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Casting Through Ancient Greece
85 minutes | 6 days ago
Collaboration Episode: Part 1 Featuring Spartan History Podcast
For this episode I take a break from our narrative to bring you a collaboration that I had teamed up with Steve from Spartan History Podcast to record. We went into this conversation without any scripts and just a rough plan of what we wanted to cover. Steve’s series, Spartan History Podcast, takes a deep dive into the history of the Spartans, beginning back in Mythological times. He is currently in the stages of how the institutions and practices that would define the Spartans were developing. I would encourage everyone to check out his series as I am sure you will learn some elements about the Spartans that I bet you didn’t know about before.For this episode we begin by talking about ourselves and how we got into the podcasting world. We also look at what drew up towards Ancient Greek history. The conversation then evolved of many different tangents around Greek history, but we would come to focus on three many areas. I would look at the founding of Democracy in Athens with the early stages of its development. Steve then takes us for a closer look at Lycurgus and the question of if he was a historical figure. We then turn to the Greek and Persian War looking at who out of Athens and Sparta had been the most influential in their victory of Persia.The collaboration has been split over two parts, with this episode being part 1. Part two is hosted on Steve’s show over at Spartan History Podcast. Below are a number of links to help you find his show and his social media pages, though he is easily found on all good podcast platforms.www.spartanhistorypodcast.comSpotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/2oYdMfzDbVzJUrddjpFF6eiTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/spartan-history-podcast/id1489152895Twitter: @Spartan_HistoryFacebook: Spartan History PodcastSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreece)
38 minutes | 20 days ago
29. The Battle of Plataea
As the sun rose over the plains of Boeotia, the battle of Plataea would now finally be decided this day. The various Greek wings had got underway and began falling back in three sections, the centre having made its way back to Plataea. The Spartan wing had finally moved off leaving a rear-guard force to protect their withdrawal or the protesting Spartan battalion under Amompharetos, depending on how we interpret events here.Amompharetos and his battalion would start making their way back to the main Spartan line once it had halted. This occurring as the sun was beginning to rise and revealed to the Persians, the Greek line now broken into three separate formations. This would now present Mardonios with the first viable opportunity for an all-out attack of the past ten days.First the cavalry and then the infantry were sent rushing forward to engage the Greek line. Particular focus had been on the Spartan right wing where it could be seen an isolated formation was retreating without support. The battle that erupted would be fierce and intense all long the line. Most sources give the impression the centre of the Greek line shirked their duties, but hints to this not being the case have survive.The Spartan wing was engaged with the Persian element of Mardonios forces, while the Athenian left, attempting to come to the Spartans aide were now evenly matched against the Greeks allied to Persia. Mardonios had come forward in the Persian attack to help bolter morale but would fall in battle due to a rock thrown from the Spartan lines. This would now see the Persian forces and their allies waver and a route back to the Persian palisade would take place. This palisade after more intense fighting would also be breached and a general slaughter of the Persians would ensue. The Hellenic league had won the largest engagement of the Greco-Persian wars and effectively ended Xerxes second invasion. Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreece)
33 minutes | a month ago
28. The First Clash
The Hellenic league had now arrived in the foothills of the Citheron Mountains, with still more contingents continually arriving throughout the hours and days to come. Pausanias, hastily deployed what forces were currently available down in the foothills where they would be protected to some degree. His mind was focused on forming a strong defensive line, as this had been the advice revealed by the omens.The Persians had seen an opportunity for a cavalry action with it seeming part of the Greek line was exposed. The first action in the lead up to the battle now took place with the Persian cavalry harassing part of the Greek line. The Athenians would advance to support this part of the line and in the process, they would kill the Persian commander and repulse the cavalry. This victory over the Persian cavalry would see the Greeks confidence grow and Pausanias now deployed the line further forward. This, though would open up more opportunities for Mardonius to exploit. Over the coming days without a general battle developing, the Greeks would lose their only feasible supply of fresh waster and to make matters worse their supply lines had been disrupted by the Persian Cavalry. With the Greek army now in a precarious position, Pausanias ordered for the line to retreat back to more defensible terrain. Here they would also gain access to fresh water and they would be able to secure their supply lines coming out of the Citheron Mountains. Though, when the retreat began at night things did not go as planned and would put the Greek line in a very vulnerable position as the sun rose.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreece)
