Blair and Iraq

In an interview with Alister Campbell for GQ, Tony Blair interview with Alister Campbell for GQ, Tony Blair admits that his government did not have a grasp of the complex sectarian ethnic and religious divides in the country’s history.

In educating Mr. Blair this blog can recommend Barr’s Setting The Desert On Fire (2006) and Hulsman’s To Begin the World Over Again: Lawrence of Arabia from Damascus to Baghdad (2009) which cover some of the failures the British encountered the last time it attempted quasi-nation building in the region. 

In recognizing that he may not have time for such reading, as I am sure he is a busy man, he can alternatively watch Friedman’s analysis on the roots of sectarianism.

The anti-populist?

In 2016 populism became the favorite word of the press, the political establishment and the middle class supporters of liberalism. Their perception of the world is based upon the premise that the liberal world order is under threat from the popular backlash against immigration and free trade. Whilst this is often not a fair characterization of the ‘populists’ demands, it carries as an accepted theory in the broadcasting world at least.

The history of populism, whether it be present in Trump’s election or the vote to leave the European Union, is varied and seems to be distilled into three categories. Firstly, the right wing, ‘chauvinistic’ populism, apparent today in Trump but, as Prof. Ferguson notes, is traced back to Daniel Kearney. Secondly, the left wing form of populism present in Corbyn and Sanders in the UK and USA: its goals differ significantly since whilst both forms tend to proclaim protectionism, left wing populism often downplays social issues particularly immigration. A final form of populism, its most extreme, is surely what has been in play in parts of Eastern Europe. The rise of the Law and Justice Party in Poland as been built upon the precepts of a corrupt, political elite imposing social liberalism on the masses. However, its methods to counter act such change are fundamentally illiberal and not conservative.

Whilst the characterization, debates about the history of populism and fortune telling are interesting, perhaps those worried about the rise of populism could turn to the history of the anti-populist. If the populist is the demagogue who gives the people what they want, then the anti-populist disagrees and not only finds larger causal issues for the majorities’ issues, but also attacks their innocence as the oppressed stakeholder. The effective anti-populist is also aware of the role of the political establishment, not only in dealing with populism but in causing it to rise in the first place. Thus the effective anti-populist must adopt pragmatism and be willing to view the world as it is, not how they would like to see it.

The example that clearly comes to mind is Cato the Younger in his speech against Caesar during the Second Catiline Conspiracy. Whilst the speech does not deal with the issue of populism, only the punishment of its conspirators, the content and principles provide an interesting guide to the stabilization of politics.

His credentials are established by his immediate attack on the citizens of Rome saying, ‘I have complained about the extravagance and greed of our citizens.’ As Sallust has previously elaborated on, much of Catiline’s initial populism comes from the greed of Romans, both upper and lower class, meaning that there is substantial disenfranchisement and anger with the political classes. This theme of the failure of virtue is one that Sallust has elaborated on in his quasi-prologue to the Catiline Conspiracy but forms an interesting filter through which to understand how unrest can happen. This is partially because it affects both the elite and the lower orders thus meaning social and political cohesion suffers.

Cato goes on to elaborate that instead of the traditional virtuous wealth the Romans have ‘private wealth’. Thus Cato provides the example of the “good” anti-populist as he criticizes the elites in society as well. This could well lead to criticism of my characterization. However, the effective anti-populist must surely deal with the legitimate failings of the elite. Firstly, so as to provide a compromise with the disenfranchised but also so as to prevent future rises in populism. Furthermore, Cato promotes his reasoning through use of reason to persuade that his policy is that which is rooted in the tradition. Citing the sacrifices Torquatus he draws attention to the fact that the elites must also change since what made Rome good once, is severely lacking in the methods of the politicians.

Cato’s speech thus provides two critiques of the current political status quo which provide important lessons to times of chaos. His contention, in my view, is that the whole of society has failed. Both the upper and lower echelons have failed morally and given into selfish vices. Secondly, he argues not only that politicians have failed but that they cannot even agree on the correct way of dealing with the populists.

