Memorising Latin Grammar and Vocabulary

The basic intellectual process involved in using electronic tools versus pen and paper/ whiteboard is very different yet both are beneficial to different purposes.

Numen’s Latin Lexicon seems like a valuable resource for learning Latin though not so helpful for memorising it. It has functions that facilitate understanding about the form of a verb, its pronunciation, and its uses within sentences; as well as checking correct spelling etc.; and it has an option to create flashcards. Although, I personally found this website difficult to navigate and with little difference to the help one would gain from a textbook or a dictionary.

In the past, I’ve used pen and paper to create flashcards however this has been quite tedious. In comparison, the website and app studyblue (https://www.studyblue.com/#recents) has been incredibly useful for me recently. I’ve found that preparing the flash cards is a lot quicker than on paper and, since it’s electronic, the means of testing these cards are more flexible. For example, using the information provided, the app creates a test featuring multiple-choice questions, true or false, and fill-in-the-blank modes. The cards can also be flipped, randomised, and studied in different orders, which means you can easily test both passive and active memory types.

Conversely, I have found writing forms out into tables using coloured markers to be incredibly useful. The colours are eye-catching, making them easier to focus on as opposed to learning the forms off a black and white screen. The act of writing the forms out on paper is a learning exercise in and of itself as it aids with solidifying the information since you must think more deeply about the content when writing it yourself. Furthermore, the repetition of writing and re-writing the forms is invaluable as compared to merely reading them off a screen.

How important a part of Spartan society was the hoplite army, in the seventh and sixth centuries BC?

The emergence of the hoplite army in the early seventh century BC was piecemeal rather than en bloc as the ‘Spartan mirage’ portrays. However, once adopted, the hoplite army became an integral aspect of Spartan society through the seventh and sixth centuries BC and remained, as Cartledge describes, the doyenne of developed hoplite warfare.[1] The endurance of Sparta’s hoplite army was due to its success in maintaining eunomia (good order) after the stasis (civil disturbance) caused by their defeat at the Battle of Hysiae during the Second Messenian War in the early seventh century BC.[2] Moreover, this success was arguably fed by a constant state of fear that was not only caused by external threats but also from internal threats such as those posed by the overwhelming population size of the helots (serfs). The consequential popularisation of the phalanx reshaped societal structure by introducing poorer Spartan to a style of fighting previously dominated by aristocrats.[3] This inclusion of the poor resulted in the flattening of the hierarchal structure within Spartan society and the development of the homoioi (equals).[4] Finley’s ideas about the ‘sixth-century revolution’ view the reformation of Sparta in becoming a martial society as fulfilled by the sixth century. This reformation is attributed to the legendary lawgiver Lycurgus and, through the approach of the polis’ (city-state) to features such as child rearing, religion, and economics, the importance of the hoplite army to Spartan society at this time was thus reflected.

Xenophon, Plutarch, and Plato all describe the reformed Spartans as ‘technitai ton polemikon’ (professionals of war).[5] This imagery is depicted in an ivory seal excavated from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, which portrays three hoplites, as characterized by their hopla (shields).[6] Hopla were vital to the operation of the phalanx and the word hoplon led to the etymology of the term ‘hoplite’.[7] Hoplite warfare developed through the introduction of heavier armour with hand-to-hand combat developing soon after in the late seventh century.

The Spartans were able to achieve their reputation as ‘professionals of war’ through their approach to rearing offspring. Foremost was the practice of eugenics in order to produce sons who would become fit soldiers.[8] This was achieved through both priming a woman to be fit for childbearing and the practice of infanticide. Another technique the Spartans employed was their unique education system, the agoge (‘raising’), which Finley defines as “[a] common, formalized, compulsory upbringing designed to inculcate obedience, valour, discipline and professional military skills.”[9] Similarly, Plutarch states that the agoge “made citizens obedient to the laws and tractable, like horses are broken in while colts.”[10] The manipulation of citizens from birth, through infanticide and education, truly highlights the depth of militaristic influence on the society during this period.