33 minutes | 2 months ago
27 The Road to Plataea
Athens refusal of Mardonius offer to join the Persian side had seen the Persian army march back into Attica and take control of Athens for a second time in a year. The Athenians had once again evacuated the city back across to Salamis, while the Peloponnesians remained behind the wall being constructed across the Isthmus. Mardonious would repeat his offer to the Athenians, now back in control of their city. But once again the Athenians would refuse. The Peloponnesians had previously in the campaign agreed to march north to meet the Persians in battle. They were now dragging their feet, with talks between the various city states seeming to get nowhere.Finally, Athens had had enough and used the Persian offer to try and force the Spartans to act. They would make it known that they were considering the offer since the Hellenic league would not unite and no other choice available to them. This appeared to see a change in tune from the Spartans, surprising everyone that their army was in fact already on the march north. Though, other hazy political considerations may well have been at play also.The various city states that made up the Hellenic league were now beginning to also march north after hearing that the Spartans were on the march. The further the Spartans marched the more the numbers of the army swelled. Eventually the Athenian force sailed from Salamis and would join the Spartans. With the news of the Greeks marching north Mardonious pulled out of Athens and deployed his army in country more suited to cavalry. The Hellenic league now more united than even, emerged out of the Citheron Mountains near the small polis of Plataea, where across the plains and Asopus river was the Persian army. Episode brought to you by www.podgo.coCome and support the series https://www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreeceSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreece)
39 minutes | 2 months ago
26. The War Continues
The Greeks had just won the battle at Salamis but it wasn’t immediately clear the extent of their victory. The Persian fleet had been mauled and now had some breathing room to withdraw back across the Aegean unhindered. The Greeks expecting the Persians to resume the attack the next day, eventually gave chase but to no avail.Xerxes and his commanders discussed the best way forward, he still had an intact and undefeated army on Greek soil. Though, political considerations and possible trouble brewing back in the Empire would see him withdraw back home. The Persians would still continue the campaign without Xerxes present. His most trusted general Mardonius had been left in command of a picked fore to attempt to subjugate the rest of Hellas. The Persians would fall back into Thessaly for the winter and attempt you break Athens away from the Hellenic alliance.Athens was now concerned at the inaction by the Peloponnesians who had returned to the Peloponnese behind the now near completed wall across the Isthmus. Though, Athens would reject the terms given which would see their city occupied for a second time in a year. They were once again taking refuge on Salamis and now desperate to get the Peloponnesians to march north. Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreece)
10 minutes | 2 months ago
Show Update March 2021
An update about what has been happening at Casting Through Ancient Greece. Talking about what I have been doing over the last month or two while also discussing the direction of the series.Big announcements regarding featuring ads into the episodes while also setting up a Patreon page. Supports of Patreon will have access to bonus episodes and more.Check out Casting Through Ancient Greece on Patreon:https://www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreece
71 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 25: 300, Rise of an Empire Against the Sources
In 2014 the sequel to the movie 300 was release, 300: Rise of an Empire. This time around the film would move away from the Spartans as its primary focus and put the spot light on Athens. Rise of an Empire would all have at the centre of its story the battles of Artemisium and Salamis which were both fought at sea and Artemisium occurring on the days as the battle of Thermopylae. Though how much of what is depicted in the movie is based on historical examples?I will once again explore the main story line and themes that the film puts across while comparing what the ancient sources tell us about the events taking place over the period. This way we can see what the film has put across with fairly accurate historical context. While also seeing where its creators have stretched the historical record to fit their version of events. And of course, where they have basically written their own version of history.By the end of the episode, hopefully you should have a pretty good understanding of what in the movie has a good grounding in history according to our ancient sources. Hopefully you have also been following the rest of the series where we have covered much of the events depicted from a historical point of view, helping further understanding the film historicity. So sit back and relax as we cast our way through 300: Rise of an Empire. This episode was brought to you by PODGO,Visit www.podgo.co to see how you can monetise your podcast, be sure to say Casting Through Ancient Greece sent you when filling out the application.
