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Thread: What factors allowed Greek civilization to flourish?

  1. #1 What factors allowed Greek civilization to flourish? 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    The ancient greeks are among the best known of ancient civilizations, with acheivements in Science as well as arts and litterature, known for its philosophers.

    What are the factors that allowed the civilization to nurture individuals that would greatly advance math, science, etc. How were the greek states different (if at all) from other kingdoms all across the world?


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    Access to adequate food, water, and shelter is a start. If you spend your whole day trying to figure out how to survive and find food, you really don't have a lot of time to think about things like math and philosophy. I'm thinking "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" here. Obviously, the greek culture was setup in such a way that the needs at the base of the pyramid were satisfied, allowing time and energy at the higher levels.

    How they did it differently than other cultures? I'm really unsure. Sometimes in history we just naturally reach certain inflection points, where there is a confluence of variables which allow for great things to happen.


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    A lot of stuff that is credited to Greek civilization should really be credited to Athens during the brief period between the unified Greece's defeat of the Persians and the eventual sacking and dismantling of Athens by Sparta 200 years later followed by the rise of Alexander the Great

    During this period Athens was led by an elitist Democracy that for various religious and cultural reasons valued the search for knowledge. This allowed philosophical and artistic endeavors to flourish under the patronage of the Athenian elite. Much like how art, science and philosophy flourished under the patronage of the Italian city states during the Renaissance.

    Mathematics came much earlier and a lot of it is built on ideas taken from Persians.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Access to adequate food, water, and shelter is a start. If you spend your whole day trying to figure out how to survive and find food, you really don't have a lot of time to think about things like math and philosophy. I'm thinking "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" here. Obviously, the greek culture was setup in such a way that the needs at the base of the pyramid were satisfied, allowing time and energy at the higher levels.

    How they did it differently than other cultures? I'm really unsure. Sometimes in history we just naturally reach certain inflection points, where there is a confluence of variables which allow for great things to happen.
    Don't forget security.

    Greek military strategy centered quite a lot on the citizen warrior, obviating the need for a large standing army, which would leave a lot of resources available for other things. Political power would focus less on the ability of the government to impose its will on the people through force of arms, and more on imposing its will through the power of persuasion. The contender with the most articulate arguers backing him wins, instead of the one with the meanest thugs backing him. And... apparently that setup kind of backfired later in their history.

    http://www.helium.com/items/840219-g...ncient-history
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  6. #5 Re: What factors allowed Greek civilization to flourish? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    The ancient greeks are among the best known of ancient civilizations, with acheivements in Science as well as arts and litterature, known for its philosophers.

    What are the factors that allowed the civilization to nurture individuals that would greatly advance math, science, etc. How were the greek states different (if at all) from other kingdoms all across the world?
    As often with "classical" things, what is read as being inherent in the original has as much to do with the layers of packaging as it does with the circumstance of the origination. If you're taking about "the Greeks" you're really talking about fifth century Athens as repackaged by the post-Alexander-the-Great world dominated by an elite that valued Attic affectations above anything else, because thats' the world where claiming "Greekness" (Hellenism actually) ha a lot of political meaning versus say claiming to be Dacian or Scythian or Keltic or Persian or Egyptian. This Alexandrian Hellenism was repeatedly repackaged as valuable by everyone from the Romans to the Byzantines to the 19th Century Germans.
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  7. #6 Re: What factors allowed Greek civilization to flourish? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Boyd
    As often with "classical" things, what is read as being inherent in the original has as much to do with the layers of packaging as it does with the circumstance of the origination. If you're taking about "the Greeks" you're really talking about fifth century Athens as repackaged by the post-Alexander-the-Great world dominated by an elite that valued Attic affectations above anything else, because thats' the world where claiming "Greekness" (Hellenism actually) ha a lot of political meaning versus say claiming to be Dacian or Scythian or Keltic or Persian or Egyptian. This Alexandrian Hellenism was repeatedly repackaged as valuable by everyone from the Romans to the Byzantines to the 19th Century Germans.
    Very well said.
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    Sadly, slavery was a factor. Keeping slaves was widespread and supported the leisure class. The average hours of work per day to support a family was considerable. Just growing enough food took enormous effort. However, if you have a bunch of slaves working 16 hours per day, the owners can lead a more leisurely life with time for philosophy etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Just growing enough food took enormous effort.
    I was going to say the opposite. The Greeks have always been a fishing people, and we're looking at a time when Greek waters produced an inexhaustible abundance of excellent fat and protein plus a suite of vitamins other nations would envy if they understood such things. Yeah it cost a lot to keep a bull in Greece, but that was a luxury to Greeks just as eating oysters is a luxury to most of us. To borrow a few Tlingit sayings: "When the tide goes out the table is set", and, "You have to be an idiot to starve." Such food security beats dependence on grain stores and livestock hands down. Then add to this an efficient fishing fleet and harvesting enough food takes little effort.
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    An account of agriculture in ancient Greece can be read at :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricul...ancient_Greece

