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Maybe it was Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire or Frank Miller's 300 that got you interested in learning about Sparta, but the thought of delving into Herodotus, Thucydides, or Plutarch appeared a bit too daunting. Luckily you don't have to brave the classics in order to get a rich education of the ultimate warrior city-state of ancient Greece. PBS's The Spartans is a well-researched, well-paced three-hour documentary telling you everything an armchair Lambda-wearing Hoplite would ever want to know about Greece's legendary warriors. Classical historian Bettany Hughes does an amazing job of exploring all aspects of life and history in the utopian city-state, including their rise to power, battles, discipline and training, thrifty existence, ideals of equality, enforcement of social/sexual freedom for both genders, and, ultimately, their downfall. Couple The Spartans with Empires: The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization, and you are guaranteed to walk away knowing more than most about the roots of Western Civilization without having to crack open the classics (though that is recommended!). --Rob Bracco
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I can understand some of the comments about how it doesn't do things like get a variety of researchers and historians together for commentaries, or show 3D animations, or that the battle reenactment gets a bit repetitive after a while. However, it seems to have been the filmmakers' intention to use more of a "walking tour" approach, with host Bettany Hughes taking the audience by foot or by car around sites as they are today and explaining how things were like back in the day. The style of the program is very similar to walking tours I went on when I visited Italy back in college. This DVD is probably the next best thing to going over to visit the Spartan sites in person!
The location photography was terrific and the music was pretty solid as well. The presentation content was also strong and fits the walking tour format - informative and accessible to pretty much anyone, touching on major themes and ideas, and not getting too overly crammed with detailed statistics. All the major people and events in Spartan history are vividly described and analyzed. Alcibiades comes off like a rascal and Lysander seems like a clever fox. I highly recommend this show if you want to go walk around Greece and hear ancient history all in the comfort of your own chair!
The Spartans of antiquity showed how a society can be stable over hundreds of years by a constitution that places power in the hands of beings wit accent on the welfare of the society rather than the ego.
I would (as my native language is not english)have wanted subtitlesin the DVD. At times I did not manage to hear what was said.
It is very informative, however, and I thought the pace and narration was good. It covers a swath of time, from the origins of Spartan civilization to their decline. It is not simply a description of various battles and wars and I think it offers you an interesting and rounded understanding of Spartan society and culture.
This is probably interesting to someone very curious about the Spartan with little to intermediate knowledge or someone happy to hear what they may already know from a slightly different persepctive. I enjoyed it and will watch it more than once.
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