Where the spartan's gay ?

Just saw 300 (which was awesome btw) with some friends and i thought it was weird that the spartans referred to the athenians as boy lovers in a derogatory manner. I was under the impression that the spartans also engaged in homosexual relationships. My friends say that i'm wrong and that the spartans weren't gay but i'm pretty sure i'm right.

BTW sorry for this dumb post but i need to know if i'm right or wrong so i can tell my friends " I told you so."

Both Greece and Rome had alot of bi-males. Very common in their soceity.

None of the Greeks were "gay" as we use the word today. They did engage in homosexual activity (largely I suspect because the Greeks had an unusually bad attitude toward women), but the modern concept of sexual orientation simply didn't exist then. All we can do is describe behavior. Even still, Greek homosexual activity did not involve penetration--to do so would be to make the recipient effectively female to the Greek mind, something no Greek male would tolerate, so most of what is today seen as "gay sex" didn't happen. More to the point, prior to Alexander, Greek men would take Greek boys as proteges and engage in sexual activities with them, but men who did it with men were held in contempt. Alexander changed that. To the best of my knowledge, all of the above is just as true of the Spartans as it is of other Greeks.

Thanx for the info guys. I remember reading somewhere about the greeks taking in young male proteges and instructing them in the field of their expertise while engaging in sexual activities.

Was it true that the spartans only married when they were in their 30's and that on the wedding night the bride would shave her head and wear a male soldiers uniform?


They were as gay as an Ungaro spring frock.

The Greeks hated each other, they were very zenophobic, if you if you weren't from Sparta, the Spartans didn't like you, if you weren't from Athens, Athenians didn't like you; to understand the Spartans criticism of the Athenians imagine you went to New York and asked a bunch of Giants fans what they thought of Eagles fans, what would be the expected response? The Greeks zenophobia was magnitudes of scale worse.

Also, IMHO the historical errors that are supposed to riddle 300 are overblown, outside of Leonidis helmet crest being wrong (it followed the line of the shoulders) and the phantasmagorica aspect (which is supposed to show you the perspective of the Greeks, they believed anyone attacking Greece to be monstorous). The history is dead on, Zerzes did demand earth and water, the Persian ambassador did show the heads of vanquished kings, please tell me how the movie was inaccurate.

Shall we start wtih the depiction of the Spartan ephors and their role in the society? Or the fact that the Spartans had already decided to join the war before Xerxes arrived and were designated as the land commanders for the Greek alliance (at least if memory serves me right)? Or the 60 pounds of bronze body armor that they neglected to wear in the battle? Don't get me wrong, I liked the movie, but the politics, physical culture, and battle details were no more accurate than Braveheart.

Did the Persian ambassador exhibit the five heads?


Did Xerxes demand "earth and water?"


Did Leoinidis "go for a walk" with 300 friends to avoid taboo?


Did they meet up with the Thesbians and others?


Were they betrayed?


Did Leonidis and the 300 (and others) die so the others could retreat?


There's more, but arguing arcanea is inane. It's a great movie about a pivotal event in Western history. The facts are right, the Athenians fostered a failed rebellion of Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor circa 499 - 495 B.C. Paybacks being in order, Darius lands in Greece in 490 B.C., he gets his ass kicked at Marathon. His son attacks in 480 BC as the rest of the Greeks were playing at Olympia, maybe Athen's didn't have to burn (which it did after the Persians won the day at the Gates of Fire). After the Olympic's, the Greek's got together and hunted the Persians down and slaughtered them for what they did. Zerzes didn't want to play with the Greeks anymore after Plateia in 479, and yes he had the all the advantages of numbers, he still lost.

corrected erratta (Zerxzes/Darius)