    The staple foods were barley, wheat, olives, grapes, and assorted vegetables. Meat was not so important for most Greeks. They lacked technology, even plowing (mostly) with a wooden plow. The poor soils meant production was low, and much labour was required to wrest even that.

    An account of slavery is found at :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_ancient_Greece

    This makes it clear that slaves were mostly used in agriculture.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Sadly, slavery was a factor. Keeping slaves was widespread and supported the leisure class. The average hours of work per day to support a family was considerable. Just growing enough food took enormous effort. However, if you have a bunch of slaves working 16 hours per day, the owners can lead a more leisurely life with time for philosophy etc.
    Do you know if any ancient Greeks spoke out/wrote against slavery? It seems amazing to me that the brightest thinkers of the time wouldn't see how evil it was. Or maybe they were afraid to speak out?
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    I'm sorry to labour a tangent, Skeptic, but that wiki addresses agriculture not diet. Admittedly all the dietary info I can find elsewhere assumes that what was celebrated in art and literature was what "the Greeks" ate. However aristocracy of all nations are notorious for shunning whatever foods their local peasants happen to live on. If "the Greeks" means those with slaves and cooks, I'm quite sure they ate differently than the nobodies lining the coastlines.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Sadly, slavery was a factor. Keeping slaves was widespread and supported the leisure class. The average hours of work per day to support a family was considerable. Just growing enough food took enormous effort. However, if you have a bunch of slaves working 16 hours per day, the owners can lead a more leisurely life with time for philosophy etc.
    The existence of slavery isn't a necessity, just an existence of an upper and lower class. To link it back to the Italian city states, slavery didn't play a large part, but the vast wealth of the merchant class built on trading ventures made a big divide between them and the peasants/tradesmen as well as the nobility. That's why many of those cities became merchant republics and elected princedoms. In many ways the intellectuals of the renaissance were practically slaves themselves.

    As to scholars speaking out against slavery, considering the variety of human thought it would be unlikely that there was no one who spoke out against it, but the major records we have seem to support it. Most of the philosophy we have about it, coming from Aristotle, is more a justification of slavery. However, the existence of writing justifying slavery seems, at least to me, to suggest that there must have been dissenting opinion as well. Otherwise, I don't think Aristotle would have bothered to "preach to the choir." Greeks believed in a Tautological world order, from Gods to humans to animals. Thus, the idea of hierarchy was built into their world view and lent itself well to a support of slavery. The idea of all men being created equal won't appear until 2000 years after Aristotle.
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    To tired and sleepy

    You really cannot compare ancient Greek and renaissance cultures. The ancients had a much more limited technology. For example : they still used bronze far more than iron, and their main material for tools etc was wood. Plowing with a wooden spike as opposed to a solid iron blade is massively different. The amount of labour required was very substantially higher. Try digging your garden with a wooden spade, as the ancient Greeks did, if you cannot understand this point!

    My references suggest there were more slaves than free men in ancient Greece. To suggest that this was not a massive factor in their economics is disingenuous. Slavery has always been a method of releasing the wealthy from labour. (and providing concubines who cannot complain, or leave).
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    To tired and sleepy

    You really cannot compare ancient Greek and renaissance cultures. The ancients had a much more limited technology. For example : they still used bronze far more than iron, and their main material for tools etc was wood. Plowing with a wooden spike as opposed to a solid iron blade is massively different. The amount of labour required was very substantially higher. Try digging your garden with a wooden spade, as the ancient Greeks did, if you cannot understand this point!

