Saturday, March 10, 2007

How (not) to watch 300

I've read mixed reviews of the new Frank Miller adaptation. The truth is, I liked Sin City enough that I'll probably go to see 300 anyway. One of the things that some people are reading into the film is that it is a sort of apology for the Iraq war. This is anachronistic, as 300 was written in the 1990s. I hope that 300 is compelling historical fiction, but I would urge (particularly neocons) to treat it as nothing more. Here are a couple points that I remember from sundry history classes of my past:

The Spartans were slave-owners
I don't know if the film will mention the Helots, but they were an ethnic group that was subservient to the Spartans. As part of military training I seem to recall that Spartan boys had to kill a Helot. The "free men" and the "freedom" that Sparta fought for was of a rather limited sort. (I suppose if you're one of those types that get all warm-and-fuzzy about the Confederacy, this won't bother you).

The Persians were not all bad
They allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their religion and culture a generation before . By contrast, later Hellenic powers attempted to ban Judaism.

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