Friday, January 04, 2008

My Meme Challenge

I have been tagged for a meme. I don't get tagged very often, so it's always a little exciting.

This meme involves listing seven interesting or weird facts about a historical figure. I chose Pausanias, nephew of King Leonidas and one of Sparta's most contraversial kings.

1) Pausanias was the nephew of Sparta's most famous soldier-king Leonidas (one of the heroes of Thermopylai). His father Prince Cleombrotus was king only for a short time before dying of an illness. Cleombrotus may have been Leonidas' twin.

2) Pausanias was an Agiad, one of the two royal families of Sparta. The Agiad was considered the "older house," and may have had more power and authority than the Eurypontid. The two houses had a bit of a rivalry.

3) Pausanias was the general at the decisive battle at Platea (479 BCE).

4) In the spring of 478, Pausanias led a Greek expeditionary force first to Cyprus and then to Byzantium. He was the first Spartan king to fight outside of Hellas (Greece) since the Dorian invasion.

5) It was an important campaign, but Pausanias lost authority when rumors were spread that he wanted to collaborate with the Persians. He was recalled by the Spartan authorities to stand trial but was found not guilty. Later he would return to Byzantium but was recalled again and put on trial for helping to instigate a helot revolt. Again he was found not guilty.

6) After nearly ten years of contraversial actions Pasuanias would have to flee from his many enemies at home and take sanctuary in a temple. The Spartans barricaded the temple and starved Pausanias to death (though they dragged him out just before he died so he would not pollute the shrine).

7) Thucydides' account completely contradicts Herodotus' account of Pausanias. In the former, Pausanias is arrogant and ambitious, in the latter he is a typical Spartan general who is capable of great mercy and has no taste for Persian luxeries. Talk about polar opposites!

In my story I try to reconcile the two versions of Pausanias found in Thucydides and Herodotus. I do so by stressing that Pausanias is young and is given the crushing responsibility of kingship during wartime, something he is not ready for. He is also forced to live up to an impressive list famous relatives. His grandfather King Anaxandrides helped lead the Spartans to victory over Tegea, his uncle Cleomenes was Sparta's most influential king (and the most contraversial), and of course his uncle Leonidas lead three hundred Spartans to a glorious end at the Hot Gates. Pausanias also has to contend with a much older and very bitter king. All of this compounds his determination to not only make Sparta victorious, but to be remembered as a great Spartan like the Agiad before him.

I tag anyone who wants to play along. This meme is a lot of fun!


Carla said...

Great post! I was thinking of inviting you to play, as I thought you'd have some interesting figures from Owl and Eagle, but you beat me to it!

Wynn Bexton said...

Well done, and very interesting!

Gabriele Campbell said...

Ouch, that's a nasty way to end one's life.

Aren't contradictory sources fun? ;)