    My references suggest there were more slaves than free men in ancient Greece. To suggest that this was not a massive factor in their economics is disingenuous. Slavery has always been a method of releasing the wealthy from labour. (and providing concubines who cannot complain, or leave).
    I didn't say it wasn't a major factor, I was just saying that all you need is an upper and a lower class. It makes very little difference if the lower class is a slave who works for food, or a medieval serf who owns a portion of the food he produces.

    The renaissance culture is a great comparison because it was a competitive collection of city states controlled by a small group of elites, just like the ancient Greeks. Also, both cultures resulted in relatively huge scientific, philosophical, and artistic outputs.

    edit: Serfdom is practically modified slavery anyway.
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  16. #15 Re: What factors allowed Greek civilization to flourish? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    The ancient greeks are among the best known of ancient civilizations, with acheivements in Science as well as arts and litterature, known for its philosophers.

    What are the factors that allowed the civilization to nurture individuals that would greatly advance math, science, etc. How were the greek states different (if at all) from other kingdoms all across the world?


    REPLY: Their ability to fight and prevail in the wars of that era. Their defeat of the Persian empire and Alexander`s conquests. This all fits right in to my theory of the cultural evolution of mankind resulting in the all but universal neurosis of our species. These abilities required of combatants are not innate or natural, they are a perversion of many powerful natural instincts. To endure great pain and not run when faced with extreme danger requires training that perverts those trained in such ways. Natural, healthy minded peoples always lose when faced by foes whose soldiers are trained so as to ignore their natural instincts for survival. The Spartans exemplified this perversion to such a degree that the name SPARTAN is synonymous with such traits to this day. ...Dr.Syntax
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    To endure great pain and not run when faced with extreme danger requires training that perverts those trained in such ways.
    No it doesn't. What do you base this on?

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    The Spartans exemplified this perversion to such a degree that the name SPARTAN is synonymous with such traits to this day
    Popular culture's depiction of Spartan soldiers is a bit over-flattering. They were somewhat unique in the region because they were professional soldiers but that alone does not make one the superhuman Rambo-esqu figure seen in movies like "300". Professional soldiers are common today and might be compared, to a degree.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    To endure great pain and not run when faced with extreme danger requires training that perverts those trained in such ways.
    No it doesn't. What do you base this on?

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    The Spartans exemplified this perversion to such a degree that the name SPARTAN is synonymous with such traits to this day
    Popular culture's depiction of Spartan soldiers is a bit over-flattering. They were somewhat unique in the region because they were professional soldiers but that alone does not make one the superhuman Rambo-esqu figure seen in movies like "300". Professional soldiers are common today and might be compared, to a degree.

    REPLY: Four years of service in the USMC. Two tours of duty in VIET NAM Jan 1968 -july 1969 with 4 months of for getting gut shot for starters
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    To endure great pain and not run when faced with extreme danger requires training that perverts those trained in such ways.
    No it doesn't. What do you base this on?

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    The Spartans exemplified this perversion to such a degree that the name SPARTAN is synonymous with such traits to this day
    Popular culture's depiction of Spartan soldiers is a bit over-flattering. They were somewhat unique in the region because they were professional soldiers but that alone does not make one the superhuman Rambo-esqu figure seen in movies like "300". Professional soldiers are common today and might be compared, to a degree.
    REPLY: Have you ever read of just what Spartan culture was all about. The boys were separated from there families at age 7. The were taught to be the meanest people imaginable which included a bunch of getting screwed by their instructors, literally. You ask for answers you will get them from me. Make sure you want the truth. And it went far beyond that. These young boys and men were trained to be incredibly cruel. Have you not read the history ? ...Dr.Syntax
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    To endure great pain and not run when faced with extreme danger requires training that perverts those trained in such ways.
    I'm curious. Does this "perversion" also apply to firefighters?
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    I still take issue with the sweeping statement suggesting that this sort of training perverts soldiers or leads to any sort of "societal neurosis". I definitely don't think my training has affected me in this manner.

