Thebes: When Defeat Eviscerates Culture

After a short epilogue to Jan. 6 craze, Victor Davis Hanson and Sami Winc discuss the history of Thebes, its destruction in the 4th century, and its legacy to the 20th century—its an amazing sweep through Greek history with the city at the center.

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8 thoughts on “Thebes: When Defeat Eviscerates Culture”

  1. Hurrah! Theban hoplites! This episode was incredibly useful as an overview of a topic that would require extensive reading to otherwise bring into focus. It’s not the sort of thing you can just pick up a basic history of Ancient Greece and learn, yet it’s important information for understanding the transition from Classical to Late Classical to Hellenistic.

    Note: there is a large body of scholarship on Augustine’s African-ness. Christianity was used as a tool for expressing non-Roman local identities since at least Tertulian. The conservative evangelical Torrey Honors College at Biola just wrapped an important study on teaching African texts as African a couple years ago. If you’re interested in this subject, check them out.

    P.s. Poor Athens did modify their democracy to reject its more radical elements in the Late Classical and Hellenistic periods. This contributed to the creation of Greek Federalism and notions of basic human rights in the Hellenistic Era. See Walbank’s Hellenistic Era and Michael Scott’s Democrats to Kings. Don’t they get some credit. 😉

  2. Very annoying that when you give dates, you don’t differentiate between BCE and AD. Took me a while to figure out that I can be off 16 k years.

  3. Your description of archeological digs is interesting as you dig up rather than down. Works OK as long as you are consistent. Helps if your reader or listener has figured out which direction you are going.
    Concerning the powerful kingdoms, I suppose the Aztecs are as good an example as any: their Achilles Heel is that they existed only by brutal subjugation. So when Cortez invaded Mexico, the tribes who might have slowed him, in many cases were his allies, because they hated the Aztecs. This hatred by subjugated peoples towards their oppressors seems to be a recurrent theme in many of your narratives. I’m surprised you don’t stress it more.

  4. Another great discussion. Sign us up, now, for your trip to Thebes and environs! I knew the leading characters in The End of Sparta were lifted from history, but had no idea that the minor characters were as well.

  5. Michael Bradley

    I loved “The End of Sparta” and was happy to hear it brought up in this podcast. I would like to hear more from VDH about the dialog in novel, as it is quite unique. VDH creates a world in which the characters speak English, but in a slightly different and more formal way that informs you that they are not of this time. Well done, and I would enjoy hearing more about it.

    1. I’d like to second this! I’ve read about Tolkien using this process to create realistic sounding dialogue and I’d very much like to hear how another scholar-author employed the technique.

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