The integration of martial practices in the religious sphere also reflects the importance of the hoplite army on Spartan society. Xenophon reports that at the festival of Artemis Orthia, as a rite de passage, boys would attempt to steal cheese off the altar and, if caught, were whipped as punishment.[11] The purpose of this religious exercise was to teach boys the traits necessary for a militaristic lifestyle. Martial traits were also honed through marching songs and energetic dances performed at annual religious festivals, such as the festival of Karneia. [12] These performances were often in the form of an agon (contest).[13] This encouraged athleticism as well as reinforcing rhythm. Another aspect of military life, as Plutarch records, was that only men who died in war and women who died as priestesses or in childbirth received an inscription on their tomb.[14] For example, inscription IG V.1 714 reading “Agippia [died] in childbirth”.[15] The Spartan poet Tyrtaios writes of this honour, “…He is immortal in the grave, that man whom the furious Ares destroys as he defends his land and his children.”[16]

The sixth-century revolutionised Spartan polis emphasized homoioi in order to reinforce the equality of Spartans to the effect of encouraging comradeship. At birth, every Spartiate was supposedly assigned an equal kleros (an allotment of land).[17] Upon graduation from the agoge, Spartiates joined a syssitia (mess) and would dine and sleep with their messmates as they would in battle. Spartiates were capable of such a life due to chrematismos, the prohibition of business activity, which was made possible due to all necessities being provided by either the helots or perioikoi (dwellers-around).[18] A sense of fraternity within society correlated with the realism of military life and so was emulated in everyday life.

Finley’s idea of a ‘sixth-century revolution’ saw the full integration of hoplite warfare into Spartan society. While Cartledge opposes a similar view, as posed by Snodgrass, his arguments are flawed, as can be seen where he suggests that the development of the hoplite army could not be piecemeal, as panoply was too expensive. [19] Conversely, if Cartledge’s view is correct then how did the Spartan army acquire panoply so suddenly? Furthermore, if the hoplite army was inferior to other styles, as Cartledge goes on to suggest, then why does the style prevail from the seventh and sixth centuries to 371BC? It is only through the importance the hoplite army held in society that it was capable of its legendary successes including: the formation of the Peloponnesian League in 550BC of which Sparta established its hegemony, The Battle of Champions in 546BC, the annual defeat of the Messenians, as well as Sparta’s continued oppression of the helots ensuring there were no revolts. Hence, it is clear from the evidence that the hoplite army was inextricably tied with Spartan society in the seventh and sixth centuries BC.

[1] Cartledge (1977: 11).

[2] Cartledge (1977:27); Holladay (1982: 97).

[3] Snodgrass (1965: 122).

[4] García & de Quiroga (2012: 133); Cartledge (1977: 27).

[5] Xenophon in Cartledge (1977: 16?)

[6] Fig. 1 in Cartledge (1977: 26).

[7] Cartledge (1977:13).

[8] Pomeroy (2002: 34).

[9] Finley (1981: 27).

[10] Plutarch, Life of Agesilaos 1.2.

[11] Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians, 2.9).

[12] Cartledge (1977:17).

[13] Burket (1985: 234).

[14] Plutarch, Life of Lykourgos, 27.3 in Dillon (2007: 151).

[15] Bradford (1977: 16).

[16] Tyrtaios, Fr. 12.23-24.

[17] Pomeroy (2002: 35).

[18] Finley (1981: 27); Finley (1981: 31).

[19] Cartledge (1977: 19-20).

Bibliography

Bradford, A.S. (1977), A Prosopography of Lacedaemonians from the Death of Alexander the Great, 323 B.C., to the Sack of Sparta by Alaric, A.D. 396, Part 396, vol. 27 of Vestigia, Munich.

Burket, W. (1985), ‘The Rhythm of the Festivals’ in Greek Religion, Massachusetts, 225-245.

Cartledge, P. (1977), “Hoplites and Heroes”, JHS 97, 11-27.

Finley, M.I, (1981), ‘Sparta and Spartan Society’ in M.I. Finley (ed.), Economy and Society in Ancient Greece, London, 24-40 and 253-255.

García, F.J.G & P.L.B de Quiroga (2012), “Neocon Greece: V.D. Hanson’s War on History”, International Journal of the Classical Tradition 19, 129-151.

Holladay, A.J. (1982), “Hoplites and Heresies”, JHS 102, 94-103.

Plutarch, Life of Agesilaos in Perrin, B., trans. (1917), The Loeb Classical Library, vol. 5, Cambridge.

Plutarch, Life of Lykourgos in Dillon, M. (2007), “Were Spartan women who died in childbirth honoured with grave inscriptions?”, Hermes 135, 149-165.

Pomeroy, S.B., (2002), ‘Becoming a Wife’ in S.B. Pomeroy Spartan Women, Oxford, 33-49.

Snodgrass, A.M. (1965), “The Hoplite Reform and History”, JHS 85, 110-122.

Tyrtaios, Fragment 12.23-24 in Lattimore, R. trans. (1960), Greek Lyrics, Chicago.

van Wees, H., (2004), ‘The Archaic Phalanx’ in H. van Wees (ed.), Greek Warfare: Myths and Realities, London, 166-298.

Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians in Marchant, E.C. trans. (1914), Xenophon: Scripta minora, vol. 7, Cambridge.

The Spartans and Hoplite Warfare

These were some questions I had to answer for uni homework. Thought I’d share them since Sparta is such an interesting polis (city-state).

What features of Spartan education prepared Spartan boys for hoplite warfare?

The Spartans were able to achieve their reputation as ‘technitai ton polemikon’ (professionals of war) through their unique education system, the agoge (‘raising’), which Finley defines as “[a] common, formalized, compulsory upbringing designed to inculcate obedience, valour, discipline and professional military skills” (1981: 27). Similarly, Plutarch states that the agoge “made citizens obedient to the laws and tractable, like horses are broken in while colts” (Life of Agesilaos 1.2). The agoge was broken into ‘age-classes’ where the elder boys (eiren) were responsible for disciplining the younger boys. This taught boys about respect and hierarchy, which translated directly to a warfare setting in which it was imperative they obeyed the commands of their superiors. Likewise, an erastis would be paired with a younger boy as a mentor, encouraging the boy to excel in sport and display courage and endurance. This erastis sought to be the role model of the perfect Spartan. Spartan boys were expected to go barefoot, wear a thin tunic and cloak in winter, not used torches in the dark, eat monotonous food, steal to prevent starvation, practice organized fights, and learn war songs. This behaviour prepared Spartan boys for hoplite warfare.

What connection did religion have with hoplite warfare, for the Spartans?

Religion was a means of encouraging militaristic traits for the Spartans. Xenophon reports that at the festival of Artemis Orthia, as a rites de passage, boys would attempt to steal cheese off the altar and, if caught, were whipped as punishment (Constitution of the Lacedaimonians, 2.9). The purpose of this religious exercise was to teach boys the traits necessary for a militaristic lifestyle. Martial traits were also honed through marching songs and energetic dances performed at annual religious festivals, such as the festival of Karneia (Cartledge 1977:17). These performances were often in the form of an agon (contest) (Burket 1985: 234). This encouraged athleticism as well as reinforced rhythm. Another aspect of military life, as Plutarch records, was that only men who died in war and women who died as priestesses or in childbirth received an inscription on their tomb (Life of Lykourgos, 27.3). The Spartan poet Tyrtaios writes of this honour, “…He is immortal in the grave, that man whom the furious Ares destroys as he defends his land and his children” (Fr. 12.23-24).

 How serious a weakness was Sparta’s relatively slight experience in siege techniques?

Sparta’s slight experience in siege techniques was a serious weakness albeit not a devastating one until the fall at Leuctra in 371 BC. As Cartledge states, “If there was one chink in the Spartans’ armour, it was their consistent failure (or, rather, refusal) to solve problems of siege-warfare. But this defect only became marked in the fifth century and really seriously only in the fourth” (1977: 17). Cartledge attributes this inflexibility to the hoplite model, as the hoplite model was built upon needing plains to be efficient. Holladay concurs to Cartledge’s statement about the Spartans inflexibility by stating that the Spartan’s avoided sieges as a way of sticking to a “safe formula” (1982: 101). Despite this inflexibility, the Spartans persevered using the hoplite style for centuries, which shows that Sparta’s weakness in siege techniques was not a major issue for a long time.

How tenable is Snodgrass’s theory of gradual adoption of the hoplite style of fighting, in view of Cartledge’s criticism of it (‘Hoplites and heroes’, pp.19 ff.)?

While Cartledge opposes Snodgrass’s theory of gradual adoption of the hoplite style, his arguments are flawed, as can be seen where he suggests that the development of the hoplite army could not be piecemeal, as panoply was too expensive (1977: 19-20). Conversely, if Cartledge’s view is correct then how did the Spartan army acquire panoply so suddenly? Furthermore, if the hoplite army was inferior to other styles, as Cartledge goes on to suggest, then why does the style prevail from the seventh and sixth centuries to 371BC? Since other historians, such as Finley (cf. ‘sixth-century revolution’) also adopt the theory of gradual adoption, it seems that Cartledge’s criticism of it stands alone.

How well does Cartledge’s view of hoplite warfare stand up to Holladay’s criticism of it (‘Hoplites and heresies’, 97ff.)?

