Gates of Fire

Society in Sparta as Seen in Gates of Fire College

In Steven Pressfield's book Gates of Fire, a mortally wounded soldier named Xeones tells his life story to a Persian scribe under the order of King Xerxes of Persia. The story is told through a series of flashbacks, broken up by the scribe, who inserts his own notes. Xeones begins by describing life as a refugee in the mountains with his cousin Diomache and his slave, Bruxieus. Later, he tells of life with the men in the agoge, Dienekes, Alexandros, Rooster, Polynikes, and several others. Throughout the course of the novel, Xeo details life in Sparta, including the training of Spartan men and the roles that women played. The narrative culminates at the Battle of Thermopylae, where all are slaughtered except Xeones.

One aspect of Spartan life that Xeones describes is the training of Spartan boys to become warriors. All Spartan men were supposed to train as soldiers, if they were able. It was only as soldiers and warriors that a Spartan man could be a citizen. The warriors were subjected to harsh exercises that would strengthen both the mind and the body. The Spartans believed that it was only through the strength and discipline of the mind that a warrior could discipline his mind. In describing the exercises, Xeo says that “...

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