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Thorfinn the Shallow Minded

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Thorfinn the Shallow Minded last won the day on October 21 2023

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  1. The idea of Saturnalia falling on the 25th doesn't quite match with when Christmas was initially established. A better explanation comes from an estimate that Jesus died on the 25th of March. Since he was important, they assumed that he was conceived on that day, leading to his birth nine months later. Biblical Scholar Dan McClellan offers basically the same explanation if you want to hear it from a PhD.
  2. I did. The reason I gave a vague answer was because I have not sorted through the pertinent sources and looked at scholarly work surrounding them enough to come to a decisive opinion. I have no problem with regarding the helot class as oppressed, but the dystopian picture Devereaux paints seems frankly unsustainable precisely because there were so many helots. Maybe I am wrong, and I would love to delve into the topic further, but at the moment, I will content myself with positioning my stance as inconsequential at best. The issue I found with his analogy was the ignoring of any positive elements of the education. Were Spartans literate? No, but that does not mean that they were ignorant in a time in which oral traditions were prevalent. It is little surprise that surviving Spartan literature came in the form of poetry, which would have particularly thrived in an oral society. Fair enough. In seeing it, I naively assumed that there would be further scholarly work by the author to steelman the arguments, but it was foolish of me to gloss over some of its fallacious claims. The point I was trying to get across more was that this article contrasted Sparta with its contemporaries, which I much prefer to say making it out to be ancient Nazis. I think a good number of my issues with the article lie in the overt tone that he uses that just gives the arguments a blunt feeling. Likewise, I likely just dislike modern comparisons to ancient things; it feels as jarring as someone condemning how terrible of a Mormon Shakespeare was. Frankly, those are opinions I should not let cloud my judgement as much as it did.
  3. Fair, yet I find the idea of him projecting trauma onto Spartans to be problematic. Don't get me wrong; the educational system was harsh and did cause suffering, but the extent to which this led to psychological trauma is uncertain, and much of his arguments for this hinge on extreme views of child mortality, participation within the crypteia (and killing a helot being a must to become a Spartan), and extensive practise of pederasty. That is a tricky question to really say, but I would argue that they were about at the same level of other servile classes like Athenian slaves. Certainly the fact that they could and did at times rise from that class is good, but the fact that they were systematically attacked shows other problems. The fact of the matter is that like other downtrodden social classes, their voices and presence were always in the background of history, and I am perfectly okay with at my level of knowledge having a fairly agnostic view on the level of suffering they did or did not enjoy. What irked me with the article however, was this idea that all boys had to kill helots as a sort of rite of passage into manhood. Hodkinson rightly notes that the skills of the crypteia would give would have little battlefield utility, and rather, it would seem to be a way of finding the best of what could make up the future Spartan leadership as they worked with minimal instruction, acting on their own initiative.
  4. This isn't Sparta seems like a questionable bit of scholarship to me for other reasons. First, he overtly psychoanalyses his sources into what seem to be cardboard cutouts. The fact of the matter is that while he argues they were snobby for disliking democracy, all of them had legitimate issues with the dysfunctionalities present in Athens given the abuses of power of various demagogues, the unjust execution of the admirals following Arginusae, and most obviously Socrates. Also with infanticide, there is no reason to regard it as unique or even as necessarily something that did happen. https://www.archaeology.org/news/10231-211214-greek-exposure-infanticide. Also, he seems to put too much weight on the weakest source: Plutarch, while dismissing Xenophon's more first hand experience. While I think there is insufficient data to weigh in decisively on the extent pederasty, Xenophon's witness is an important basis to cast doubt on it being a widely done practice. Quite frankly, I find the accounts of brutality to just as likely to have been exaggerated by Athenians when juxtaposing the two. He also criticises the education system on the idea of literacy as if that were a sole metric of learning. Much of education during that time revolved around memorising oral traditions. Honestly, it feels strange that he is comparing it to modern standards when Sparta was hardly worse in some respects to Athens, which had a similar fraction of its populace capable of actually participating in the democracy and similarly relied on slavery which was likely in some cases as brutal. The following blog post does a better job of representing that. https://spartareconsidered.blogspot.com/2018/02/of-slaves-and-helots-short-comparison.html I would also recommend an excellent article by Hodkinson "Was classical Sparta a military society?" It also does a lot to provide a more nuanced take on Spartan life. Devereaux actually does interact with Hodkinson in a later post, and I would be intrigued to further read on that.