34 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 24: The Battle of Salamis
The Greek fleet had assembled at the island of Salamis, but an agreement on strategy was far from united. To make matters worse, Xerxes had arranged for a show of force outside the straits which saw a few contingents panic and set sail at once. For the rest who remained a decision was made that the fleet would withdraw back to the Peloponnese the next morning.This would see Athens lost for good and the rest of Greece more vulnerable than ever. Themistocles, though had other ideas and now arranged a ruse, bordering on treason, to try and unite the Greeks to fight at Salamis. He would send a messenger to Xerxes to try and entice him into action before the Greeks had a chance to depart. Xerxes would act on the information that Themistocles had sent him, mobilising his entire fleet to try and defeat the Greek navy once and for all. The movements become a little confused but appears that both openings of the striates would be blocked in in one way or another. The Greeks would learn of their dire position, which would now see only one option open to them now, to fight.The battle of Salamis would see the Greek fleet far outnumbered, but the vast number of the Persians would see this inhibit their movement within the striates. With Xerxes looking on, the commanders aboard the Persian ships would foul themselves on one another as they attempted to get into action to impress their king.The Greeks would suffer many losses in the long days fighting, but the Persians had suffered far worse and were in full retreat out of the striates. As they fell back yet more carnage would follow as Greek ambushes were launched. The Persian fleet was now a spent force and the Greeks had won the battle of Salamis. Though, the level of their victory was not immediately apparent, also the Persian land forces were yet undefeated and the campaign would continue on.
32 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 23: The Fall of Athens
This Episodes recommended podcast is Battlefield command History podcast. Check out Ramsey's series here: https://battlefieldcommandpodcast.com/The defenders of the last stand at Thermopylae and the Spartan king lay dead, the Persians now in control of the pass. At Artemisium, the Greeks had decided to withdraw from their position due to not being able to sustain the losses they were taking and news of the fall of Thermopylae. The path into central Greece was now open to Xerxes and his forces.The Persian army would march throughout central Greece adding more cities to their list of subjected peoples. Those cities and villages that continued to resit in the face of the Persian forces were raised to the ground with their people fleeing, killed or captured. Though, some divine intervention would see the Persians being unable to add Delphi to it subjected peoples.With the news of the Persian advance, Athens had been evacuating its people across to the Island of Salamis. Xerxes would arrive to a mostly deserted Acropolis, laying siege to the few defenders and then capturing the city. He was now in control of the ultimate prize and would now take revenge for the destruction at Sardis the Athenians had been involved in some 20 years earlier. Athens now lay in ruins but the Athenians were still a powerful Polis. They still possessed one of the largest fleets in all of Greece. The other members of the Hellenic league were also on Salamis, but much debate was taking place on whether they should depart and make their way to the Peloponnese. The fate of Athens now rested on if the Greeks at Salamis could unite and challenge the Persians there. Themistocles, the Athenian leader would try all he could to make this a reality.
31 minutes | 5 months ago
Episode 22: The Battle of Artemisium
The Initial defence plan the Hellenic league put into action saw a land force attempting to block the Persian army’s march into Greece. Though, this was part of a larger plan which also saw a Greek fleet take up a position at Artemisium to block the advance of the Persian navy. Their position was located some 40 miles north east of Thermopylae and would help protect the hoplites in the pass being outflanked by Xerxes armada.The Greek fleet was commanded by the Spartan, Euryrbiades although they supplied one of the smallest contingents. The majority of the fleet was made up of Athenian vessels, with them being commanded by their cunning leader, Themistocles. Themistocles also comes down through history as a driving force in the fleet’s strategy and would influence the decisions made in the Greek camp. Tradition has it that while the fighting was raging in the pass at Thermopylae, the naval action at Artemisium was also unfolding over the same 3 days. The Greeks would use the position at Artemisium to their advantage and look to nullify the Persian’s superiority in numbers. They would also employ cleaver tactics to avoid a decisive action, while the “gods” would also provide some assistance.The final day at Artemisium would see the Persians attempt to force a full-scale engagement. Both sides would suffer in the action with the Persian fleet receiving the worst of it. The Greeks though, decided they would need to withdraw as they could ill afford the losses taken, the Persians could sustain a battle of attrition. News had also arrived that the Greek position at Thermopylae had fallen. The position had also now become irrelevant, the march into central Greece was now open.
