Both in antiquity and in modern scholarship, classical Sparta has typically been viewed as an exceptional society, different in many respects from other Greek city-states. This view has recently come under challenge from revisionist historians, led by Stephen Hodkinson. This is the first book devoted explicitly to this lively historical controversy. Historians from Britain, Europe and the USA present different sides of the argument, using a variety of comparative approaches. The focus includes kingship and hegemonic structures, education and commensality, religious institutions and practice, helotage and ethnography. The volume concludes with a wide-ranging debate between Hodkinson and Mogens Herman Hansen (Director of the Copenhagen Polis Centre), on the overall question of whether Sparta was a normal or an exceptional polis.
Introduction - Stephen Hodkinson The Spartan dyarchy: a comparative perspective - Ellen Millender Hegemonial structures compared in late archaic and early classical Elis and Sparta - James Roy Education and pederasty in Spartan and Cretan society -Stefan Link Drinking from the same cup: Sparta and late archaic commensality - Adam Rabinowitz Spartan religion and Greek religion - Michael A. Flower Using few words wisely - Laconic swearing and Spartan duplicity - Andrew J. Bayliss The colonial subject and the ideology of subjection in Lakonike: tasting Laconian wine behind Lacanian labels -Dorothy M. Figueira and Thomas J. Figueira Aristomenes and Drimakos: the Messenian revolt in Pausanias. Periegesis in comparative perspective - Lydia Langerwerf Seeing Spartans, seeing barbarians: Visuality in Xenophon's ethnography - Rosie Harman Was Sparta a normal or an exceptional polis? - Mogens Herman Hansen Was Sparta an exceptional polis? - Stephen Hodkinson