  5. I think it would be vital to have dedicated transports; that was the case for many important campaigns like Hannibal's.
  6. And I would not disagree with you. In fact first, I would stress that the fortress replacement would be a cheaper and weaker structure. Second, this is not an attempt to model Spartan colonisation. The point I was drawing with Tarentum is that Sparta did not have much anything to do with it. Exchange between colony and home city generally required two things: ship routes (of which Sparta had none of) and commercial activity (of which Sparta also did not practise). In this sense constructing additional Civic Centres does not model Spartan expansion too well. Instead this is to represent the garrisons Sparta installed in cities, mirroring the way that Sparta following the Peloponnesian War propped up numerous pro-Spartan oligarchies. Again this is why it could perhaps be buildable in allied territory.
  7. This more or less. I would add that it should not be a resource drop off point and be exclusively for training champions as you mentioned.
  8. This is true, but it was hardly an aggressive coloniser like Athens or Corinth. Likewise, its colonies functioned differently from others due to a major idea behind why most other city-states established theirs: trade. Like later colonial effort, many colonies were a means of the parent state exporting finished goods to the colony for commodities. Spartan interest for this was practically minimal, and the motive behind their founding Tarentum, perhaps their most prominent colony, only came after an internal crisis following the Messenian Wars. Basically a fortress like structure could better represent their mode of expansion especially following the Peloponnesian Wars and would help identify them as a centralised civilisation that only expands to make small pockets of territory for key resources.
  9. The point I would make is that it is arguable that Perioikoi made up the majority of these sorts of fighters. I would see Helots workers becoming military units as only possible through upgrading them as mentioned above. This would fall in line with the fact Spartans were highly paranoid when it came to their Messenian labour due to the constant risk of rebellions. Those that would fight on campaigns would be freed of this serf class because they now had the capacity to be a major threat. Instances of Spartans doing this include a reference by Thucydides mentions this in Book IV, 26. I am not advocating for the removal of Helot Citizen-Soldiers (Neodamodeis), but Helots that are trained as Citizen-Soldiers from the start. Basically the change I am asking for is a purely cosmetic one. Helot Skirmishers that are trained would become Perioikoi Skirmishers. By the same token, Perioikoi Cavalry would just become Allied Cavalry. Also, I would note that there is a technology already introduced that introduces Neodamodeis as a unit. I would say that this unit can be retained simply by calling them 'Brasidians, in reference to particularly exemplary Helot fighters. As for your other points, I think they are reasonable compromises. Functional gameplay should be the priority after all. One matter I did learn that is rather intriguing is that Spartans were actively encouraged to hunt according to Xenophon, which makes me think that perhaps Spartans themselves could play a role in hunting in the early game to represent this fact. They could be inefficient perhaps, but it's a thought.
  10. While I don't disagree that the gymnasium would be a redundant feature that would be hard to justify from a gameplay function, it is somewhat ironic since the practice of publicly exercising naked was original to Spartans. I think that the Dromos could be interesting, but I would much prefer something that could change up gameplay, and I think one option would be to make it so that Spartans could not make more than one Civic Centre and future expansion would be done with a weaker, cheaper fortress, much like the Bulgarian Krepost in Age of Empires II. The appeal I find to this is that during the post-Peloponnesian War era, Sparta extended its authority by establishing garrisons in other cities like Thebes, and this could be a cool way of representing that. Better yet, it could be unique as a structure you could build in allied territory as a means of supporting or even coercing them depending on the way diplomacy functions in a game.
  11. That kind of makes me think that the theatre could be available in the Town Phase for Athens, to later be upgraded in the City Phase. The key point is that I don't see it feeding well into Sparta's cultural identity. Athenian theatre has a long and rich history, starting from the tragedians to Old Comedy and finally New Comedy. If we want a structure with a similar function (namely expanding territory), it should relate to how Sparta conducted its imperialistic ambitions: governmental ideology. During the time of Lysander especially, Sparta went about installing oligarchies, including the infamous 30 Tyrants of Athens. This could be represented with their Gerousia structure, which would have the added bonus of having a bunch of yelling whenever you click on it (Sparta famously conducted voting by the loudest side winning). It's well established according to Plutarch at least that Spartan houses were a lot rougher looking than other city-states. Wikipedia, citing a pretty reputable looking source, does note that the best reference for Spartan houses comes from Messenia, where the houses had stone foundations and clay walls.