62 minutes | 6 months ago
Episode 21: 300 Against the Sources
In 2006 the movie 300 hit the screens of cinemas across the world depicting a battle that took place nearly 2500 years ago. Though, more accurately it depicts a group of 300 warrior’s involvement in that battle. For most, this would be their first and only exposure to Greek history, leaving them to either take on face value what they saw as basically fact, as it was based on actual events after all. Or, they would assume this was a fictional story with a historical theme, this is Hollywood. I explore the main storyline with all of the themes present, where the smaller details can be brought up with more context behind them. I want to be able to show what the film manages to present fairly accurately historically. Or alternatively has presented in its own interpretation with examples in the historical record that can be pointed to. I will also point out some of the fanciful elements and what appears to be inserted for dramatic purposes, but not based on anything from the historical record.Ultimately, I hope after this episode people can walk away with a better understand of what has been presented and that can be connected to the ancient sources, therefore in line with the historical record. While also recognising what liberties have been made and perhaps why these things are presented or told the way they are. We are not looking to much at what was historical fact but what exists in the historical record that could be drawn upon which will also let us see how the Greeks saw their own history.
31 minutes | 6 months ago
Episode 20: The Battle of Thermopylae
The Greeks had now arrived at the pass of Thermopylae, in all there were some seven thousand Greeks present. They were led by the Spartan King Leonidas at the head of his three hundred strong Spartan force. Their position would be further supported by the combined Greek fleet some 40km away at Artemisium.Defensive arrangements in the pass were undertaken as Xerxes forces drew closer outside the pass. It was also learnt that a small track in the mountains posed a threat to the Greek position down below in the pass. A sizable force would be detached from the main force and sent up into the mountains to guard this route.Xerxes would attempt to convince the Greeks to surrender their position, but after four days sitting by idle he would launch the beginning of the battle of Thermopylae. No matter the quality of the troops Xerxes sent against the Greek position they failed to dislodge them from the pass. Even his most vaunted Immortals fared no better than those who went in before them.Finally the nightmare, Ephalities would inform Xerxes of the existence of the trail in the mountains, betraying the Greek position. Now instead of having to meet the Greeks head on in the narrow pass, his troops could now surround them. Knowing their fate the remaining Greeks fought till the end with a shower of arrows finishing off the resistance in the pass. The final act of the battle seeing the Spartan solider Dienekes’ response realised, “Good, we shall fight in the shade then”
31 minutes | 6 months ago
Episode 19: The Greeks Prepare
With Xerxes arranging the full resources of the Persian empire in an invasion against Greece, word would have filtered back to Greece of the preparations. The Greeks would not sit by idle but would now attempt to take measures to see a halt be put to the Persian advance. This time around it wouldn’t just be Athens and Plataeans meeting the Persians on the field of battle.In the years between Marathon and Xerxes invasion, politics had been continuing in Athens. The new public figure to have risen, Themistocles would see that a policy shifting Athens to a naval power would emerge. This would have huge impact on the coming war and also well into the future.To have any hope against the force assembled by Xerxes, the Greeks would need to unite in a common cause. This would prove to be a difficult task in a land dominated by fiercely independent city states with their own interests. A league would be formed, though with only a fraction of the thousands of city states that dotted the Greek main land and Aegean. This would become to known as the Hellenic league and cooperation within it would rest upon a razors edge. Finally, the league would meet the second Persian invasion for the first time at the pass of Thermopylae and the straights of Artemisium.
