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~Sophia~

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The Spartans primary value was "freedom," and their culture was entirely oriented on achieving that value. The Spartans believed that there were many other cultures that wished to enslave them that could not be reasoned with (and were in fact correct at the time) so naturally put a large emphasis on their military culture.

Are you trying to say that the Spartans went out and enslaved other cultures for "freedom"? Sort of like the good ol' US of A's preemptive strike against Iraq?

Also there is no reason why a Persian should be offended by the movie, unless he was deterministic and believed that his race determined his personality (eg. this movie says the Persian empire was evil, I am Persian, therefore this movie says I am evil). By any objective standard, the Persian empire in 500 b.c. was evil... probably more so than could be shown using Miller's special effects.

By any objective standard, the Persian empire in 500 b.c. was probably no more evil than, say, the Spartan culture. It's a case where there really weren't any "good guys", but the Spartans simply turned out to be a little bit better.

Therefore a Persian certainly could be offended because their entire race and culture was represented on screen as malformed and grotesque zombies, and their emperor an effeminate SM inspired freak show.

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I think, ~Sophia~, that it wasn't so much that they didn't portray how the Spartans arrived at their values, but that there wasn't any concrete demonstration of what those values *were*. Yeah, they said inspiring words often enough (Freedom!), but without some sort of concrete demonstration of *this is what we mean when we say freedom!* it rings as hollow as the platitudes of modern politicians.

I probably didn't articulate it well, but I think Jennifer is getting at some of what I meant. Sophia, your statement about Roark is correct, but there is something in TF that did develop his character, and that was to concretize those choices. I think 300 did this somewhat. Some of the main plot turns where decisions by the Spartans, but I needed to see enough of their previous choices to really understand. Now, I think they came closest with Leonidas and his queen. I know why he was fighting.

By the way Roark specifically discusses Roark and his value choices in the art of fiction.

Again, I loved the movie. I overlook all of its flaws for what it did so well.

Edited by KendallJ

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Are you trying to say that the Spartans went out and enslaved other cultures for "freedom"? Sort of like the good ol' US of A's preemptive strike against Iraq?

By any objective standard, the Persian empire in 500 b.c. was probably no more evil than, say, the Spartan culture. It's a case where there really weren't any "good guys", but the Spartans simply turned out to be a little bit better.

Therefore a Persian certainly could be offended because their entire race and culture was represented on screen as malformed and grotesque zombies, and their emperor an effeminate SM inspired freak show.

Granted my understanding of Spartan history is weak but I don't recall them "enslaving" other cultures. They often made their conquered enemies into "Helots," which was basically equivalent to a medieval serf. This seems like a rather progressive idea when compared to some of Spartans' contemporaries who did not take prisoners. The Persians on the other hand had chattel slaves (a practice that the Greeks did not undertake) and slave soldiers. Sparta did not attempt to build an empire or collect tribute from other Greek states while the Persians (during the Achaeminid empire at least) attempted to enslave the world.

Here is Aristotle's commentary on the Spartan Constitution:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/aristotle-sparta.html

To say that there are no purely"good guys" in the Greco-Persian Wars may be right, but I submit that the Spartans (who were somewhat free) and the Athenians (who were the freest culture yet seen in the world) were the "better guys" vs. the Persian Achaeminid Empire, which was a second-hander culture at the height of its decline.

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The Spartan society was a totalitarian state that began from birth and continues essentially from cradle to the graves. Spartan children were bathed in wine at birth to see if they were strong enough to survive, then brought to the elders to decide if they were weak or defective. If the child is found lacking, he's left on a hill to die. Children are taken from their parents at 7 to begin military training. At 13 they're sent into the wild with no weapons to kill helots as part of their initiation rite. They're required to serve active duty in the military until the age of thirty, after which they are on active reserve until sixty (and considering the life expectancy at that time, that's essentially your entire life). Another famous tradition of Sparta was the the wives present the husband with their shield, telling them to either return with it or on it - in other words you have to either win or die for Sparta.

