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Man against History: Epaminondas and Thebes

by Alexander G Rubio Sun Jan 29th, 2006 at 11:17:55 PM EST

Yes, it's more European history lessons, and more blasted Greeks...


Oedipus and the Sphinx
5th c. BC Attic cup by Douris
Why is it worthwhile to consider the Greeks? Well, for good and ill, they were the first to try out a lot of ideas. Or, more importantly, they were among the first to leave behind extensive records and histories documenting their doings for posterity to learn from.

When people look back to ancient Greece, it tends to be to the victory of the underdog story of Marathon, Salamis and the Persian wars, the golden age of Periclean Athens, the internecine carnage of the Peloponnesian war, or the late last flowering of Alexander's conquests. But Between the fall of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian war and the rise of the hegemony of Macedon, there was a brief interregnum. This was the short lived heyday of Thebes.



Map of ancient Greece (Click for larger image)
Modern Marxist inspired historians have tended, and rightly so for the most part, to focus on the great tectonic movements of history, forces of economy and demographics that individuals can ride to glory and power, but not control or direct in any meaningful way. But there are moments, when one, or a small number of persons can, and did turn the tide of history. One example that is often trotted out is Alexander the Great, and what would have happened if he simply had decided to turn back after having freed the Greek cities of Asia Minor from the Persians. Hellenism might have never happened, and Rome might have faced a still united Persian foe on its eastern borders.

But Macedon was a true national state, not a mere polis, and a military juggernaut set on invasion even before Alexander assumed the throne after his father, Philip II's assassination. He was arguably the greatest military mind in recorded history, but he had inherited an impressive tool with which to set about his task.

While Macedon was well organised and rich in both resources and fighting men, the same could hardly be said of the Thebes which Epaminondas more or less single-handedly almost succeeded in lifting to the position of power Macedon was later to usurp.

History and Geography


Boeotian "Tanagra Figurine"
The city state (polis) of Thebes had pretty much been a non-entity as far as the political map of classical Greece was concerned. In the heroic struggle and victory against the invading Persian empire, led by Athens and Sparta, which had given Greeks a new found confidence and sense of purpose, they had taken no part, or at least no part that gave them much credit. And culturally they never did amount to much, beyond some charming, if rather pedestrian small terracotta figurines Greek farmers still plough out of the ground.

Situated on the Boeotian plain, on some of the few acres of truly fertile farmland, aside from the Spartan homeland of Lacedaemonia, in this otherwise arid and stony country, it might seem to have been ideally placed. But, like Sparta, it too was landlocked, lacking any usable harbours, depriving it of both the profits and exchange of ideas that comes with extensive overseas trade that were to benefit such states as Athens. And, unlike Sparta, Thebes didn't have naturally defensible borders.

The Eurotas valley, the heartland of Sparta, was shielded from the outside world by mountains that even this far south are snowcapped year round. Spartans used to boast that their city had no walls, as her walls were the shields of her young men. But in truth the Spartans had walls provided for them by nature. Like later day Poland, Thebes was not so blessed.

They were regarded by most other Greeks as a rather dull and plodding lot. True, they had in the past occupied a more prominent position. Its centrality to Greek myths and legends could rival that of Troy. Oedipus had once ruled there. It was probably one of the first cities proper on the Greek mainland, dating back to early Mycenaean times. Hesiod, the contemporary of Homer, and second only to him in importance to later Greek culture, had been born there, as had the later poet Pindar. But most of this was a thing of the past.

Following their shared victory in the Persian wars, it soon became clear that the ideological differences between the democratic expansionist Athens and the oligarchic, militaristic and more than a little paranoid Sparta were such that conflict was inevitable. Greece wasn't big enough for the both of them. The result was the Peloponnesian war, fought across the Mediterranean, and through a couple of generations.

