Read this exclusive guest post from Nicholas Guild, author of The Spartan Dagger, about how he came up with the plot for his latest historical novel, and make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of the book!
When I was a little boy, I had a collection of toy soldiers and, as little boys will, I created an elaborate fantasy around them, imagining them to be a society of brave and noble warriors. I always called this society “Sparta.” At the age of eight, I was not yet a student of ancient history, so I have no idea how I happened to hit upon that name.
The Spartans have generally been much admired, both in antiquity and later, and while it is true that they were brave and capable soldiers, there is another side of them which is not nearly so admirable.
The problem that molded the Spartan character was the fact that they were surrounded by a peasant population called the “Helots,” who vastly outnumbered them and whom they held in the most brutal subjection. Thus, they developed a military culture in which the only virtues were courage and loyalty to the state.