Applying such lessons to the world of 2017 will be a momentous task. Primarily the contradictions inherent in pursuance of policy that would please these two aspects would make it hard for a politician or party to ever enter office. The recognition of the failure of the elites and their failure in methods of dealing with populism, thus the small justification in populist outbursts, would make one unpopular with the political class who still have a hegemony on funding and infrastructure. Secondly, the condemnation of the expectations of populists inevitably leads one to fall out with the masses.

No doubt this will be a hard task for those who control the centre of the Conservative and Labour parties in Britain. Self awareness will take some time to come. However, the outlook Cato provides on the complex issues surrounding unrest and populism is still worth adopting when considering the current situation: some woes are justified, though some expectations are false and the elites have some accountability in this. In 2017, we can at least hope for some adoption of a nuanced view of politics.


Further reading and works cited

W. Batstone, William Sallust: Catiline’s Conspiracy Oxford University Press, 2010

Applebaum, Anne In Poland, a preview of what Trump could do to America Washington Post, Sept. 19th 2016

Ferguson, Niall Is the US having a populist moment? Boston Globe, Feb. 29th 2016

A history of Burke and the philosophy of foreign policy (Part 1)

Edmund Burke

Can a coherent policy of international relations be attributed to Edmund Burke? This is the task that one faces when arguing that, indeed a coherent policy can be found in his writing. Burke unlike other political philosophers and politicians does not make it easy: not many can say that they supported only one of the great revolutions of the 18th Century. As Monk notes in a review, this fueled the partisan approach to understanding Burke with the ire of William Hazlitt incurred for apparent hypocrisy. Hazlitt would not be the last either: Marx described Burke only as the ‘sycophant’, crudely reducing the complex debate of Reflections into a set of excuses for cynical motives. This part of the essay will analyse Burke’s own arguments surrounding the American War of Independence with the next part showing the continuity into the French Revolution.

Though Simms noted Burke’s first attacks on the foreign policy of the day being the Partition of Poland, he gives a brief account of his arguments against the British position in America. As the reader learns from previous attacks, Burke supported a fairly traditional Whig perspective of keeping Continental alliances so as to prevent a shift in the power balance of Europe. As was apparent by the Bourbons joining forces with the American colonists, this had failed drastically. In this context we see Burke emerge to criticize the use of German mercenaries as an ‘alliance of a few traders in human flesh.’ (Simms, pg. 609) This criticism of Britain’s reliance on George the Third’s position in Germany was in line with Burke’s other writings. He noted the gratitude at realizing the cause of the Americans with reference to them only fighting the ‘professional armies of Germany’ (Hart, pg. 222), perhaps reflecting his view of the injustice in the waging of the war.

Righteous indignation was apparently sidelined by Burke who favored the reconciliation between the colonists and the English in a speech he gave to Parliament. In this speech he talked of the need to ‘recollect’ since ‘whilst we are left naked on one side, our other flank is uncovered by any alliance.’ (Simms, pg. 634) His argument for reconciliation here raises two points. Firstly, that the end of the war must be brought about for the strategic purpose of protecting the nation from a European alliance. Secondly, he is arguing that right causes must be put aside so as to protect the country from a power which ‘threatened us with ruin.’ (Simms, pg. 634) Instead of the righteous rhetoric and ideological  principals that radicals stated Burke with for the freedom of the colonies, it seems instead that his his defense of the colonies was based on a realist’s analysis of the international state of Europe and the need to preserve the country he loved.