In the end Sparta emerged victorious as the Greek hegemon. But decades of war had sapped even their strength. The Spartans, who married late and lived their lives in the barracks, were never many. At Plataiai during the Persian war they had fielded 10,000 men in addition to allied and subordinate auxiliaries. At Leuctra they would field only 700 true Spartan hoplites. But though not what they once were, Sparta were still the 800 pound gorilla of the Greek world, with its hoplite phalanxes enjoying an aura of invincibility.

Thebes had been allied to Sparta during the Peloponnesian war. History and proximity to Athens had cast that city in the role of arch-enemy. But Thebes was, like a number of Greek city states, torn by civil strife (stasis) which pitted the aristocratic oligarchs against more democratically minded groups.

Sparta, ever the enemy of democracy, which it saw as a dangerous and destabilising political system, intervened on behalf of one of the parties, and a Spartan contingent was spirited in during a religious festival, during which the men of the city were consigned to stay indoors, and occupied the Kadmeia, the Acropolis castle of the city. Once entrenched, they would not be dislodged. The leader of the democratic party was tried and executed, along with those who did not flee the city, mainly to the old arch-enemy, democratic Athens. Thebes had become an occupied state.

Liberation and Reorganisation

From their Athenian exile, the ousted democrats plotted the overthrow of the oligarchs and the liberation of their home city from the Spartan stranglehold. Chief among them was a young man of noble family called Pelopidas. There was also his soft spoken friend, Epaminondas, also of an aristocratic family, but one that had fallen on hard times. He was highly educated though, having studied with some of the foremost philosophers of the time, and was an accomplished artist.

The Roman historian Cornelius Nepos would later write in his "Life of Epaminondas":

He was of an honorable family, though left poor . . . but he was among the best educated among the Thebans; he had been taught to play the harp and to sing to its accompaniment by Dionysius [a famous musician], to play the flute by Olympiodorus, and to dance by Calliphron. For his instructor in philosophy he had Lysis of Tarentum, a Pythagorean, to whom he was so devoted that---young as he was---he preferred the society of a grave and austere old man, instead of companions of his own age.


Torso of Spartan warrior
thought to represent the
hero of Thermopylae,
king Leonidas
A cold and rainy December night seven of the conspirators managed to sneak back into the city disguised as farmers returning from the fields. With the help of a sympathiser with connections to the new regime, they infiltrated a banquet for the ruling oligarchs, this time disgused as women. Before the randy fat cats had got to unwrap their veiled goodies, they found themselves at the business ends of the daggers the "hostesses" had hidden in their dresses.

After having freed the political prisoners from the dungeons, and marshaled the people in the square, they marched to the Kadmeia. The Spartan garrison suddenly woke up to the fact that they were under siege with low supplies. Contrary to Spartan tradition of never retreating, but rather fighting to the last man, like the Spartan ideal, king Leonidas did at Thermopylae, the commanders of the garrison opted to retreat under a promise of safe passage.

Spartan mothers and wives used to send their men off with the words, "Return with your shield, or on it!", meaning, "Win, or die!" If you fell honourably in battle, your comrades would carry you back on your shield. But if you fled, the shield was so heavy that the first thing you'd do was to throw it away before beating a retreat. Consequently two of the commanders, who had so shamefully surrendered the castle, with not a blow being struck, were executed upon their return to Sparta.

Pelopidas and Epaminondas now set about reorganising the state under a democratic constitution, and the all important task of fielding an army, for when the Spartans returned with payback on their minds.

Central to the reorganisation of the armed forces was the establishment of the so called "Sacred band", an elite unit of 300 hoplite warriors, all of whom were paired with their homosexual lover. The thought being that these men would never turn to flight, leaving their lovers behind in battle. And this turned out to be true, 'til the very end.

Knowing that they faced what was man for man the finest infantry forces in human history, the liberated Thebes struck an alliance with Athens, which was now a fellow democracy (not that that counted for much), but more importantly had been itching to get back at the Spartans ever since their defeat in the Peloponnesian war. Under attack on both land and sea, the Spartans found it almost impossible to concentrate their forces for a killing blow.