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    Have you ever read of just what Spartan culture was all about. The boys were separated from there families at age 7. The were taught to be the meanest people imaginable which included a bunch of getting screwed by their instructors, literally. You ask for answers you will get them from me. Make sure you want the truth. And it went far beyond that. These young boys and men were trained to be incredibly cruel. Have you not read the history ?
    Yes, these are not shocking revelations. I am well familiar with the Spartan fighting schools and am of the opinion that popular culture has cherry-picked the most outrageous stories of Spartan life, and left out that of the common soldier. Spartan soldiers were susceptible to the same flaws all soldiers are. They fled and surrendered in battle and they lost fair engagements from time to time. They're just people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Yes, these are not shocking revelations. I am well familiar with the Spartan fighting schools and am of the opinion that popular culture has cherry-picked the most outrageous stories of Spartan life, and left out that of the common soldier. Spartan soldiers were susceptible to the same flaws all soldiers are. They fled and surrendered in battle and they lost fair engagements from time to time. They're just people.
    To put this into perspective, it took the Spartans 26 years to defeat the Athenians in the Peloponnesian war. Obviously, they won in the long run, but the Athenians couldn't have lost every battle if they lasted that many years.
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    One thing that is often forgotten about Sparta is the degree to which they used slaves, or helots. These unfortunates did pretty much all the work. This created another problem for the Spartans. When you have so many slaves, most of whom are utterly unhappy with their lot, there is a very big risk of slave revolt. All that is needed is one charismatic leader for the slaves. The Spartans actually had little choice. They had to be by far the best soldiers in order to suppress the slaves and prevent revolt.
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  24. #23 I never intended to idealize the spartans. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    I still take issue with the sweeping statement suggesting that this sort of training perverts soldiers or leads to any sort of "societal neurosis". I definitely don't think my training has affected me in this manner.

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    Have you ever read of just what Spartan culture was all about. The boys were separated from there families at age 7. The were taught to be the meanest people imaginable which included a bunch of getting screwed by their instructors, literally. You ask for answers you will get them from me. Make sure you want the truth. And it went far beyond that. These young boys and men were trained to be incredibly cruel. Have you not read the history ?
    Yes, these are not shocking revelations. I am well familiar with the Spartan fighting schools and am of the opinion that popular culture has cherry-picked the most outrageous stories of Spartan life, and left out that of the common soldier. Spartan soldiers were susceptible to the same flaws all soldiers are. They fled and surrendered in battle and they lost fair engagements from time to time. They're just people.
    REPLY: It was never my intention to idealize the SPARTANS. I just want to be clear about that. I am NOT saying you inferred that I was. As fascinated as I am with the history of warfare, I find it all very tragic really. I was myself involved in a good bit of it, fighting and killing people, got injured very badly myself. In fact I have written what I consider to be an Original to me Concept or Theory about how the CULTURAL EVOLUTION OF MANKIND HAS LED TO THE ALL BUT UNIVERSAL NEUROSIS OF OUR SPECIES. This is because warlike peoples who train their young men in the ways of war win out against peaceful, sane, non-neurotic peoples throughout history. And that out of necessity these warlike peoples brutalize their young men in ways that ensures neurosis throughout their entire societies. That`s the basic idea of my little theory. ...Dr.Syntax
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    I'm not even sure Spartan's were all that violent, a lot of the information we have about Sparta comes from Athenian writers talking about how shitty the Spartans are (Especially Aristotle's writing which comes from a post conquered Athens). The Athenians were equally adept soldiers, and especially adept sailors. For all their talk about equality and condemning the Spartan's as warlike, nothing stopped the Athenians from slaughtering the Milosians. Moreover, even Athens had a 30% slave population. Ancient Greece was a time of relatively constant war, with a huge and powerful unified Persian empire nearby for most of that time, no city state would survive without the ability to field a functional army.

    In a time when losing a war usually meant death, not occupation, you had to know how to fight a war.
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  26. #25 Re: What factors allowed Greek civilization to flourish? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    The ancient greeks are among the best known of ancient civilizations, with acheivements in Science as well as arts and litterature, known for its philosophers.