A cursory reading of Burke seems to reveal that there is no separation between his beliefs about America and those of France. It certainly contrasts with the radical liberalism that Paine espoused, one that Walker describes as being based on a vision ‘peaceful, democratic, and egalitarian societies interacting within a cosmopolitan international order based on reason and justice.’ (Walker, pp. 52) Burke’s criticisms of the war in the colonies was not based on vision but on reality; he realized that the problems in the colonies could lead to disaster in Europe. The overlapping of policy prescriptions thus, are not indicative of a shared ideology: realists and anti-imperialists could agree that the Iraq War was a disaster though they differ on principle. The tarnishing of Burke’s reputation was unfortunate and based on an optimistic reading of his speeches about the War of Independence. However, it also serves as an important warning for future men of letters to understand the views and principles for why those views are held, before entering into polemical attacks.




Hampsher-Monk, Iain (2015) How to Think Like Edmund Burke: Debating the Philosopher’s Complex Legacy, Foreign Affairs (January/February edition)

Hart, Jeffrey (1967) Burke and Radical Freedom The Review of Politics , Vol. 29, No. 2 (pp. 221-238), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Hitchens, Christopher (2004) Reactionary Prophet The Atlantic, (April edition)

Simms, Brendan (2008) Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire, 1714-1783 Penguin, London

Walker, Thomas C. (2000) The Forgotten Prophet: Tom Paine’s Cosmopolitanism and International Relations. International Studies Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 1, 2000, pp. 51–72.

A.J.P Taylor and Troublemakers

Though I have not had time to update the blog in the last few weeks, I have not forgotten about this space and hopefully I should have uploaded my essay on readings of Herodotus by Christmas Day.

However, I have to admit that I have recently become distracted from Herodotus after purchasing a copy of A.J.P Taylor’s The Trouble Makers: Dissent over Foreign Policy 1792-1939 from a small bookshop in Oxford. The book is essentially a series of lectures that details the changing values of radicals and their attitude to foreign policy in general. Having just finished his lecture on Gladstone, it is interesting to read that the attitudes towards our involvement in Europe have been based around a static set of arguments.

9780140225754-uk-300.jpg T.P.

Analysis of Herodotus: Book Nine

Herodotus’ concluding book ties all loose ends and draws the main part of the conflict between the Persians and the Greeks to a close. The reader not only learns of the widening differences between the Spartans and Athenians but also how Herodotus’ own views have shaped the text.


The Book begins with Mardonius, Xerxes’ second in command, desperately picking up the pieces of Xerxes’ failed invasion. This should not invoke sympathy, after all, he was responsible for urging Xerxes into fighting the war in the first place and he provided little tactical or strategic advice of any worth. We are reminded of his difficult position from the last book: he needs to please his King yet he is desperate not to be overthrown or defeated. Once again, Herodotus shows that the follies of man are often of their own causing; this is an interesting view from a man who accounts for the intervention of the Gods.

Mardonius is shown to make his next move on the Greeks by invading Attica for the second time and capturing Athens. However, like much of the Persian campaign, this is a superficial move this Athens has been evacuated and much of the sacred buildings previously burned and destroyed. Herodotus does not slander Mardonius or completely criticize his every move. He does attribute the delayed destruction of the Attic area due to Mardonius’ wish to be reasonable and reach a truce with the Athenians.

What makes him a truly failed leader is his inability to exploit the Greek weakness at this point: the division between Athenians and Spartans. These two factions have always had their divisions but with the wall across the Isthmus nearly built, the Spartans would have good reason to withdraw their troops and the Athenians would have to abandon any alliance. Instead, he marched his troops into Boeotia and attempts to build a wooden fortress. In some ways he improves upon his Persian predecessors. He has local support since many Boeotians have allied themselves to his cause. However, his action of rooting himself down in enemy territory appears to be reminiscent of Darius in Book Four in Scythia and symbolic of Mardonius’ lack of confidence in his military expedition.

