Americans can understand some things about Sparta: The Ephors ruled Sparta; & sexual promiscuity among free, spirited women abounded. It is fitting to show the weakness of these rulers & the great need for strong warlike kings. It is stupid, though, to talk about women being raped – they held too much power.
King Leonidas takes his men to war, because there is no other way. Before the suicide mission, he has a talk on the nature of politics with his allies, who complain of failing numbers. He talks of men. Greeks have jobs, named by their art. Using weapons might not change that. Spartans alone are free men, because they are warriors. They therefore must enslave whoever deals with economics – soldiers also need to eat. Men of war look for a beautiful death, because all men must die, but glory does not die.
The origin of political freedom & barbarism is the man roaring. War is caused by the unceasing dangers that make man’s life a striving that ends only in death. Anger & the ability to talk about things with other humans cannot replace war, but only teach men about war. This story is told by the survivor of the glorious 300 Spartans, who ignores the other cities & focuses on persuading men to fight, whatever the reasonableness of cowardice.
The Persians are rational. They enslave the many because peace requires administration & in war only fear of the master will make men do the necessary. At the end of the world there will finally be peace, when all human beings have been united under one ruler. This is what the Spartans hate, who insist on ruling themselves & would rather die than kneel. They are known to be the most expert warriors because they sacrifice to their gods before battle.
From the point of view of free men, empire is a luxury that debases human beings. It starts with the inability to control desires & using reasoning to satisfy desires. It’s lack of self-control. No man is man who does not want to be alone. This is not the same as being complete. Slaughter reminds men of basic necessity. Mortality emerges at the gates of the city.
The requirements of manliness & the city arouse soul. Man must remind himself of himself to fight to the death. In his fathers, he knows his fate & his blessings. Man also must learn the limits of what he knows. In the city, the human beings become aware of limits which cannot be transgressed. What the Spartans did to the Persian is also an education into the nature of politics & rule over men, which cannot abandon the angry, fearful body.