32 minutes | 7 months ago
Episode 18: The Second Persian Invasion
The Athenians and their Plataean allies had effectively put an end to the first Persian invasion at the Bay of Marathon in 490 BC. Athens would continue to emerge as a powerful city state with their confidence after their victory. The Hero of Marathon, Miltiades would fall from favour with a new figure coming to dominate the political landscape for a number of years to come.Back in the Persian Empire the defeat at Marathon would not be a disaster but would still be an annoyance to Darius. Though, before further action could be taken against the Greeks Persia had problems within their own Empire that had to be resolved, with two important regions attempting to revolt, Egypt and Babylon. Once the empire had been stabilised preparations began to attempt a second invasion of Greece. A new king would lead this invasion as Darius had died of an illness before he could see the plans through. Xerxes was Darius’ son and would lead the forces against Greece unlike his father who had remained in Persia during the first invasion.The army Xerxes assembled was larger than anything that had come before it in the ancient world. This time around there would be no doubt that the conquest of Greece was the main objective. Great feats of engineering would also be undertaken to assist in the march of this colossal force. To put a stop to the invasion this time around the fiercely independent Greek city states would need to unite against this common enemy.
30 minutes | 7 months ago
Episode 17: The Battle of Marathon
The Persian forces had landed at Marathon Bay unopposed and had set up camp. The Athenians and Plataeans had now arrived at Marathon to challenge the Persians invasion. A stand off had ensured with both sides not taking the initiative, the Athenians debating wether to even fight at the Bay.Eventually, Miltiades would convince his fellow Athenian commanders to give battle. With a rousing speech that would bring Callimachus round to the merits in his arguments. The Greeks were outnumbered and made arrangement to match the Persian line. This though, would provide a weak point for the Persians to exploit.The Greek phalanxes crashed all along the Persian line, engaging in a manner, we are told, like never before, cover the distance at a run. It is still debated today what caused the Greeks to all of a sudden to act this day. The Persians would exploit the weak point in the Greek line but this early success would turn out to be a disaster. The Persians now were in a panic making their way back to their ships with the Greeks in toe, the carnage on the shore line would have been horrific.Tradition would have it that news of the Persian rout would make its back to Athens by the first Marathon run by Pheidippides. The Persian were able to embark the survivors of the battle and now made their way to attempt a direct attack on Athens. Though as they came into view, they could see the Athenian force prepared to give battle once again. They had travelled back to Athens from Marathon bay well aware the acropolis had been left undefended. This would effectively see the end of the first Persian Invasion, but the Persians would be back.
30 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode 16: The First Persian Invasion
With the region of Ionian in the Persian Empire back under control, Darius could now turn to other business. He had reportedly, after learning of the Athenian involvement in the revolt, had one of his servants repeat to him three times “Master, remember the Athenians” whenever he sat down to a meal. Remember the Athenians, and the others who had also dared assist the Ionians, he would.An initial campaign was sent north into Thrace which also had a navy shadowing the land forces as they marched following the coast line. This campaign would ultimately run into disastrous problems causing the commander to return into the empire. The naval force would be destroyed, not by the Greeks but by a storm that whipped up as the fleet rounded the notorious Mt Athos. While, the land forces would encounter unexpected resistance from the Thracians who would also wound the Persian commander, Mardonious.The second campaign would see a fleet assembled which would transport the Persian land forces across the Aegean in what would amount to an Island-hopping campaign. Along the way Persian policy towards those willing to submit and those who would resist were on full display, acting as an example to those yet to encounter the armada.Accompanying the Persian fleet was the old exiled Tyrant of Athens, Hippias with the expectation that he would be re-established as the leader in Athens, answerable to Darius of course. Before landing in Attica the Persians first laid waste to another polis who had accompanied Athens during the revolt, Eretria. Once revenge had been taken against them the fleet now made its way to a bay along the Attic coast known as Marathon Bay.