Furthermore, Spartan laws did not allowed a citizen of Sparta to trade or manufacture, nor did it allow them to possess gold or silver. Later on there were even penalties on someone who is unmarried or married too late.

As far as I can tell the Spartan society was built against nearly every single objectivist ideal. Not only were their society not "somewhat free" - there were almost absolutely NO freedom in being a Spartan.

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Moebius, the fact that the movie inaccurately portrays Spartans does not change the fact that the heroes in the movie were great men upholding Objectivist values in their fight against tyranny and mysticism. History was played with to enhance the movies theme.

Edited by kingofthething

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Persia on the other hand had consistently allowed the local culture of conquered states to remain, although probably as a mean to discourage rebellion. The state religion of Persia introduced the concept of free will. The Persian empire also introduced the silver and gold coinage system, revolutionizing the economy and facilitated an efficient exchange of commodities across the empire.

The Achaemenid Empire was built on two principles, Truth and Justice. According to Herodotus, "the most disgraceful thing in the world [the Perses] think, is to tell a lie; the next worst, to owe a debt: because, among other reasons, the debtor is obliged to tell lies."

So really, was Sparta "better" than Persia? Perhaps militaristically. But as a culture? Not necessarily.

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I just got back from this movie and love it, it as a film is probably the greatest story in defense of freedom yet told that I have ever seen. Despite superficial historical innacuracies this film matches all the greatest aspects of great art, representing and concretizing our highest ideals. The Spartans are fighting for freedom, they know they will be enslaved and butchered, they value freedom more than life and they will fight to the death to defend it. The movie defended freedom and justice and explicity reason (what movie have you EVER seen that in) with absolute conviction, this is definately one of my all time favorite films.

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Moebius, the fact that the movie inaccurately portrays Spartans does not change the fact that the heroes in the movie were great men upholding Objectivist values in their fight against tyranny and mysticism. History was played with to enhance the movies theme.

Right enough. As I said I understand that there are artistic licenses allowed to be taken in making a work of fiction. But then again, you can make Nazis out to be saviors of the world if you took enough liberty with your story.

However I did like the movie. I'm merely responding to those who say that Sparta's foremost value was "freedom" as erroneous and way off the mark.

As for Tom Rexton, who said that every society up until enlightenment practiced slavery - while that may be true, it wasn't just the slavery aspect that made the Spartan society vile beyond comprehension. It's also all the restrictions they put on their own citizens to keep them from pursuing their rational self-interest and their obvious anti-commerce stance that I mentioned above that made them the very antithesis of objectivist ideals.

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The Spartan society was a totalitarian state that began from birth and continues essentially from cradle to the graves.

[...]

As far as I can tell the Spartan society was built against nearly every single objectivist ideal. Not only were their society not "somewhat free" - there were almost absolutely NO freedom in being a Spartan.

These are interesting facts you point out. Could you give some references that I could read further? (no Wikipedia entry; that is not an authoritative source.) The movie presents only the agoge practice in Sparta, though. I didn't catch any other reprehensible practice Spartans may have had, so it doesn't change my judgment of the movie at all. However, your description of Spartan life might make me think otherwise of the real Sparta.

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The Spartan society was a totalitarian state that began from birth and continues essentially from cradle to the graves. Spartan children were bathed in wine at birth to see if they were strong enough to survive, then brought to the elders to decide if they were weak or defective. If the child is found lacking, he's left on a hill to die. Children are taken from their parents at 7 to begin military training. At 13 they're sent into the wild with no weapons to kill helots as part of their initiation rite. They're required to serve active duty in the military until the age of thirty, after which they are on active reserve until sixty (and considering the life expectancy at that time, that's essentially your entire life). Another famous tradition of Sparta was the the wives present the husband with their shield, telling them to either return with it or on it - in other words you have to either win or die for Sparta.

Furthermore, Spartan laws did not allowed a citizen of Sparta to trade or manufacture, nor did it allow them to possess gold or silver. Later on there were even penalties on someone who is unmarried or married too late.