But fate, and the old Greek curse, came to the aid of the Spartans. As soon as the immediate danger was passed, the old distrust between the two allies reasserted itself. Athens was loath to break Sparta, only to see Thebes take their place as the leading state in Greece. That position, they felt, by rights belonged to Athens. They negotiated a separate peace with the Spartans, leaving their erstwhile allies to face the inevitable onslaught alone. All of Greece put their money on the Spartans stomping Thebes into the ground and jumping up and down on the pieces.

Leuctra

This was the moment when Epaminondas, and his reformed army, had to show what they were made of.

Up to this point the Greek hoplite phalanx had fought in pretty much the same way since it had been introduced in the 8th century BC. Heavily bronze armoured infantrymen, or hoplites, armed mainly with pikes, would form ranks, a minimum four deep, with shields (the large round hoplon, from which it is believed the infantry took their name) overlapping so as to protect the right side of the man to each soldier's left and forming a wall bristling with spearheads. When pitted against each other in battle, the phalanxes would clash head on, and, like a pair of sumo wrestlers, literally try to push each other off the field. The Spartans, disciplined in the art of war since childhood, were the acknowledged masters of this tactics.

Now they felt the time was right to put an end to the hated Thebans. In 371 BC they marched their army into Boeotia. Though the core Spartan contingent was smaller than what they had been able to field in the past, its strength was augmented by large numbers of auxiliary forces from allied or subjugated states. They not only had the greatest fighting machine in Greece on their side, but they also had superior numbers to the Thebans.


The battle of Leuctra (Click for full image)
The two armies met at Leuctra, a stone's throw away from Thebes itself. The Spartans formed up their straight line of phalanxes, with the elite Spartan units, led by one of the two Spartan kings (a rather unique form of government to be sure), making up the right flank.

But instead of ordering up his forces in a corresponding straight line to face them, Epaminondas did something quite new. He deliberately weakened his centre and right flank, while on his left flank, facing the Spartans strongest units, he massed infantry 50 men deep, with "The Sacred Band", led by Pelopidas, making up the core, supported by what cavalry they could muster. He then gave the order for that flank to advance on the enemy, picking up speed as they went, while the centre and right flanks held back, making a sloped formation.

The left flank smashed into the Spartans' right like a freight-train, the massed men in the rear propelling the front ranks forward with unstoppable momentum. The Spartan lines buckled and started giving way.


More detailed view of
The battle of Leuctra (Click for full image)
What Epaminondas had done was nothing less than a revolution in the conduct of warfare. Up to this point, the army might have a right flank, left flank and a centre. But they all had basically the same task. Epaminondas however had for the first time turned an army into a cohesive organism, but one which had limbs, each performing a different task. While the offencive units were to expend their energy in a swift hammer-blow, the defencive units initially had no other task than to tie up the forces facing them, prevent an encirclement, and only later surround the enemy's forces, if a full scale rout had not resulted by that time. The army had been turned into a skilled boxer, parrying with one hand, while striking out with the other. And the military commander had been turned into the brain of the army, leading by skill and intelligence, not primarily by setting an example in courage from the front lines.

The sloped formation was later to be used to great effect, not only by Alexander the Great during his campaigns, but by commanders such as Frederick the Great of Prussia during the Wars of Succession and the Seven Years' War in the 18th century. It was employed on the battlefield as late as the 1991 Gulf War, when General Norman Schwarzkopf used the tactic against the Iraqi forces.

The ferocity of the attack tore up the Spartan right flank, inflicting heavy losses and turning it to flight. Retreating back to their fortified camp, they stood by their dying king, trying to decide on a course of action. In fact, the other units of the army had never even got to participate in the fighting, partly because the forces making up the left and centre of the Spartan army were mostly composed of allied units, who were more than a little lukewarm to the Spartan cause.

Against the counsel of a few, who wanted to stay and fight, it was decided to sue for a cessation of hostilities. The Thebans, who were as dumbfounded at their success as any, agreed. The remaining Spartan forces marched away unmolested. But not only was it a broken army, but the aura of invincibility which had surrounded it had been lost forever.

