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War and Warfare (J199/23)

The Persian Wars

[Source: Introduction to Ancient Greek History with Donald Kagan]

The course 'Introduction to Ancient Greek History' is a series of lectures delivered by the great Donald Kagan to undergraduates at Yale and is an excellent and comprehensive overview of Ancient Greek history from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period. Episodes 12-20 are of especial interest to this topic.

Thermopylae

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Battle of Thermopylae. For the historian Herodotus, the Battle of Thermopylae was the defining clash between East and West: “The Persians fell in their scores, for the officers stood behind lashing them forward, forward all the time. Many fell into the sea and were drowned, many more were trampled to death by their comrades ... The Greeks knew they were doomed now the Persians had discovered a way round the hill, and put forth their last ounce of strength, utterly desperate, utterly unsparing of their lives. (King) Leonidas fell in this battle. He had proved himself a great and brave man”.A force of three hundred free Spartans and their King had stood and fallen before an invading army of three million, led by a brutal tyrant. Or so the story goes – such was their courage and its association with freedom that, nearly two and a half thousand years later, William Golding wrote, “A little of Leonidas lies in the fact that I can go where I like and write what I like. He contributed to setting us free”.How important are the Greek/Persian wars to the story of democracy? Was the West and its values really so far removed from life in the Persian Empire?With Tom Holland, historian and author of Persian Fire; Simon Goldhill, Professor in Greek Literature and Culture at King’s College, Cambridge; Edith Hall, Leverhulme Professor of Greek Cultural History at the University of Durham and author of Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy.

The Battle of Salamis

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what is often called one of the most significant battles in history. In 480BC in the Saronic Gulf near Athens, between the mainland and the island of Salamis, a fleet of Greek allies decisively defeated a larger Persian-led fleet. This halted the further Persian conquest of Greece and, at Plataea and Mycale the next year, further Greek victories brought Persian withdrawal and the immediate threat of conquest to an end. To the Greeks, this enabled a flourishing of a culture that went on to influence the development of civilisation in Rome and, later, Europe and beyond. To the Persians, it was a reverse at the fringes of their vast empire but not a threat to their existence, as it was for the Greek states, and attention turned to quelling unrest elsewhere. With Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Professor in Ancient History at Cardiff University; Lindsay Allen, Lecturer in Greek and Near Eastern History, King's College London; and Paul Cartledge, Emeritus Professor of Greek Culture and AG Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge.

Sparta

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and guests Paul Cartledge, Edith Hall and Angie Hobbs discuss Sparta, the militaristic Ancient Greek city-state, and the political ideas it spawned.The isolated Ancient Greek city-state of Sparta was a ferocious opposite to the cosmopolitan port of Athens. Spartans were hostile to outsiders and rhetoric, to philosophy and change. Two and a half thousand years on, Sparta remains famous for its brutally rigorous culture of military discipline, as inculcated in its young men through communal living, and terrifying, licensed violence towards the Helots, the city-state's subjugated majority. Sparta and its cruelty was used as an argument against slavery by British Abolitionists in the early 1800s, before inspiring the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.Yet Sparta also produced poets of great skill: Tyrteaus wrote marching songs for the young men; Alcman wrote choral lyrics for the young women. Moreover, the city-state's rulers pioneered a radically egalitarian political system, and its ideals were invoked by Plato. Its inhabitants also prided themselves on their wit: we don't only derive the word 'spartan' from their culture, but the word 'laconic'. Paul Cartledge is AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture and a Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge; Edith Hall is Professor of Classics and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London; Angie Hobbs is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Warwick.

The Evolution of Siege Warfare under Alexander the Great

A video created by Theo Guiness as part of the Undergraduate module 'Hellenistic World'

A Bullet with Your Name On

[Source: Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions Project podcast]

Dr Jane Masséglia and Dr Hannah Cornwell talk about a signed slingshot bullet used in 41/40 BC, during the Roman Civil War, in a battle between the young Octavian, and the family of Mark Antony.

Auxiliary soldiers: Romans-to-be

[Source: Romans in Focus: University of Cambridge School Classics Project]

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Dr Ersin Hussein discusses citizenship, cultural identity and the army. What did it mean to be a soldier stationed in northern Britain? What did it mean to become a Roman citizen?