Bret Devereaux has long been my go-to source for all things ancient and military history. One thing I somehow missed reading from his incredibly resourceful website is the This Isn’t Sparta series. He recently published a three-year-anniversary series retrospective which promptly surfaced on my RSS feed, giving me a chance to catch up over the holidays. The whole thing is a very long read, with some installments more engaging than others but overall very enjoyable, eye-opening, and information dense. In the just-published retrospective, Bret writes:
The series was thus intended to be set against the general public hagiography of Sparta and its intended audience was what I’ve heard termed the ‘Sparta Bro’ – the person for whom the Spartans represent a positive example (indeed, often the pinnacle) of masculine achievement, often explicitly connected to roles in law enforcement, military service and physical fitness (the regularity with which that last thing is included is striking and suggests to me the profound unseriousness of the argument). […] In that light, I think the series holds up fairly well.
As a former 100% Sparta Bro, I qualified for the target audience. Paraphrasing Marx, one could say that ignorance is the opium of the people. Take 300 the movie. I’m glad I saw it as entirely ignorant of Sparta’s ‘real’ prowess, or most fun would have been spoiled.