As far as I can tell the Spartan society was built against nearly every single objectivist ideal. Not only were their society not "somewhat free" - there were almost absolutely NO freedom in being a Spartan.

Hi moebius,

It seems that you are looking at the spartans without taking their culture and zeitgeist into account. To become a Spartan was something of an honor. It was the only path to full citizenship. So a child picked to go to the agoge would not likely be going without the support of their parents. The training they underwent, which seems so very harsh to you and I, was obviously very effective and I would argue even necessary at the time. It wasn't a soft world that these people lived in and their cultural idiosyncisies likely developed in reponse to that fact.

I'll grant that they were a bit religious and their rules did not take individual liberty into full account(John Locke wont be born for 2000 or so more years). But their military achievement is almost without parrallel and the degree of freedom their citizens(spartans) possessed was quite considerable for the time.

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The training the Spartans underwent was certainly effective, though other Greek city-states also had alternative systems that also worked. From a pragmatic standpoint however, I would not argue that what they did was necessarily wrong (although it may be morally wrong). However, thus far no one ever bothered taking the Persian's culture and Zeitgeist into account.

I do not deny their military achievement either, although I'd have to say as far as I can tell, a majority of Sparta's "war" consisted of sending phalanxes out to put down slave-farmer rebellions.

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The Spartan society was a totalitarian state that began from birth and continues essentially from cradle to the graves. Spartan children were bathed in wine at birth to see if they were strong enough to survive, then brought to the elders to decide if they were weak or defective. If the child is found lacking, he's left on a hill to die. Children are taken from their parents at 7 to begin military training. At 13 they're sent into the wild with no weapons to kill helots as part of their initiation rite. They're required to serve active duty in the military until the age of thirty, after which they are on active reserve until sixty (and considering the life expectancy at that time, that's essentially your entire life). Another famous tradition of Sparta was the the wives present the husband with their shield, telling them to either return with it or on it - in other words you have to either win or die for Sparta.

Furthermore, Spartan laws did not allowed a citizen of Sparta to trade or manufacture, nor did it allow them to possess gold or silver. Later on there were even penalties on someone who is unmarried or married too late.

As far as I can tell the Spartan society was built against nearly every single objectivist ideal. Not only were their society not "somewhat free" - there were almost absolutely NO freedom in being a Spartan.

I disagree with your negative revision of Sparta and your positive revision of the Achaeminid Empire. True, the Persians had many cultural innovations (including a recognition of human rights), but by the time of Thermopolye it was in serious decline. By 500 b.c. the Persian empire was a nation of conquest and subjugation, let by despots who claimed rule by divine right. Also, lets not forget who was invading who.

I will revise the idea that the Spartans aimed for freedom, since obviously individual freedom was not their first goal. They above all aimed for personal safety for their families and national autonomy. Their foreign policy was not one of conquest, unlike the Achaeminid Empire. In the early life of Greece, the various cities would often invade one another, sack the enemies cities, kill all the men, and sell the women into slavery. The militarism of Sparta is a direct reaction to this.

Just some facts you clearly overlooked: men with three or more sons were exempt from military service, by Spartan law no foreign power could command their army, there was a democratic assembly that checked the power of the kings and elders, and Spartans could renounce their citizenship and go elsewhere. Also, military training did not start until age 20, although they were taken to the Agoge at 7 where their "training consisted for the most part in physical exercises, such as dancing, gymnastics, and ball-games." (the horrors of the totalitarian state!) As for being sent out into the woods, that was only a test extended to a small group of future elite soldiers, think: the extra survival training Green Berets have to go through.

So I hate to be in a position of defending what was clearly a statist and oppressive culture, but I still maintain the Spartans had the moral high ground at Thermopolye.

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I disagree.

Spartans did not make fun of them. Those "citizen soldiers" were the first to ask why Sparta brought so few (now the tone there did sound insulting). Spartans response was right: they were soldiers and thus could do more, thus they were worth more in battle. Where is the "making fun of" part?

Olex, you've convinced me. I didn't remember it quite the way you did, but thinking back on it, I think you were right.

