Monday, March 19, 2007


I haven't seen the new film 'about' the battle of Thermopylae - though I might if I haven't anything better to do. It is, however, irritating all of the right people. To describe a representation, however pop-art and comic-strip it might be, as a racist fantasy seems to be something of a stretch. Moreover, this article in Comment is Free displays a bewildering lack of knowledge - as well as a predictable absence of humour.
What is most worrying to me is the idea that "western civilisation" is not, as I had understood it to be, the cultural, economic and militarily power dominating the globe, but a civilisation on the back foot, cornered, victimised and under siege.
Rather the point of Thermopylae, and the earlier battle of Marathon, was that the cradle of Western civilisation, as we know it, was on the back foot - threatened by the world's largest empire. The reason for this threat was precisely because its ideas of democracy (not to be confused with modern democracy of course) were anathema to a widely spread, highly centralised Empire such as Persia. So an enormous army, and vast navy, was sent across the Hellespont to wipe out Athens and Sparta. It was an existential threat to the entire Hellenic world.
It may not surprise anyone that King Leonidis repeatedly makes reference to "freedom" and calls the Persian troops slaves. The average audience of 300 - which I assume to be 16-year-olds taking time off from playing computer games - would not know that the Spartans were notorious as slavers, and that Persepolis was built by wage earners.
The Spartans, and Athenians and Minoans and Hittites and Egyptians and, despite what Golsorkhi might say, the Persians were indeed slavers. The reason for the Spartan armies pride themselves on their freedom, is precisely because they disparage the subservience of the Persian army to the king - the Spartan king was, after all, selected by the Spartans themselves - and often bumped off when they failed to perform. Also if you're deriding the stupidity of the film's audience, it helps to spell the name of the Spartan King correctly. Leonidas - it's not a tricky one really.
I suppose I should be grateful that this hasn't developed an 'Islamaphobe' theme yet - make sure to say thank you to Ahura Mazda in your prayers tonight...


Blogger JohnM said...

The problem we've got is that few people understand the concept of liberty anymore. In the days when British government was minimalistic compared to say that of the French, it meant something, but not any longer.

10:52 pm  

Post a comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home