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Are They Singing in Sparta? by Helena P…

Are They Singing in Sparta?

by Helena P Schrader

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Recently added byjanerawoof, Chiliarch, Enzo, ariadne02



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What originally attracted me was the title; I thought Spartans + Singing an unusual combination. The novel turned out to be a delightful look at ancient Sparta, not so dour a society as my conception, but brutal enough. The author, through the stories of two Spartan families and of Tyrtaios, a lame middle-aged schoolmaster from Athens, who is appointed by the Delphi oracle as the Spartan Polemarch [army commander] to lead the Spartans as victory against another town. Tyrtaios does go, albeit unwillingly. Is this the oracle's joke? He is a poet and writes music; he even wonders himself how he, with no military experience, can lead an army. There's a sweet love story between Agesandros, a Spartan officer, and a widow, Alethea. Through the stories of Alethea's sons, the author presents painlessly customs of ancient Sparta. Tyrtaios figures out his mission and makes the best use of his talents. The oracle was just being an oracle--obscure.

The author was outstanding in how she wove her heartwarming story together and in her strong characterizations. I really cared about the people. I want to seek out more of her writings. Her extra material was a plus. ( )
  janerawoof | Oct 24, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0595386903, Paperback)

Messenia is in revolt, and the Messenians have been out-witting Sparta’s crack troops. On the advice of Delphi, Sparta requests that Athens appoint a new Supreme Commander for Sparta’s army. Athens intentionally selects an obscure schoolmaster unlikely to help Sparta win the war, Tyrtaios. Tyrtaios was born lame, has no military experience, and everything he has ever heard about Sparta makes it the last place on earth where he wishes to live.

The Spartan officer Agesandros is horrified by the “joke” Athens has played on Sparta in appointing Tyrtaios Sparta’s Supreme Polemarch. But as the son of a notorious brawler and drunk, who gained Spartan citizenship only after a radical reform of the Spartan Constitution, his voice counts for little. Furthermore, while Agesandros is obsessively ambitious, his sister is married to a helot and his nephew appears to have joined the rebellion against Sparta.

The widow Alethea, the daughter of a Spartan nobleman, took refuge in Athens during the “Time of Troubles”. She alone understands how Tyrtaios is suffering in Sparta. Yet when her growing sons fall foul of the authorities, she finds herself under increasing pressure to remarry, and Agesandros is the most obvious suitor.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:59 -0400)

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