    What are the factors that allowed the civilization to nurture individuals that would greatly advance math, science, etc. How were the greek states different (if at all) from other kingdoms all across the world?
    REPLY: Their ability to fight and prevail in the wars of that era. Their defeat of the Persian empire and Alexander`s conquests. This all fits right in to my theory of the cultural evolution of mankind resulting in the all but universal neurosis of our species. These abilities required of combatants are not innate or natural, they are a perversion of many powerful natural instincts. To endure great pain and not run when faced with extreme danger requires training that perverts those trained in such ways. Natural, healthy minded peoples always lose when faced by foes whose soldiers are trained so as to ignore their natural instincts for survival. The Spartans exemplified this perversion to such a degree that the name SPARTAN is synonymous with such traits to this day. ...Dr.Syntax
    Does this also describe your view of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? I would personally agree, though it probably doesn't mean very much coming from someone who's never been a soldier. I think war is a bloody business, so you've got to think bloody if you want to win.

    However: when talking with Khukri, you have to remember he's a medic. One of my best friends in college was an Army medic, and we actually had this discussion once. A medic who allows them self to suppress all empathy, like what you're describing, would become very bad at their job. The things that motivate them to do the dangerous things they do are the perfect opposite of what motivates a suicide bomber.

    One version of Spartan conditioning, which I've heard described, is that they actually loved each other (sometimes homosexually). None of the Spartans in a unit would dare break the line while their comrades were still standing. Maybe they loved each other too much to abandon each other.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    Have you ever read of just what Spartan culture was all about. The boys were separated from there families at age 7. The were taught to be the meanest people imaginable which included a bunch of getting screwed by their instructors, literally. You ask for answers you will get them from me. Make sure you want the truth. And it went far beyond that. These young boys and men were trained to be incredibly cruel. Have you not read the history ?
    Yes, these are not shocking revelations. I am well familiar with the Spartan fighting schools and am of the opinion that popular culture has cherry-picked the most outrageous stories of Spartan life, and left out that of the common soldier. Spartan soldiers were susceptible to the same flaws all soldiers are. They fled and surrendered in battle and they lost fair engagements from time to time. They're just people.
    Probably the Spartans cherry picked which stories they wanted to spread around as well, in order to make the rest of the civilized world afraid of them. And then you've got their descendants embellishing... I totally agree with the way you humanize them in these discussions.

    What would you say about modern day units like Delta Force? Do you think they're a little bit embellished as well? I think certain parts of "Black Hawk Down" and the story of the "300" (not the movie version) are fairly comparable accounts. In either case, I have no idea how accurate the account would seem from the perspective of someone who had been there.
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  27. #26 Re: What factors allowed Greek civilization to flourish? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    The ancient greeks are among the best known of ancient civilizations, with acheivements in Science as well as arts and litterature, known for its philosophers.

    What are the factors that allowed the civilization to nurture individuals that would greatly advance math, science, etc. How were the greek states different (if at all) from other kingdoms all across the world?
    REPLY: Their ability to fight and prevail in the wars of that era. Their defeat of the Persian empire and Alexander`s conquests. This all fits right in to my theory of the cultural evolution of mankind resulting in the all but universal neurosis of our species. These abilities required of combatants are not innate or natural, they are a perversion of many powerful natural instincts. To endure great pain and not run when faced with extreme danger requires training that perverts those trained in such ways. Natural, healthy minded peoples always lose when faced by foes whose soldiers are trained so as to ignore their natural instincts for survival. The Spartans exemplified this perversion to such a degree that the name SPARTAN is synonymous with such traits to this day. ...Dr.Syntax
    Does this also describe your view of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? I would personally agree, though it probably doesn't mean very much coming from someone who's never been a soldier. I think war is a bloody business, so you've got to think bloody if you want to win.

    However: when talking with Khukri, you have to remember he's a medic. One of my best friends in college was an Army medic, and we actually had this discussion once. A medic who allows them self to suppress all empathy, like what you're describing, would become very bad at their job. The things that motivate them to do the dangerous things they do are the perfect opposite of what motivates a suicide bomber.