32 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode 15: The Ionian Revolt
We now arrive on the eve of the Greek and Persian wars. The Greek colonies of Ionian had traded one ruler for another and were now part of the Persian Empire. Their lack of freedom and rising taxes would see discontent grow. With some help from ambitious leaders, Ionia and surrounding regions would rise up in revolt.The Ionians would seek help from their cousins back on the Greek mainland to assist in their plight. Only two city states, Athens and Eretria would answer the call with limited help, but it was enough for Darius to shift his gaze west. The ultimate goal of the rebels was to march onto Susa, one of the Persian capitals. But the campaign would be short lived with the Greek force being foiled at the first major city. Sardis. The Persian forces were able to force the battle of Ephesus and the Greeks were routed, with the Athenians and Eritreans returning home and taking no more part in the revolt.The Persians now began systematically re subjugating the various regions along the Anatolian coast line in a series of campaigns lasting another 4 years. Eventually the revolt would be effectively defeated at the naval battle of Lade. Now though, with the prelude to the Greek and Persian wars over the Persian Empire would now begin preparations to move against the lands of Greece.
39 minutes | 9 months ago
Episode 14: Recap and Q&A Ep 01 - 13
The Casting Through Ancient Greece podcast is now moving into the Greek and Persian war period. We have spent the past 13 episodes looking at how things were developing in Greece that will help give us a better understanding of the periods moving forward.This episode I talk about my experiences since starting the podcast, as well as the support I have received from other podcasts out there.We spend the first part of the show going back and summarising the topics and themes we have spoken about over the past 13 episodes. Going all the way back to the first signs of human habitation in the Greece, all the way through to the last series of episodes where we looked at the development of 3 of our major players moving forward. Hopefully this helps with refreshing everyone’s memory of everything covered so far.The last part of the episode I spend answering questions sent in by listeners ranging from topical questions to general show questions.Stay tuned as we now move into the Greek and Persian wars.
34 minutes | 9 months ago
Episode 13: Persia, King of Kings
With the founder, Cyrus the Great of the Persian Empire now dead, power transitioned to his son Cambyses. The transition was relatively smooth and the empire remained stable and it was business as usual. Cambyses would lead a campaign and conquer Egypt but this is where his rule took a turn for the worse and the crisis shook the Persian court.Cambyses reputation in the historical record suffered at the hands of the Egyptian priestly cast, who he was not popular with. Reports of an attempted coup from his brother or a conspiracy from the Magi, the Persian Priests, work their way into the account. Though, Cambyses would die on his way home when attempting to deal with the crisis.Power now lay with a pretender and would so for the next seven months. Another conspiracy now developed with a band of nobles who sought to bring the Empire back under the rightful ruling line. The nobles would over throw the Magi controlling power leaving the job of ruling the empire coming down to one of them. Darius would be successful in being elevated to the title of King of Persia and was at pains to show his connection to the old ruling line.Stability would return to the Empire after Darius dealt with the revoting regions of the empire. Once having full control of power Darius continue with the business of empire and expanded the territories even more. It would be in his rule that the Greek and Persian worlds would directly collide with the onset of the Greo-Persian wars, the Ionian revolt lighting the spark.
36 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode 12: Persia, Rise of an Empire
Now that we have seen the development of Sparta and Athens, two of our main players for the upcoming Greco-Persian Wars period, we need to look at a third. This time it is not a Greek city state, but an empire east across the Aegean Sea. This was the Persian Empire and would come to influence Greek affairs for centuries to come.The main empire the Greeks had contact with in the Near East during the Achcahic period was that of the Lydian Empire who controlled most of Anatolia. In the late 6th century, the Lydian’s had brought the Ionian Greek cities dotted all along the Anatolian coast into their control. Though, as powerful and wealthy as the Lydians were a great threat appeared on their eastern boarder.This threat was in the shape of the new power of Persia, who only a handful of years earlier was one of a number of Iranian groups occupying the Zagros Mountains. Events around them would see this relatively small group of peoples coming to dominate their region, before then expanding and creating the Persian Empire, which Lydia would become apart of. The founder of the Persian empire would become to be known as Cyrus the Great and like most founders there were traditional tales to explain his background and rise to greatness. In just his life time Cyrus would go onto create the largest empire the world had yet known, bringing the Greek world into direct contact with them.
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