Athens today

Battle of Plataea

The actual Battle of Plataea, which takes place after Mardonius leaves his wooden fortress, is not given pages upon pages of description. The lead up to the Battle is and many significant details can be gleaned in these observations. Both sides are shown to be superstitious and religious with both using diviners and the contents of intestines to determine when the battle should be fought. In the case of Mardonius this is revealed to be strategic since he uses it as a way of not engaging with the Spartans. However, in the case of the Spartans this is significant, partly  because they make greater use of diviners throughout Thucydides’ history as well. This also allows the Athenians and Spartans to be distinguished at this point since the Athenians do not make as much use of the diviners as the Spartans.

In the course of the preparation, the Athenians win over the right to lead the right flank from the Arcadians. I report this since it is significant as it shows the growing and developing relations between the Greek nations; a theme that becomes more important in the Peloponnesian Wars. In addition, it allows the Spartans and the Athenians to work in sync and use strategy to throw Mardonius’ army as they switch flanks before battle is met. Again, the Greeks win the battle due to their superior tactics. They use similar tactics and strategies to Thermopylae by leading the Persians away from the battle and then turning on them when they least expect it.

Much of what happened before at Plataea is repeated again through Mardonius this time. He argues with his Greek slave, much like Xerxes and Demaratus, about the tactics and warfare of the Greeks. Once again, it is the failure to understand the opponent which leads to their demise and Mardonius is slain. In reinforcing what I think is Herodotus’ view about history, Mardonius previously promised the Spartans their desert for Thermopylae; the Spartans ultimately get this. Therefore, it is personal failings and arrogance which cause defeat and loss. Herodotus seems to reinforce this by arguing that the war was ultimately going to be decided by the Persians. Here we see his judgement that history is decided upon the natural forces of men, their reason and ability to understand and not the Gods. Though he qualifies this by saying that Demeter’s shrine was not encroached upon because of her intervention in the battle preventing Persians from nearing it, this suggests his view of the Gods is that they interfere only in their matters. The majority of mankind’s history, it would seem Herodotus thinks, is decided by man.

The Spartan leader Pausanias is shown to have benefited from his victory at Plataea. He is described as being enriched by his victory. It is interesting that Herodotus does not mention later allegations of treachery that Pausanias will face and he is shown with a halo above his head when Herodotus describes how he refused to mutilate Mardonius’ corpse in revenge for Leonidas. I mention this because Thucydides does relate this in Book One of his work and thus it could show a differing opinion of the Spartans. More interesting is the meal Pausanias orders the Persian cook to prepare. In comparing the Persian’s lavish food to that of the dour Spartan food he mocks the Persians for wanting to invade Sparta. The tale’s importance really goes to relate back to Cyrus’s feast he held for the Persians before they fought the Medes. The original tale is Cyrus’s way of persuading the Persians to fight back so as to gain a lavish, material wealth. However, this shows how it has been perverted by Xerxes since they are now risking their Empire on an invasion in which they would gain very little. In many ways this shows how the Persians forgot reason in the pursuit of power and status.

Plataea today


Whilst the Plataean battle commences the Greeks sailed to Mycale to defeat the Persians. Herodotus does give more evidence of his beliefs on the divine here, stating that it must have been divine intervention which allowed the Greeks to fight in the same place at the same time. However, I think this comment is largely trivial: two events coinciding of such great importance will always attract attention and depending on how superstitious or religious one is, it will either be counted as religious or just coincidence. In the battle it self, Leotychidas, in order to secure the battle, uses Themistocles’ tactic of trying to persuade the Ionians on the shore to switch sides. It has a similar impact as it did at Artemisium. However, it is the Greek determination that wins the battle as the soldiers are described as ravaging the armies on the shore and burning the hall that others reside in to the ground.