    One version of Spartan conditioning, which I've heard described, is that they actually loved each other (sometimes homosexually). None of the Spartans in a unit would dare break the line while their comrades were still standing. Maybe they loved each other too much to abandon each other.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    Have you ever read of just what Spartan culture was all about. The boys were separated from there families at age 7. The were taught to be the meanest people imaginable which included a bunch of getting screwed by their instructors, literally. You ask for answers you will get them from me. Make sure you want the truth. And it went far beyond that. These young boys and men were trained to be incredibly cruel. Have you not read the history ?
    Yes, these are not shocking revelations. I am well familiar with the Spartan fighting schools and am of the opinion that popular culture has cherry-picked the most outrageous stories of Spartan life, and left out that of the common soldier. Spartan soldiers were susceptible to the same flaws all soldiers are. They fled and surrendered in battle and they lost fair engagements from time to time. They're just people.
    Probably the Spartans cherry picked which stories they wanted to spread around as well, in order to make the rest of the civilized world afraid of them. And then you've got their descendants embellishing... I totally agree with the way you humanize them in these discussions.

    What would you say about modern day units like Delta Force? Do you think they're a little bit embellished as well? I think certain parts of "Black Hawk Down" and the story of the "300" (not the movie version) are fairly comparable accounts. In either case, I have no idea how accurate the account would seem from the perspective of someone who had been there.

    REPLY: This is Syntax responding to what was asked of me. I would say it absolutely does include the current wars in Afganistan, Iraq, and, NOW APPARENTLY PAKISTAN.
    I also have come to the belief that many of these tribal groups look upon war as somewhat of a SPORT. Something akin to what certain tribes of AMERICAN INDIANS once had going on here in America. The young and not so young men going out in raiding parties and such for THE FUN OF IT. Of course it`s not much fun if you get severely injured or die. Also, to one degree or another do not many of our own troops join up to prove themselves as warriors ? I would say without a doubt many of them do.
    These warrior traits have become IDEALIZED in the cultures that successfully competed against each other.
    I WANT TO BE VERY CLEAR THAT I SEE ALL THIS IDEALIZATION OF WARRIOR TRAITS AS ONE OF THE MOST SERIOUS PROBLEMS FACING MANKIND. It is my fervent hope that we as a species find a way out of this cycle of madness. It has gone on since recorded history and in my opinion since the emergence of our species. I do not see it as NORMAL and Healthy. I have reffered to a few isolated groups that did NOT embrace this insanity and what happened to them when confronted by a culture that did : The natives of PRE-COLUMBIAN HISPANIOLA, certain groups of POLYNESIONS. There are not many examples I can come up with. Still I know inside myself these warrior traits are not NORMAL OR HEALTHY. They are sick perversions of what could be a PEACEFUL, SEXUALLY FREE SPECIES that could have joyfilled peaceful lives if we could free ourseves from this insanity. I could go on but feel I have made views clear about all this. ...Dr.Syntax
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  28. #27 Re: What factors allowed Greek civilization to flourish? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    REPLY: This is Syntax responding to what was asked of me. I would say it absolutely does include the current wars in Afganistan, Iraq, and, NOW APPARENTLY PAKISTAN.
    I also have come to the belief that many of these tribal groups look upon war as somewhat of a SPORT. Something akin to what certain tribes of AMERICAN INDIANS once had going on here in America. The young and not so young men going out in raiding parties and such for THE FUN OF IT. Of course it`s not much fun if you get severely injured or die. Also, to one degree or another do not many of our own troops join up to prove themselves as warriors ? I would say without a doubt many of them do.
    That matches with what I've heard from mideasterners as well. I remember talking with this guy who was Kurd, and asking why it was such a problem for the 3 groups in Iraq to get along, and he basically said exactly what you're saying. It's just a game to them.

    I play video games like that sometimes. I guess they're just not lucky enough to own a gaming system, so they have to act it out in real life.