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By the way I really think in the movie when Leonidas said that they were "fighting against mysticism", what he was talking about was really just "PERSIAN mysticism". It's perfect okay to believe in Spartan Gods and what not, but not Persian ones.

Just like in reality when the Greeks called people "barbarians" back in the days, all they really meant was that they're non-Greeks.

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By the way I really think in the movie when Leonidas said that they were "fighting against mysticism", what he was talking about was really just "PERSIAN mysticism". It's perfect okay to believe in Spartan Gods and what not, but not Persian ones.

Except for the fact that Leonidas' isn't really ever seen bowing to a Greek God. His trip to see the priests is begrudginly undertaken, and it is clear that he despises them. And after all that he disobeys their commandments.

Yes, Greeks in reality might have meant that, but where is your concretization *in this story* that Leonidas did as well?

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By the way I really think in the movie when Leonidas said that they were "fighting against mysticism", what he was talking about was really just "PERSIAN mysticism". It's perfect okay to believe in Spartan Gods and what not, but not Persian ones.

Just like in reality when the Greeks called people "barbarians" back in the days, all they really meant was that they're non-Greeks.

He also disparages the oracle's prophecy as mysticism, and pleads that the Ephors use their reason (not the oracle's babbles) to approve of his plan. Surely you remember that scene? So no, he wasn't just referring to Persian mysticism. He may have said, "pray, we don't..." whatever misfortune may happen, but this is no more harmful that the everyday expression of relief "Thank God!"

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Yeah actually both of you are right, he did reject the oracle and disobeyed the ephors.

Edited by Moebius

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6446183.stm

Iran condemns Hollywood war epic

Historical war epic 300 has been criticised as an attack on Iranian culture by government figures.

The Hollywood film, which has broken US box office records, is an effects-laden retelling of a battle in which a small Greek army resisted a Persian invasion.

Javad Shamqadri, a cultural advisor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said it was "plundering Iran's historic past and insulting this civilization".

He branded the film "psychological warfare" against Tehran and its people.

But Iranian culture was strong enough to withstand the assault, Mr Shamqadri said.

"American cultural officials thought they could get mental satisfaction by plundering Iran's historic past and insulting this civilization," he said.

"Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Hollywood and cultural authorities in the US initiated studies to figure out how to attack Iranian culture.

"Certainly, the recent movie is a product of such studies."

Daily newspaper Ayandeh-No carried the headline "Hollywood declares war on Iranians".

The paper said: "It seeks to tell people that Iran, which is in the Axis of Evil now, has for long been the source of evil and modern Iranians' ancestors are the ugly murderous dumb savages you see in 300."

Three MPs in the Iranian parliament have also written to the foreign ministry to protest against the production and screening of this "anti-Iranian Hollywood film".

The film has already proved a major box office hit in the US where it earned almost $71m (£36.8m) in its first weekend, making it the best ever March opening in North American cinemas.

This is not the first time Iran has protested over its portrayal in films made in the West.

There was outrage over the 2004 epic Alexander which showed the Macedonian general easily conquering the Persian Empire.

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I don't care about historical accuracy of this movie. It was not it's intent.
I haven't seen 300 and wouldn't know what was historically accurate and what wasn't. In general historical inaccuracy might spoil a movie for me if I knew the history well and if the portrayal was fundamentally at odds with what I knew, unless the movie clearly intended to "change" history in the style of a "what if". This article in the Toronto Star comments on some aspects of the history, complete with (negative) Ayn Rand reference.

Also, for anyone interested, Scott Holleran did a review or "300" at BoxOfficeMojo.

...the overblown 300 slices, dices and largely decimates any sign of intelligent life in a computer-generated, music video-styled monster mash that calls itself a movie. It's more like an all-out blitzkrieg against one's perceptual senses, but it is consistently locked in attack mode.... ... 300 looks fake and it delivers action in that tentative, stagy, slow-motion,... It deafens with noise, clatter and blaring guitar ...

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I saw the movie tonight and I rushed on here because I knew it would be a topic of discussion.