After this event, one of the most important parts of Greek history happens: the formation of the Delian League. This happens when the Athenians, refusing to depopulate Ionia and seize colonies from Boeotian traitors, decide to ally themselves with other Ionians. This essentially ends the dominance of the Spartans over defining Ionia since the Athenians decide they are willing to be independent even if it means having to defend themselves against the Spartans. What is also puzzling is why Herodotus did not give more attention over to this event? It does seem strange as it will go on to dominate political and military events in the history to come (and in Herodotus’ own time). One could argue that he did not have the sources to comment on the events that occurred or perhaps he did not see them as relevant to the conflict between Persia and Greece. Perhaps equally as telling is how the Spartans do not decide to end the conflict with Persia by sailing to the Hellespont. Strategic explanations have been offered by Kagan, who hypothesized that this was because they had to return to Sparta to prevent either a helot or Argive attack. However, symbolically it shows the conservative retreat the Spartans would make and the Athenian’s forward approach to affairs.

Before Herodotus ends his History he recounts how Xerxes had lusted after different people’s wives and how he had tried to secure their love. This anecdote confirms certain elements of Xerxes’ character already previously known, such as indecisiveness. However, I think it serves another purpose and that it must since it is placed, rather peculiarly, after Xerxes has exited the History. His infidelity and lust after women does bear some similarity to Candaules’ behavior in Book One such as trying to arrange manipulations of women. Many times in the history, women are recounted to be the cause of issues for leaders and this now seems to show that being sexually immoral is indicative of a greater character flaw. This seems true in the present times with politicians who are caught adulterating often being fraudulent and corrupt in other ways.

Returning to the final pages of the History, Herodotus recounts how the Athenians under Xanthippus crucified Arctyates and stoned his son to death in front of him. The Athenians, we are told, then dismantled the bridge and offered the materials to their gods in temples. The ending here of the Athenian’s history is unbelievably bloody and barbaric. This goes to challenge any reader who believes Herodotus was a pusher of the ‘clash of civilizations’ esque argument. His final remarks concern Cyrus. This is the conclusive proof that his History was written with specific purposes and hypotheses in mind. Cyrus’s words seem to indicate that the Persians should be weary of expansion and invading other lands because of the nature of the people’s on them, he ultimately encourages them to remain masters of what they own. I believe Herodotus’ message extends beyond this. His history stands testament to what can be known about the history of other peoples. I think this inclusion thus is a mockery of the Persians as it offers a misunderstood reason for they could lose and be conquered as slaves.



Herodotus sets out in Book One to investigate the causes of why things happen and why things are the way they are. He calls his work an investigation and something to be prized throughout the ages. In Book One this may seem like pompous talk, but by Book Nine his purpose has been fully realized: the investigation is a prize in of itself as it not only presents findings but the method and reason for making those findings in the first place. Above all Herodotus documents the failure of humans to reason and to think. Too often people of all races and nations resort to base emotions of anger, jealousy and fear. Herodotus’ history shows the value that a scientific study of the world can have and that all details are relevant. For those who think Herodotus is the ‘Father of lies’ or unscientific, they are mistaken: Herodotus defines the study of history.



Lecture by Dr. Dominic Sandbrook

Last week I attended Dr. Sandbrook’s lecture on the 1980s at QMUL’s Public History Unit. His discussion predominantly focused on how food provided an insight into the change of the 1980s. Interestingly, he picked up on how Thatcher symbolized the idea of material progress, and how in many ways this was un-conservative of her; a fact nobody on the left is willing to concede. Overall, he concluded that Thatcher was not important to much of the cultural change of the 1980s, with the backlog of the 1970s making it an inevitability that change had to come.


Analysis of Herodotus: Book Eight

The war between the Persians and Greeks only intensifies in the second last Book of Herodotus’ history: this is the Book in which the prevailing forces of the Persians are finally reversed with their navy left defeated and their king in fear of the consequences. In addition, this Book highlights further the differences between Athens and Sparta as it establishes the conservative mindset of the Spartan people.