Mantinea

The hegemony of Greece now fell to Thebes under the leadership of Epaminondas. All of the smaller states of central Greece, excepting Athens, now joined in a Theban league, whose influence now started to stretch even into the Spartan territories in the Peloponnesus. Epaminondas lead an army there and operated at will in Lacedaemonia.

The Messenians, who had long been enslaved en masse as helots to work the land for their Spartan masters, now rose up, and were joined by waves of Messenians returning from exile, in scenes reminiscent of the Jews returning to Israel. Under the guidance of Epaminondas they now founded an independent state, as did the Arcadians.

After having decided against a direct assault on Sparta in 362 BC, he now turned his forces towards the enemy stronghold of Mantinea in Arcadia. But Athenian forces (who had now allied outright with Sparta against Thebes) reached the city ahead of him. When they were shortly joined by a Spartan contingent, the siege turned into a regular battle.

But Epaminondas' skill as a commander again made the difference. By feigning a retreat, he got the enemy to break ranks, thinking the whole thing was off. That's when he attacked, using the same sloped formation he had used to such effect nine years before. It did not fail this time either. The Athenians and Spartans did their best to pull the ranks together. But it was too late. All cohesion was gone, and men were milling here and there across the battlefield, trying to get away.

And that's when disaster struck. Leading from the front (his friend Pelopidas had died some time before, a loss comparable to Lee's on losing his best field commander "Stonewall" Jackson during The American Civil War), he had dodged spears and arrows all through the battle. But just as victory was in sight, a stray throwing spear struck him in the chest. The shaft broke, but the point was embedded in the wound. He fell unconscious into the arms of his comrades.

The news spread like wildfire through the phalanx. It was a moment without parallel in the history of warfare. A whole army, beaten and on the run, is suddenly saved through the loss of the enemy commander. Everybody froze. Not another enemy soldier was killed. The Theban cavalry not only abandoned the chase, they even turned to flight themselves, as if they were defeated. There simply was no one who could replace him, and they knew it. This man embodied all their hopes and faith for a happy end to the struggle, and when he was gone, they lacked even the confidence to pursue a beaten enemy.

No one would have felt this more keenly than Epaminondas himself. The doctors, upon examining the wound, announced that removing the spear-point would result in him instantly bleeding to death. The dying man then asked the ones present as to the outcome of the battle. When he was told that Thebes had won, he asked for the two officers he had designated as his successors. When told that they had both fallen, he sadly advised that peace be sought with the enemy, and asked for them to remove the spear-point.

His last moments are shot through with the knowledge that in the end he had failed in his goals for his people. And from a political point of view he had broken Sparta's hegemony over Greece, but been unable to build a lasting union of the Greek peoples that would survive him.

As a man, not even his enemies could find fault with him. For his friends and countrymen, his death would prove to be a mortal blow.

The end of Theban Power


"The death bed of Epaminondas"
by Isaak Walraven (1686-1765)
(Click for larger image of the full painting)
Lacking the leadership of Epaminondas, and having only limited resources in wealth and men, Thebes was unable to assert its power over the other Greek cities to the degree of forming a true political unity on the Greek mainland.

But a new power was rising in the north. Macedon had always been on the fringe of the Greek world. It is still hotly debated whether the majority of the population were of Greek stock at all. Indeed the Greeks themselves did not recognise them as such. But the royal house, for Macedon was still a monarchy, claimed descent from the Greek hero Heracles, the strongman of Greek mythology, and the elite were thoroughly Hellenised.


Philip II of Macedon
(Click for full image)
The king of Macedon, Philip II, had spent part of his youth as a hostage in pledge of loyalty at Thebes. And while there he had spent his time partying and, rumours claimed, carrying on a succession of homosexual romances. But he had also been busy learning all he could of the latest Greek advances in technology and organisation, and the new tactics invented by Epaminondas. On his return to Macedon and accession to the throne, he set about reorganising the kingdom from top to bottom, establishing the first standing professional army. All earlier Greek armies had been unpaid citizen armies, who fought for home and hearth, and would return home to tend their farms and businesses during the winter season.

