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The Olympian by E.S. Kraay

The Olympian (2008)

by E.S. Kraay

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Ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε κείμεθα​, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι. ​
Tell them in Lacedaemon [Sparta], passer-by / That here, obedient to their laws, we lie

Epitaph at Thermopylae commemorating the 300 Spartans who died there in defense of Hellas, trying to repel the army of Xerxes and attributed to Simonides, the poet. A gripping, thoughtful story of what truly makes a human being....

To a group from Thasos and Egypt Simonides tells the story of Theagenes [Theo] of Thasos, Olympic champion boxer and his trip accompanying Theo to Thermopylae, where Theo wishes to fight the Spartan boxing champion, Lampis; Theo felt he had left Olympia before their match to answer the call of his countrymen and was a coward for doing so and not facing Theo in the Games. When Simonides and Theo arrive at Thermopylae, they witness the end of the battle. The Spartans' example of courage and selflessness teaches them the deeper values of life and to live their life for others, instead of their individual arrogance and self-aggrandizement. Each honors the fallen in his own way.

Good cover art: now I can imagine this bronze statue of the "Hellenistic Boxer" as being one of Theo.

Despite a few proofing errors, this is a story to remember for its insight and not a gory, bloody recounting of the battle. We don't know whether in history, Simonides was actually at the scene and was an eyewitness, but it's a fascinating speculation to think so. Our negative stereotype of a Spartan was absent from the story for the most part. ( )
  janerawoof | Feb 29, 2016 |
Powerful book on human values. Unique story that juxtaposes the 75th Olympiad in 480 BC with the stand of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. ( )
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  baddyo | Oct 1, 2008 |
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I was 12-years-old when my father took me to my first Olympic Games.
No man lives forever, though what he leaves behind can endure so other men might benefit from each man's knowledge.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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