Artemisium and Salamis

As the Persians moved their forces to fight the Greeks at Artemisium it was the strategy of the Greeks which ensured their victory. This was especially vital since the Greeks were hopelessly outnumbered. Though Herodotus does give some figures pertaining to the number of Persian ships and sailors, these do seem far fetched. Once again it was Themistocles who provided much of the cunning strategy. According to Herodotus he left a message to the Ionians serving with Xerxes, which included some Carians, with the purpose of trying to separate them from the bulk of the Persian force. Herodotus notes the effectiveness of the strategy since it is clear that even if they had not switched sides, Xerxes would fear such actions and thus would prevent them from serving in the battles.



Once again it is the supposed strengths of the Persians which turn out to be their ruin. In conventional warfare, it may seem wise to utilize the largest number of ships in a battle, especially when these far outnumber your opponent. However, this backfired on Xerxes since the smaller force of the Greeks could easily outmaneuver their ships and this caused crashes and rendered their navy useless. Furthermore, Xerxes’ arrogance and incompetency is proved beyond doubt by the poor quality of his force. Herodotus reveals that many of the marines and sailors were in fact unable to swim properly. This was of course a disastrous oversight of Xerxes and therefore reinforces my analysis of Book Seven since he failed to properly think about the invasion. The juxtaposition between leader and military in Book Seven seems all the more clear and it seems as though Herodotus is noting that magnitude and power of a civilization is no testimony to their intelligence or worth. One could take this further. Xerxes is mockingly described as Zeus by one of the Greeks at the Hellespont in Book Seven. Xerxes’ earthly power is obviously perceived by himself to be indicative of the power of the Gods. Herodotus is showing that the link between earthly power and the religious is non-existent and a false construction. This relates back to my analysis of Book Four as the Scythians answer only to Zeus and Hera and appear more skeptical of the power of man.

Xerxes continues this trend of unholiness and reacts in his way by having Athens burned with its temples destroyed. This is a disproportionate action in response to his own defeat, and thus insinuating of his dictatorial character.More importantly in this passage, is what we learn of the Athenians. They, the Athenians, abandon their city and are willing to give up their homes. This seems to suggest that their view of the polis is centered on the survival of their nation as a people and that they are a pragmatic people who are willing to make short term sacrifices in order to gain in the long term. This is not that unsurprising since Herodotus points out in Book One that many of the Ionians abandoned their homes such as the Carians and the Xanthians. Though it is odd given that the Athenians’ unique claim is that they are supposedly the only Greeks who have lived on their land for an eternity and thus have a unique connection.

All of this contrasts with the reaction of the Spartans. Though their land has not yet been ravaged by the Persians they worry far more about their state of affairs. For example they begin to build a wall to defend the Isthmus against the threat of the Persians. Further to, they also suggest that they will return to Sparta to defend, giving the Athenians a headache over getting them to defend Salamis and engage in a final naval battle. In defense of the Spartans, Herodotus does mention repeatedly the sacrifice they made in Book Seven in fighting at Thermopylae and thus they do deserve some credit and a diluted criticism. Though this does present a divide between the Spartans and the Athenians: the Spartans are so deeply connected to their way of life and land that they will not make a basic sacrifice for the greater survival of the Hellenic peoples, whilst the Athenians have given up their ancient city. However, once again this must be tempered; after all, the Athenians had colonies in Italy which they could have moved to and thus were just as willing to surrender the cause of the Hellenes.

The pragmatic leadership of Themistocles, according to Herodotus, is the cause of a second union between the two nations and the defeat of the Persians again. According to Herodotus, the Athenian used a messenger to alert Xerxes to their position and encourage a naval battle by admitting that the forces are divided. Ironically, Xerxes acting on this advice brings greater unity to the Greek forces and thus the defeat of Xerxes. This reinforces the reader’s image of Xerxes: he acts on advice from a Greek without questioning the ulterior motive of the Greeks. This is of course an obvious action in the course of war. Furthermore, he ignores Artemisia’s advice  with regards to the defeat of the Greeks. She correctly points out the need to destroy the Spartans and the method of creating fractious alliances: by invading Sparta. This, the reader knows from the debates, would lead to the Spartans abandoning the Athenians cause and sailing back. As an evaluative point, I would like to reinforce Herodotus’ characterization of Themistocles. By recounting the events Thucydides presents in his first Book, when Themistocles betrays the Spartans over the building of the Athenian walls, he shows that Themistocles was a pragmatic, if at times, cynical and expedient leader.