300 finally takes a stand: good against evil, reason verses faith, freedom destroying suffering and man against God - and that is what its critics hate. 300's critics provide a grand illustration of the cultural decent of America, where the hero is admonished, the sinner is forgiven and the age of moral relativism has taken hold. This, my friends, is what this movie calls out: the cultural degradation of our times.

One can cite the historical inaccuracies of the movie, but this is not a documentary or even supposed to be historical in nature. It uses the backdrop of the Battle of Thermopylae to make that stand that I listed above. It's unambiguous, like Victor Davis Hanson says on his blog about the movie. It's everything the post-modern world hates: the victory of the righteous and worthy - black and white.

So I'm willing to suspend my criticism of the movie's technology, the violence, the elevation of the Spartans and the degradation of the Persians for the simple fact that 300 takes that stand.

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I must add this since I winced a bit

Elected annually, the five Ephors were Sparta's highest officials, their powers checking those of the dual kings. There is no evidence they opposed Leonidas' campaign, despite 300's subplot of Leonidas pursuing an illegal war to serve a higher good. For adolescents ready to graduate from the graphic novel to Ayn Rand, or vice-versa, the historical Leonidas would never suffice. They require a superman. And in the interests of portentous contrasts between good and evil, 300's Ephors are not only lecherous and corrupt, but also geriatric lepers.

http://www.thestar.com/article/190493

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I saw the movie tonight and I rushed on here because I knew it would be a topic of discussion.

300 finally takes a stand: good against evil, reason verses faith, freedom destroying suffering and man against God - and that is what its critics hate. 300's critics provide a grand illustration of the cultural decent of America, where the hero is admonished, the sinner is forgiven and the age of moral relativism has taken hold. This, my friends, is what this movie calls out: the cultural degradation of our times.

One can cite the historical inaccuracies of the movie, but this is not a documentary or even supposed to be historical in nature. It uses the backdrop of the Battle of Thermopylae to make that stand that I listed above. It's unambiguous, like Victor Davis Hanson says on his blog about the movie. It's everything the post-modern world hates: the victory of the righteous and worthy - black and white.

So I'm willing to suspend my criticism of the movie's technology, the violence, the elevation of the Spartans and the degradation of the Persians for the simple fact that 300 takes that stand.

Bravo!

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For anyone interested in the history, John Lewis has a lecture titled "The Greco-Persian Wars". Here's the summary, from the Ayn Rand Bookstore's site:

In 480 BC the Persian King Xerxes invaded Greece, intending to force the Greeks into slavery. Against terrifying odds they rallied, destroyed the king's navy, routed his army, and permanently ended four generations of aggression in one year. The course will unveil the main events of these wars, but also the philosophical reasons behind them. The Persian demand for submission was rooted in a malevolent, violent world-view, which contrasted fundamentally with Greek freedom and autonomy. This ancient confrontation carries important lessons to us today. The course includes a chronology, short bibliography and maps.

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I saw the movie tonight and I rushed on here because I knew it would be a topic of discussion.

300 finally takes a stand: good against evil, reason verses faith, freedom destroying suffering and man against God - and that is what its critics hate. 300's critics provide a grand illustration of the cultural decent of America, where the hero is admonished, the sinner is forgiven and the age of moral relativism has taken hold. This, my friends, is what this movie calls out: the cultural degradation of our times.

One can cite the historical inaccuracies of the movie, but this is not a documentary or even supposed to be historical in nature. It uses the backdrop of the Battle of Thermopylae to make that stand that I listed above. It's unambiguous, like Victor Davis Hanson says on his blog about the movie. It's everything the post-modern world hates: the victory of the righteous and worthy - black and white.

So I'm willing to suspend my criticism of the movie's technology, the violence, the elevation of the Spartans and the degradation of the Persians for the simple fact that 300 takes that stand.

Very well put! I loved the movie. It is disapointing to see people arguing on here about the historical aspects. The movie is clearly not about history and they even say so.

I can't wait to own the movie, I actually want to go see it again. Art wise there was so much to take in. I love this movie.

Edited by Dorian

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