Theme: Greek Military
The themes represented throughout Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield, give us an idea as to how Greek society operated and what they valued. History comes alive when Pressfield discusses the battles and city-states of ancient Greece. With this fictitious account of real events we are able to relate to characters living during a different time, in a different place. We can try and understand, through history and Pressfield, how and why the Greeks fought and died. The Greeks valued their military training. Without it, the city-states were defenseless. Some city-states were so small that farmers and citizen-soldiers would protect the land on which they lived. Their training was scant but their wills to defend their homes were strong. Larger city-states, such as Athens, had enough citizens so that not every man was needed for the army. There was some choice. But then, there were the Spartans. The Spartans seem to be the extreme case in Greece. Their entire society was based on military life and both men and women were forced to train from early on. Since the men comprised the army they received the most difficult and brutal training imaginable. The Spartan way of life tells us that living in ancient Greece meant living in a hostile region. City-states were in relatively close proximity to one another and therefore clashed often. The Spartans reflect for us the extreme necessity of a standing army. From their society we know that Greece was a very conflict-ridden part of the world. Since the Greeks valued freedom and private land ownership, it was necessary that they defend their families and property. Clashes would arise between city-states for many different reasons. War, for the Greeks, was as commonplace as any other part of ordinary life. The book centers on military life and training. Pressfield wants to impart upon the reader the importance of armies in ancient Greece. He wants the reader to understand that civilizations rose and fell...
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