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Spartans and their laconic phrases


From the Wikipedia: A "Laconic phrase" is a very short or terse statement, named after Laconia, an area of modern and ancient Greece. Laconians focused less on the development of education, arts, and literature. Some view this as having contributed to the Laconian characteristically blunt speech.

The Spartans were especially famous for their dry wit, which we now know as "laconic humour" after the region and its people. This can be contrasted with the "Attic salt" or "Attic wit", the refined, poignant, delicate humour of Sparta's rival Athens. In modern parlance, "laconic" is used to describe speech and writing which uses few words and is terse and concise. One famous example comes from the time of the invasion of Philip II of Macedon. With key Greek city-states in submission, he turned his attention to Sparta and sent a message: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." The Spartans sent back a one word reply: "If". Subsequently, both Philip and Alexander would avoid Sparta entirely.

I am reading lately a lot of Ancient History and I could not enjoy it more... As I'm taking three weeks of vacation and it seems I will have to cancel my trip to Denmark due to health problems on a close member of my family, I guess I'll end up August having read 3-4 more books on the subject.

I am focusing these days on the Greece 500-400BC period, a time where the Greco-Persian Wars and the Peloponesian Wars took place. I'm combining historical facts and fictional books. The last book I have read on the subject, Gates of Fire from Steven Pressfield is clearly a fictional one but very accurate with the facts, nonetheless. Pressfield writes about the famous last stand that 300 spartans and a thousand allies took against all the persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae.

96348-83180.jpgAs always, the book blows away the film, and so this case is no different (300, a 2007 film based on the comic and directed by Zack Snyder, is all about aesthetics and has a stupid script to say the least). Words are stronger than a thousand images, and the novel describes perfectly how terrible this battle probably was.

Now I am reading History of the Peloponnesian War, by the first historian of our time, Thucydides the athenian. And the next one will probably be Tides of War, from Steven Pressfield again. Have a nice summer!

Comments Spartans and their laconic phrases

As a classics student, I must bring one thing to your attention: The father of modern history is usually said to be Herodotus of Halicarnasus (Gk. Ἡρόδοτος Ἁλικαρνᾱσσεύς). Otherwise, best blog post to stumble across while looking up the original Greek form of "we will fight in the shade"
Aidan Aidan 23/03/2009 at 08:59
"So much the better, we'll fight in the shade." Great quote.
I also like, "Molon labe."
When Leonidas was in charge of guarding the narrow mountain pass at Thermopylae with just 7,000 Greeks in order to delay the invading Persian army, Xerxes offered to spare his men if they gave up their arms. Leonidas replied "Molon labe" (Greek: ????? ????), which translates to "Come and take them".[15] It was adopted as the motto of the Greek 1st Army Corps.
My wife, a classisist, a librarian, and a greek, likes to point out Liconia, their homeland, no longer exists, so... it didn't work out too well for them in the long run.
jonathan jonathan 03/03/2016 at 16:54
@jonathan, what do you mean that lakonia (???????) doesn't exist? It is still a region of Greece, covering the same area like the ancient one. We use the same official name to refer to this are. So after 2500 years I think it is a success that is still Greek.
Theodoros Theodoros 12/08/2017 at 23:29

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