With this army he set about expanding Macedon's borders with an aim to eventually usurping the hegemony of all Greece. At Chaeronea his forces, the offencive right wing commanded by his young son Alexander, clashed with the combined forces of Thebes and Athens. Even after all hope was lost, "The Sacred Band" stood their ground and were cut down to the man. An attempted rebellion against the Macedonian yoke some years later led to then king Alexander razing the city to the ground, its surviving citizens hauled away to slavery. The story of Thebes was at an end.

Epilogue

Now one can justifiably say that Sparta was a spent force, which, were it still the hegemon of Greece, would have fallen to the rising power of Macedon a few short years later, and that the march of history would have proceeded unperturbed. This is probably the case. But that it was Thebes which did the deed, and for a brief moment looked poised to take the leadership position which later fell to Macedon, that was largely Epaminondas' doing. And the force behind that bid for power died with him.


And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.

TS Eliot - "The Waste Land"



This article is also available at Bitsofnews.com.

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Thank you for taking the time to write and post this, agr...unfortunately, I went to see Alexander the Great in the movies, hoping I'd get some history...all I got was an awful movie with vague references to history (and I DON'T recomment that movie...). This makes up for that...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 07:01:27 AM EST
Thank you!

And yes, that film was a major disappointment. I actually have a soft spot for Stone's some times over the top directing, but that film was just a mess.

Of course part of that, and the reason we've not seen any good films based on the life of Alexander the Great, even though it would, on the surface, seem perfect Hollywood material, is due to the character being hard to get a "grip" on. Even though we know quite a bit about his life, it really doesn't add up to an understandable, or easy to empathise with, portrait of a living breathing human being.

It's a bit like Sherlock Holmes without Watson. Conan Doyle actually wrote a Sherlock story or two with Watson absent. And what is suddenly abundantly clear is that without that human(e) and down to earth filter, Holmes is too inhuman and down right weird in his intellectual superiority to be a likable or sympathetic figure.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 12:05:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the major reason Hollywood hasn't made a decent film about Alexander is the rather obvious fact he was bisexual.  Bagoas is directly called his eromenes in several of the histories.  Alexander's relationship with Hephaistion is absolutely central to Alexander's life and they were more than 'just good friends' -- if ya know what I mean  ;-)

Cut that out and all you have is a rather boring travelogue: 'Wherever I, and my Army goes, there I am.'

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 10:48:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True. But I still think it runs deeper than that.

It's no coincidence, I think, that in the perhaps best novels based on his life, Mary Renault's Alexandriad trilogy, except for the first book, he is strangely distant, like something you see from the corner of your eye. In the second book, he really doesn't even make an entrance, other than as a distant rumour, until a long way into the book...

There was just something alien about him, a quality that might inspire awe, but something that I think doesn't translate well into a silver screen hero format

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 11:19:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that is true as well.

As I received my Classical Education from the University of Penguin (laughing) I can only offer a suggestion: part of the "strange distance" stems from the fact all of our sources come from the Roman Age when Alexander was used as a means to critique the Principiate without the danger of being turned into lion food; part from the differences between the way the Romans looked at things and the way the Greeks looked at things; part from the - um - 'perspective' of the School of Aristotle.

If we had the history of Ptolemy, who was Alexander's half-brother and known him from a child, we might be able to bridge that distance.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 11:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And one more awesome diary, in content and form. with your diaries, ET would surely win the most artistic diary award, if there wassuch a category among blogs.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 01:44:45 PM EST
Now you made me blush... ;)

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 02:04:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So much for my speaking my mind ;)

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 03:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well done, you have kindled my imagination with this fabulous article...
What I was wondering about is why Epaminondas, being aware that his abilities, intellect, and military skills were crucial for the whole campaign, has not trained
a seccessor to him, somebody who will be an "apprentice" and will gradually learn from the "master". In order an empire to prosper over a long period of time, no matter how skillful its founder is, he is mortal, and for the sake of succession an appropriate legatee has to be chosen by the ruler in advance.