Cartledge suggests that both the development and preservation of hoplite warfare is due to political advantage through the restriction of participation since the poor could not afford ownership of hoplite equipment (Holladay, 1982: 97). Cartledge believes that “if such people were allowed to realise their military potential they would demand political advancement” (Holladay, 1982: 97). On the contrary, Holladay believes that the hoplite style is superior. Holladay points out that if the Spartans were attempting to maintain a political gap they would have appointed helots and periokoi as light-armed infantry rather than hoplites (101). Holladay also uses logical sources to rebut Cartledge’s statements. For example, Holladay points out that Eastern dynasts were so impressed by the effectiveness of the hoplite style that they hired hoplites as mercenaries (1982: 100). Furthermore, Holladay integrates the opinions of other historians, such as Gomme, to aid and legitimise his argument. Overall, Cartledge’s view of hoplite warfare seems inconsequential against Holladay’s criticism of it.

Bibliography

Burket, W. (1985), ‘The Rhythm of the Festivals’ in Greek Religion, Massachusetts, 225-245.

Cartledge, P. (1977), “Hoplites and Heroes”, JHS 97, 11-27.

Finley, M.I, (1981), ‘Sparta and Spartan Society’ in M.I. Finley (ed.), Economy and Society in Ancient Greece, London, 24-40 and 253-255.

García, F.J.G & P.L.B de Quiroga (2012), “Neocon Greece: V.D. Hanson’s War on History”, International Journal of the Classical Tradition 19, 129-151.

Holladay, A.J. (1982), “Hoplites and Heresies”, JHS 102, 94-103.

Plutarch, Life of Agesilaos in Perrin, B., trans. (1917), The Loeb Classical Library, vol. 5, Cambridge.

Plutarch, Life of Lykourgos in Dillon, M. (2007), “Were Spartan women who died in childbirth honoured with grave inscriptions?”, Hermes 135, 149-165.

Snodgrass, A.M. (1965), “The Hoplite Reform and History”, JHS 85, 110-122.

Tyrtaios, Fragment 12.23-24 in Lattimore, R. trans. (1960), Greek Lyrics, Chicago.

van Wees, H., (2004), ‘The Archaic Phalanx’ in H. van Wees (ed.), Greek Warfare: Myths and Realities, London, 166-298.

Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians in Marchant, E.C. trans. (1914), Xenophon: Scripta minora, vol. 7, Cambridge.

The Spartans and their lawgiver in Xenophon’s Constitution of the Lacedaimonians

These were some questions I had to answer for uni homework. Thought I’d share them since Sparta is such an interesting polis (city-state). I was required to answer these questions based off Xenophon’s Constitution of the Lacedaimonians.

 

In what respects did the Spartan state take over functions which the family had in other Greek states?

The Spartan state took over functions that were normally conventional of the family in the other Greek states in such a way as to both reinforce and reflect the ideals of the Lycurgan constitution. The undertones of these ideals were toward ensuring Sparta was a successful martial state. One such ideal was that of sharing, as Xenophon states that Spartiates were to participate in public messes outside in the open rather than at home (V.2). Another Lycurgan value, respect, was portrayed in Sparta where Spartiate fathers had authority over other men’s children as well as his own whereas in other Greek states the boys would be answerable to the kyrios (head of the house) (VI.1). This convention encouraged boys to respect their elders and fathers to respect their peers. Similarly, Xenophon states that the Lacedaimonian constitution gave citizens the power to use other men’s servants in case of necessity, reflecting the values of both sharing and respecting one another (VI.3). Unlike other states, Spartans were discouraged from involvement in business affairs and were instead only allowed to be concerned with activities related to civic freedom (VII.1). This was ensured through restricting the use of money, which was prevalent in other Greek states. This allowed male Spartans to focus on a militaristic lifestyle and female Spartans in maintaining themselves for childbearing.

What was the role of money in Spartan life, according to Xenophon?

According to Xenophon there was no role for money in Sparta. Xenophon states that it was more respectable for Spartans to help messmates with “toil” rather than money (VII.4). This exemplifies that Spartans viewed money as superfluous and unnecessary. Furthermore, Xenophon reports that there was a right to search for gold and silver and the possessor of such money could be fined (VII.6). The fact owning money was finable highlights that not only was money in Sparta unnecessary but having money was unconstitutional. Xenophon also describes money as being too large to hide, “even a sum of ten minae could not be brought into a house without the master and the servants being aware of it: The money would fill a large space and need a wagon to draw it” (VII.5). The imagery of money being large again reflects that Spartans viewed money as superfluous, but also shows that money was deliberately made to be large so that it would be impossible to hide, and therefore would render any Spartan found with money to be viewed as more interested in materiality than helping his brothers through toil like was expected.

What were the duties and privileges of ephors at Sparta?