So what you're saying is that the big picture and a few of the sensational details were right. Maybe you might want to consider that Leonidas left with 7000 soldiers, not 300, and sent most of them back when he found out he was about to be surrounded. Or that the ephors probably opposed Leonidas's idea to go to Thermopylae instead of Corinth (to protect the Peloponnesus but at the cost of losing Athens), and so they only authorized a small (7000 man) force. Or that there seems to have been a prophecy from Delphi that said that Sparta could only win the war if they lost one of their kings. Oh wait, the movie forgot to mention that there were two.  The film got the politics of the situation wrong, as well as the internal culture within Sparta; it got the context within Greece wrong; it got the physical culture wrong; it got a number of things about the battle wrong as well, not the least of which was the picture of the Persian military and its tactics. Oh wait, you don't care about that because the phantasmogoria was "from the Greek perspective," so that makes it accurate in your book. I'm a history professor in my day job, and I'd fail you for that kind of argument in class. Not to mention the idea that in the movie--despite Leonidas's comments to the hunchback that they had to keep the phalanx intact--they broke the line and fought as individuals or in pairs. And since you pointed out the crest of the helmet as the one detail they got wrong, what about the complete absence of body armor?

And that's just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head. If that's your idea of accurate, you need a dictionary.

The movie wasn't intended to teach history, so don't try to make it do that. It's a film adaptation of a comic book based on a movie about a historical event. The supply lines are getting pretty long there. Read Herodotus and then come back and tell me about the level of accuracy.

Spartans have been mistaken labeled as "Gay" for centuries, when ,if fact, they were merely extremely happy to see each other.

Is the objection that I called the graphic novel a comic book, or that I'm incorrect that the graphic novel was inspired by an earlier film?

And am I mistaken or is this a historical forum, and that the subject raised (not by me) is the accuracy of an element of "pop culture" in depicting history?

That was my understanding re. the comic as well. I may be wrong about that, but if I am, so is Wikipedia:

"300 is a historically-inspired graphic novel series (later collected into a single hardcover issue) written and illustrated by Frank Miller with painted colors by Lynn Varley. The comic is a retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae and the events leading up to it from the perspective of Leonidas of Sparta. 300 was particularly inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, a movie that Miller watched as a young boy."

I suppose that makes the contributor to Wikipedia's knowledge of pop culture "shabby," too.

Pop culture will be a subject of history, but history will not, I hope, be based on pop culture's misunderstandings of the past. I get a bit tense about this kind of thing because every time a popular historical movie comes out, I have to deal with it for the next few years in my college classrooms because a lot of students get their history from movies. The point is, it isn't history--it's entertainment based (usually very loosely) on a historical event. If my students could understand that difference, it would make my life easier.

And in case you didn't read carefully, I liked "300." It's a great movie--my wife described it as an art film, in fact. So I do respect it for what it is. But don't confuse it with something that's historically accurate.

It's not just Wikipedia. Frank Miller himself seems to mistakenly think the book was insprired by the movie "The 300 Spartans."


Good stuff Glenn

Sunshine said,"So what you're saying is that the big picture and a few of the sensational details were right. Maybe you might want to consider that Leonidas left with 7000 soldiers, not 300, and sent most of them back when he found out he was about to be surrounded."

I call bullshit sunshine. Cite your source. I'm guessing you're an undergrad lost in the revel of new knowledge. Did you professor cite that claptrap to you in class? Perhaps you read it online at Salon.com or some other light weight web site? 300 Spartans walked north with their king, he chose only men with adult heirs because he knew it was a suicide mission. There was not 6700 other people, they were accompinied by either Helots (former slaves) or perioikoi (friendly neighbors). The movie reflects this fact by having the Spartans meet up with Thespians on the march, Miller inserts Agesilaus's comment (which comes 36 years later), "You see, my friends, how many more soldiers we send than you!" (Plutarch) at this point. You confuse the retreat from the Hot Gate (where King L) fought a holding action so the forces under his command could retreat, with King L's move to the gate. There were other Greeks at the gate, the Persian were able to get behind King L and his men because some of the Greeks fled their posts and retreated to defend their homes.

"Or that there seems to have been a prophecy from Delphi that said that Sparta could only win the war if they lost one of their kings"

It is a movie sunshine, a exhustive examination of Spartan culture was beyond the scope of the movie. Can you say non sequiter?

The rest of your post is so inane and poorly reasoned as to begger the imagination, stringing together non sequiter after non sequiter does not equal reasoning. I can't believe you are a history professor. I call bullshit on that too. You're a uninformed undergrad at best, at worst you're a teacher and a poorly educated one at that, writing out of your field of study.