As one would expect, the Persians are defeated at Salamis as well. They had not learned from their previous encounters with the Greeks and Xerxes’ poor leadership has not helped. This is perhaps best signified when he mistakenly thinks that Artemisia’s ramming of a Persian ship was an act of valor. This reveals Xerxes has no understanding of the inner workings of those around him. This has been established previously; his uncle fails to convey to him the extent of Mardonius’ ambitions and his adviser, Demaratus, had warned the Spartans of the invasion. The political figure of Xerxes can now be called into question as well. It appears that like all the previous Persian kings, they are politically shrewd when obtaining power and useless at managing power when they have it. It is thus no surprise when Xerxes heeds the advice of Artemisia and flees to the Hellespont.

Kaulbach,_Wilhelm_von_-_Die_Seeschlacht_bei_Salamis_-_1868 (2).JPG
Battle of Salamis by Wilhelm von Kaulbach

Another rift occurs between the Athenians and Spartans over the conclusion of the battle since the Athenians wanted to pursue Xerxes. This is tactically used by Themistocles who tries to convince Xerxes that he was the one who let him go. Unlike few of the people Herodotus discusses he thinks about possibility that the Athenians will turn on him and exile him. Importantly he understands how treacherous the Greeks can be and the selfishness of human nature. However, one who has read Thucydides may question whether Themistocles has read the nature of the Athenians, or whether his eventual ostracism will be the result of a culture of pragmatism and selfishness that he has encouraged.

The final debate

The final part of Book Eight relates how Alexander of Macedon is used by the Persians to deliver a message offering a truce between the Persians and the Athenians. The political structure of Cyrus and Darius is showed to have been continued with the use of stooges and despots in the countries dominated by the Persians. Once again the Persians are shown to have little understanding of their enemy since they underestimate how much freedom is worth to the Athenians. The Athenians value their freedom above all else. Regardless, this is a fact that could be ascertained by simple logic. The Athenians chose to rebel and aid their fellow Ionians, they chose not to give Earth and Water to Darius and they chose to fight at Marathon regardless of their numbers and resources.

Interestingly, the Spartans take a realist approach and regardless of the feud before Salamis offer, and their hesitation in providing an army for a campaign in Boeotia, they step in to provide aid and assistance. The Athenians thank Spartans but reassert their love of freedom and refuse their aid. This does seem to be a point at which the Athenians are willing to distinguish themselves and gain their independence as quickly as possible. This is supported by the fact that Book Five dealt with their rebellion and it is made clear that the Spartans were a threat to the Athenians. In addition, they also chastise Spartans for retreating and not offering troops for Boeotia campaign


Book Eight consolidates much of what was established in Book Seven with regards to the failings of Xerxes. Again, it reinforces the need for the study of history in understanding one’s enemy. One could question my thesis here: a reader may ask, where was the Spartan understanding of the Persians? Where was the Athenian understanding? Whilst there is no open acknowledgement of their enemy, there are two pieces of rebuttal to this point. Firstly, the Athenians were on the back-foot and defending their own land, thus they have the knowledge to utilize as they choose Artemisium and Salamis as their positions to fight at. Secondly, their awareness of the size of the Persian fleet and their use of this against them at Artemisium is evidence of their use of knowledge. Importantly, they think rationally and do not rely purely on material strength. As previously stated, the Book establishes the differences between the two main nations of Sparta and Athens. Many points in their unity thus also serve as points of clash in the decades to come.