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel
by Chris on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 05:04:39 PM EST
Of course this can only be speculation. But I think it's safe to say that what turned into a larger campaign, with some overtones of pan-Hellenic liberation under the banner of democracy, had simply started out as a frantic struggle for Theban liberation in the name of nationalism. as so often happens, things snow-balled and took one a life of its own. So it's hard to say how much of it was a product a plan as such.

As was mentioned, Pelopidas, who was more of a civil administrative talent, had been the natural successor. But he had passed away shortly before, as did both of the top ranking commanders below Epaminondas at Mantinea.

The result was that after his death, Thebes returned to a purely nationalistic agenda, content to lord it over Boeotia and the immediate surroundings. Indeed, being after all one of the largest polis, but by no means an overwhelmingly rich or populous one, they had little choice really, once the advantage of superior military leadership was gone.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 05:48:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was wondering about is why Epaminondas... had not trained a successor

That wasn't the way the Ancient Greeks went about things.  It would never have occurred to Epaminondas to do that just as it hasn't occurred to modern Olympians to take off all their clothes when they compete - which the Greeks, of course, did.  Chalk it up to cultural differences.

You can get a good feel for the period by reading the life of Pelopidas in Plutarch's Lives of the Greeks and Romans which includes quite a bit of biographical information about Epaminondas as well.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 11:12:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this interesting history lesson. It is often pointed out that Alexander merely carried out Philip II's plans, now I see Philip II stole part of it from Epaminondas! One could even say that this story is not a quirk of history besides the 'great tectonic movements' a Marxist-inspired treatment of history focuses on, but one of those tectonic movements.

By the way, another interesting factoid from the later Greek period of time is that in the end, the Spartans decided to grant freedom and citizenship to helots. But I only know this much (I'm not even sure if this was before or after Alexander). Maybe you can tell more?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 31st, 2006 at 05:03:41 AM EST
The bulk of the helots were the conquered Messenians, who were freed by Epimanondas following Leuctra. But there still remained the original helots, perhaps remnants of the original Mycenaean Greek population, which the Doric Spartans had subjugated early in their history.

It is thought these were emancipated by the kings Cleomenes III and Nabis round about the late third century BC, when the state was on its last legs, and reform was inescapable.

Sparta would in the end become something of a theme-park for Roman tourists, who had a strong admiration for the Spartans of old. But the rather gruesome rituals and initiations, including public floggings, once endured by the young men of Sparta as part of their military training, was now performed as snuff-porn entertainments for the visiting rich.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 31st, 2006 at 05:40:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The prestige and the myth of the Spartan invicibility had already suffered at the time of the battle of Leuctra.
A troop of Spartan did surrender after being isolated and besieged for 3 months on the island of Sphacteria, near Pylos, during the Peloponnesian war (425 B.C.). Later the peltasts (=light infantry) lead by the athenian Iphicrates decimated a whole unit of Spartan hoplites near Corynths (392 B.C.).
Very nice diary anyway. Thank you.
by Hansvon on Tue Jan 31st, 2006 at 06:06:07 PM EST
But that particular "incident" was partly plastered over by the fact that they, in the end, beat the Athenians. Nothing beats success, I guess.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 31st, 2006 at 06:30:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly the best diary entry I've ever read.

The world's northernmost desert wind.
by Sirocco (sirocco2005ATgmail.com) on Tue Jan 31st, 2006 at 06:16:31 PM EST
As if Agnes hadn't embarrassed me enough. Now I'm all schoolgirl....

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 31st, 2006 at 06:26:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Central to the reorganisation of the armed forces was the establishment of the so called "Sacred band", an elite unit of 300 hoplite warriors, all of whom were paired with their homosexual lover. The thought being that these men would never turn to flight, leaving their lovers behind in battle. And this turned out to be true, 'til the very end.
Take that, you homophobes in the Pentagon. </snark>

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 06:21:27 AM EST


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