Paradoxical, or maybe not
In which classical Greek drama will you find these passages in praise of warlike achievements?
1. “Now, Spartans, do you not remember when Pericleidas the Spartan once came here to Athens and sat at our altars supplicating the Athenians – deathly pale in his scarlet cloak – begging for an army? You were hard pressed then by the Messenians, and also at the same time by the god Poseidon and his earthquake; and Cimon went with four thousand infantry, and saved Sparta.”
2. “Do you not remember how the Spartans, at a time when you Athenians all had to dress like slaves, came in arms and killed many of the comrades and allies of the tyrant Hippias, men from Thessaly and elsewhere? On that day they alone helped you to expel him; they liberated you, and instead of the slave’s smock they clothed your people in a warm cloak once again.”
3. “O Memory, send thy daughter the Muse, who knows about us Spartans and about the Athenians, that time when at Artemisium they assaulted those ships, fighting like gods, and defeated the Persians; while we [at Thermopylae] followed King Leonidas, whetting our teeth like wild boars, with foam running around our cheeks and sweat pouring down our legs – for the enemy were as many as the sands on the shore.”