Sunday, August 03, 2003

The Spartans Come to PBS

Explore "the birth of the unique Spartan social system. Militaristic, communal and disciplined, the state enforces eugenics and euthanasia. Priests decide which babies should live and which should be left to die. Seven-year-old boys are forced to fend for themselves on the harsh mountainside. Policed by secret spies, the society is supported by a nation of slaves. "

But, Sparta’s women are "liberated, independent, opinionated, they take an active part in sport, race horses and chariots, celebrate nudity and wield power in the absence of their men."

Sparta eventually defeats Athens and assumes the reins of empire. "But under the fascinating, flawed King Agesilaus, the dreams of the Spartan utopia come crashing down. By setting out to create a perfect society protected by perfect warriors, Sparta makes an enemy of change. A collapsing birth rate, too few warriors, rebellious slaves and outdated attitudes to weaponry and warfare combine to sow the seeds of Sparta’s destruction, until eventually the once-great warrior state is reduced to a stop for Roman tourists who came to view bizarre sadomasochistic rituals. "