The ephors were the chief magistrates of the state (VIII.3). They exercised great power through their duties and privileges. Their duties included two of the five ephors being required to be present during war to supervise without interceding in events, fining whomever they chose with the authority to enact immediate payment, the authority to deprive magistrates of office and even imprison and prefer a capital charge against them, and picking three of the youth to be Commanders of the Guard (XIII.1; VIII.4; IV.3). The ephors were also entitled to great privileges; such as, not having to rise from their chairs in the presence of the kings (XV.7).

In what respects (see chapter 14) does Xenophon think the Spartans fail to live up to Lycurgus’ principles?

In chapter fourteen of Constitution of the Lacedaimonians, Xenophon infers that the Spartans fall short of Lycurgus’ principles due to ambitiousness. He states that while they were living according to Lycurgus’ constitution the Spartans preferred to live with moderate fortunes rather than expose themselves to corruption but ‘now’ they expose themselves to the influences of flattery as governors of dependent states (XIV.2-3). In addition to this, while living abroad was once illegal, many Spartans now fix their ambition on living as governors in a foreign land, thus exposing themselves to the demoralization of the foreigners (XIV.4). Similarly, many Spartans are now striving to exercise rule rather than prove worthy of it and where Spartans were once afraid to be found in the possession of gold, they now boast of their possessions (XIV.3-5). Hence, Xenophon seems to think that the Spartans have become corrupt over time, allowing material matters as well as power to drive them rather than focusing on being a worthy citizen.

Issues with the reliability of DNA testing for phylogeographical research

Issues with the reliability of DNA testing for phylogeographical research

Natasha Sneddon

 

Why is it that the various major DNA testing companies ascribe differing ethnicity results to a single genome and how is this a problem for phylogeography? One explanation is the genomic similarity of people with different ethnicities due to genetic admixture caused by migration (Jobling et al. 2016). This renders it difficult for researchers to isolate the ancient DNA from the modern inhabitants. The diverse results of different testing services can be accounted for by the different algorithms they use, which interpret single nucleotide polymorphisms as representing a particular lineage or population (Jobling et al. 2016). The main problem with these algorithms is that they are developed using interpretive rather than methodological means (Nielson & Beaumont 2009). The consequential unreliability of ethnicity, resulting from diverse and converging practices, impacts on anthropological research due to problems identifying historical demographic groups, their size, the location of refugial areas, the extent of migration and gene flow, the extent of fragmentation, and the sequence of events leading to their genomic influence on the present geographic distribution of genotypes (Emerson & Hewitt 2005). Other issues with the reliability of genetic testing for phylogeography include: genetic ‘noise’, lack of sample groups for some ethnicities (such as Indigenous Australian), and established cultural preconceptions (Jobling et al. 2016). Researching genetic heritage is vital in understanding the roots of humanity and how humans have come to be who we are today. Furthermore, such research aids us to understand our traits, the origins of these traits, and the nature of heredity; which could potentially lead to the elimination of negative traits such as genetic diseases, disorders, and defects. Hence, the need to develop a reliable genetic test, in order to accurately research phylogeography, is important.

All of these issues regarding the interpretive method of genetic testing for phylogeographical purposes can be avoided by using a systematic approach. One such approach is the Nested Clade Phylogeographic Analysis (NCPA) designed by Alan Templeton, based on an earlier cladistics approach called the Nested Clade Analysis (NCA) (Nielson & Beaumont 2009). However, the NCPA was found by Knowles and Maddison (2002) to be inaccurate, due to Templeton’s inference key, which seems to neglect inference patterns that do not fit the key and often give incorrect inferences (Nielson & Beaumont 2009). Another line of research for phylogeography is based on coalescent theory and tools from computational statistics (Nielson & Beaumont 2009). Though, coalescent-based methods often have issues with models being too simple (Nielson & Beaumont 2009). Yet, if models of population histories could be constructed and tested to induce a scientific hypothesis of a single phylogeographic model with reduced interpretive inferences, resulting in a cohesive and shared genetic testing system, then genetic anthropological research would be greatly improved. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary to create a model which tests as much of the genome as possible, as Emerson and Hewitt (2005) state, one that includes “…nuclear, cytoplasmic, sex-linked, autosomal, conserved and neutral sequences, including examples with high and low mutation rates.” Thus, issues with the reliability of DNA testing for the identification and research of genetic heritage would be expelled.

 

Reference list:

Emerson, B.C & Hewitt, G.M. 2005. Phylogeography. Current Biology, 15(10): 367-371.

Jobling, M.A, Rasteiro, R., & Wetton, J.H. 2016. In the blood: the myth and reality of genetic markers of identity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39(2): 142-161.

Nielson, R. & Beaumont, M.A. 2009. Statistical inferences in phylogeography. Molecular Ecology, 18(6): 1034-1047.