Tyrtaeus And The Spartan Warrior Code

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In Greek Elegiac Poetry: From the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries BC, edited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, several poems written by a Spartan citizen named Tyrtaeus give an inside look at the ideas behind Spartan society. It is apparent in these poems that men in the state were completely and utterly devoted to the defense of their civilization. While the United States Military is not quite the same as Spartan armies, many of the qualities Tyrtaeus describes in Spartan warriors are apparent in modern US military philosophy. Tyrtaeus’ poems show similarities to and evidence of Spartan warrior code in our military today, although at a much less extreme level. This paper will discuss these influences as well as differences between the two fighting forces. Honor has been a guiding feature in military organizations since the beginning of time. Defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a good name or public esteem” , honor allows military rank and structure to operate efficiently. In Tyrataeus’ first poem, he describes the glory that is given to a warrior who bravely stands in the battle field, fearing neither the enemy nor death. This man seems to uphold the highest sense of honor, even beyond the grave, forever remembered for his sacrifice to the state. In the US military, this idea still exists. Images of fallen soldiers carried home by their comrades in ornately carved caskets covered with the flag of our nation often appear on television and the internet. Their
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