    These warrior traits have become IDEALIZED in the cultures that successfully competed against each other.
    I WANT TO BE VERY CLEAR THAT I SEE ALL THIS IDEALIZATION OF WARRIOR TRAITS AS ONE OF THE MOST SERIOUS PROBLEMS FACING MANKIND. It is my fervent hope that we as a species find a way out of this cycle of madness. It has gone on since recorded history and in my opinion since the emergence of our species. I do not see it as NORMAL and Healthy. I have reffered to a few isolated groups that did NOT embrace this insanity and what happened to them when confronted by a culture that did : The natives of PRE-COLUMBIAN HISPANIOLA, certain groups of POLYNESIONS. There are not many examples I can come up with. Still I know inside myself these warrior traits are not NORMAL OR HEALTHY. They are sick perversions of what could be a PEACEFUL, SEXUALLY FREE SPECIES that could have joyfilled peaceful lives if we could free ourseves from this insanity. I could go on but feel I have made views clear about all this. ...Dr.Syntax
    I think humanity has always needed a population valve. A lot of other species simply stop bearing more young once their population has reached equilibrium with their environment. Humans keep right on bearing kids. If we have any response at all, it's a backwards response. Comfortable first worlders bear fewer children, while poverty stricken third worlders just crank them out as fast as they can.

    I would say it was perfectly sensible behavior, if there were no such thing as a nuclear bomb. But, how were the ancients supposed to know we were going to build WMD's when they decided to start idealizing warrior traits? They probably figured the conditions they were facing would last forever.

    I think that if we want to change it, we're going to need to come up with an alternative population control system, so we can maintain a high level of per-capita farmland available to the public, without having to periodically trim their numbers in order to do so.
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  29. #28  
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    Re population growth.
    There is no rule that says the poor have to have more kids. The rule is much simpler, and much more obvious. It says that those who do not have contraception have more kids. Provide free contraception via foreign aid to third world nations, and the rate of population growth will drop dramatically!
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What would you say about modern day units like Delta Force? Do you think they're a little bit embellished as well? I think certain parts of "Black Hawk Down" and the story of the "300" (not the movie version) are fairly comparable accounts. In either case, I have no idea how accurate the account would seem from the perspective of someone who had been there.
    Accounts of modern day, western special operations forces tend to be accurate. I spend a good deal of time reading real-life accounts of almost unbelievable stories. When I am privileged to meet those who took part in these operations, I find that the accounts are rarely embellished. Here's my trouble with believing Spartans were the Rambo's of their day. It takes two things to develop a real warrior: excellent training and discriminate selection. These are two things groups like the British SAS, US Special Forces group, Austrailian SASR and so forth do very well. The Spartans seemed to have superior training to most other Greek states, but they were taking the average Joe and trying to make him something he isn't. Conscription does not produce real results.
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  31. #30  
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    That makes a lot of sense. I'm curious: do you know of any cultures in ancient history who managed to achieve this combination? I'm curious if any examples exist for us to compare them against. Maybe some emperor who's personal guard were known to be exceptional soldiers? Is there any reason to think that the Spartans' 300 might have been the Spartans' best men, or would they have just been ordinary Spartans?
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  32. #31  
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    Don't forget tactics and weaponry. The Spartans were probably 'ordinary Joes' trained to a higher level of expertise than their peers. However, without the right weapons and tactics, superior to others at that time and place, their training would not save them.

    The Romans conquered the known world. Their soldiers were extremely well trained and disciplined, but their weapons and tactics were the factor that made them exceptional.

    The Spartans also were trained to a high degree of discipline, and like the Romans, fought as a unit, not individually. They had a solid round shield, reinforced with bronze, carried a bronze sword, and used a long spear in battle. They wore a protective helmet, and accounts suggest some body armour, either thick layers of linen wrappings (like kevlar?) or a bronze breast plate. Each Spartan shielded, not only himself, but his buddy, and fought in formation. Their Persian enemies by contrast, had very light armour and light shields which the Spartan spear could easily penetrate.

    Their SWAT teams (Spartan Weapons and Tactics) were highly effective!
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  33. #32  
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    US Marines are also pretty exceptional warriors compared with a lot of the combatants they go up against. For the most part, they're not on a level with Seals, Green Beret, or Delta Force..... etc.... but I could see 300 marines holding a position against an overwhelming number of lesser trained combatants.

    The question for me is, how much attention did Persia put into its soldiers?
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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