A story must betold from some perspective, I assume you favor the Persian hordes? The phantasmagorica aspect of the film was so in your face that anyone not being able to differentiate between it and reality is either stupid or disengenuous. Which are you?


What are your credentials?

Have you read Herodatus? I have. In Greek, though I admit it's been a while. (My undergrad degree was in linguistics, with various ancient Greek dialects as my major language.)

But I do stand corrected. I double checked my sources, and the estimate is that the total force at Thermopylae was 7000, not 7000 from Spartan territory. So you are correct on that point. If you argue on the basis of facts, you'll impress me. Name calling won't, nor will challenging my credentials.

Phantasmagoria. Yes, no one will take it seriously. But how does it tell us anything about what happened during the battle? As I read the Greek sources, they didn't see the Persians as monsters. In fact, they had more respect for Persian culture than for any other non-Greek civilization. So I fail to see  how that element actually tells us anything about the battle or the "Greek perspective" on it.

As for the rest, you were the one who asked where the historical inaccuracies were. I didn't even bring that up--I just responded to your message. The information I gave wasn't a structured argument; it was a collection of examples of things that were misleadingly presented (often by omission) in the movie. Evidently, I have different standards for accuracy than you do, though the only inaccuracy you cited was a rather picky detail about the helmet crest, a point I found bizarre since you didn't mention the lack of breastplates. So I thought that was the level of detail you were interested in, which to me includes important areas of omission as well as wrong facts. If you read the link, you know I'm a department chair with a PhD from one of the top history programs in the country, though not in ancient history, so I do know something about standards for historical accuracy.

And yes, it's a movie. That's the point I was trying to make. It's not an accurate historical depiction of the events, which is what you claimed. Very, very few movies are. So take the movie for what it is and don't try to learn history from it.

Sunshine, I don't believe you, no one who read the story of the 300, could confuse the retreat with the advance, it's absurd. If you knew your history you would also have no need to "double check" your sources. You'ld slap yourself in the forehead and say, "How could I screw up like that?" You're a fraud, I don't believe anything you write, I don't believe you read the H man in the Greek and yes I have read him, as well as other accounts of the stand.

I figure you for a intellectual posuer, you may impress some young kid's here, you don't impress me. The movie is an very accurate portrayal of the stand, it captures the event itself and the spirit of the age, quite well. Your objections are still inane.

Regarding the theme of this thread, no, the Greeks never normalized homosexuality; see Plato.

Believe what you like. I read Herodotus in the late '70s when I was an undergrad. When I taught Western Civ, I reviewed the events in a cursory fashion for my class, and they mentioned the 7000 at Thermopylae along with the dismissal. That's what stuck in my head--and if you read, you'll see that my comments were "off the top of my head." So there you have it. The real difference between us is that when I make a mistake, I admit it.

I'll tell you what. Why don't you send an e-mail to my school address--you can get it off the website, I believe--and I'll send you a response. If you think I'm a fraud, that should enable you to confirm it.

I edited my last post while you were posting your most recent two. You might want to re-read it as there are a few other things I added that might be of interest, notably the Greek attitude toward the Persians. And you have yet to respond to any of the detail points I raised except the 300, which I admit I got wrong. What about how the phalanx fought (OK in parts, but disastrous in others), or the body armor, or the reasons behind the Spartan reluctance to send their troops (why invent treachery when to the best of my knowledge there is no evidence for it?), or the dual kings, or the portrayal of the ephors and their role in Sparta, or the fact that it had already been decided that the Spartans would be the land commanders of the Greek alliance prior to the arrival of Xerxes (NOT Zerzes--how could an expert like you not know how to spell the name)? Why portray the Immortals as masked ninjas when they were primarily mounted archers IIRC? All of these strike me as important issues as a historian, though evidently they aren't to you.

If it is only the details of the stand that interest you, the Spartan equipment was spectacularly wrong (no armor), they didn't fight consistently as a phalanx (they broke up and fought as individuals or pairs), their enemies were "phantasmagoric," so there's nothing accurate about them and thus about how to fight them. What about it is accurate?

Nor have you given your credentials. I wonder why.