  12. I did push against that idea, but I will admit that provides a decent grounding for Sparta retaining that structure, and I appreciate learning something new about Laconic culture.
  13. I don't. Even with material evidence of a theatre, there is no evidence to my knowledge of Spartan playwrights. This could very well be due to few documents surviving from that time, but by and large it seems that most Greek playwrights were either Athenian or Sicilian. I think that parts of Sparta's nonmaterial culture can be celebrated in other ways. Sparta for instance had poets like Tyrtaeus and Alcman. I am more than willing to suggest having a Spartan theatre model for editor use.
  14. Fair. My thought was having production at the barracks. The point is that cavalry were not from Sparta itself, and having irregular troops produced at the barracks would help communicate that. I'd also agree that Agis IV is a poor choice. I like Cleomenes III as a hero, but I think a problem is that it doesn't coincide with Spartan hegemony. Introducing him would be interesting, however. Lysander would be an intriguing option to explore, and kind of leads into the idea of Spartan naval gameplay involving acquiring Persian warships. I have a soft spot personally for Agesilaus II, who I think led a fascinating life and was responsible for the only effectual Spartan cavalry force. I assume this refers to the fact that Sparta had two kings. Personally I like that sort of idea, but only if the heroes in game were generic. As is, Brasidas not being a king makes the whole idea kind of problematic. Also, it kind of runs into the point that by that perspective Romans should have two heroes to model their consular government. It's a slippery slope that I think the hero system is not designed to model. The key problem with that is the need to introduce more heroes to those factions (in my opinion) to make that idea function, which would necessitate even more work. Good to know.
  15. I've certainly made suggestions on how Sparta could and should be changed in my opinion, but I would like to hopefully revisit this topic to bring forward a number of suggestions that vary in controversy. These will in part include negative suggestions, or things I find represented in the civilisation that are ahistorical that could be removed. Second, there are positive suggestions, or things not represented in the civilisation that could make it more historical. All of these changes are aimed at creating a more historically authentic, asymmetrical civilisation design that should hopefully make the faction more fun to play. I would also note that these suggestions should not be taken as a whole but rather as individual pieces, and I am more than willing to admit fault to one being too game breaking in hope of others making their way into the game. This is after all a game and not a simulation, and there are definite ramifications to a few of these suggestions. Negative Suggestions: -Remove the Stable and Existing Perioikoi Cavalry: First, I would suggest removing the stable for a simple reason: Spartans had a notoriously horrible cavalry. Worse, to my knowledge there is no instance of Perioikoi being fielded as a cavalry force. Examples of cavalry in their army tended to take the form of allied contingents like Olynthian soldiers. The idea of perioikoi fighting as horsemen comes off as absurd even before that evidence due to fact that only the wealthiest class could afford a horse, and a vassal town makes an unlikely candidate for that dramatic of a social structure. Instead, all Allied Cavalry could instead be trained at the barracks at the trained at the Town Phase. Now an obvious problem with this is the fact that it would have a dramatic economic effect on Sparta, which would be bad if solutions aren't put forward. Here are a few: Make Skiritae the dedicated hunters for Spartan early game. This could also be done to other units like Spartan women. Have an extremely weak cavalry unit Spartans could train that would never rank up. This could be called Perioikoi Cavalry (For lack of a better stand in) and would only have effectiveness as a scouting and hunting unit but nothing more. -Remove the Theatre: Browsing through the Wikipedia list for Ancient Greek Playwrights, there are literally no playwrights that came from Sparta. This is especially important since even if Spartans wanted to put on an Athenian play, it wouldn't work well since they spoke a completely different dialect. This has the indirect benefit of making factions with the theatre more unique. This has already been raised, but I think that more exposure to a good idea is a good thing. -Remove the Market: Spartans had measures to ensure that trade with other city states was impractical in part due to their iron currency. I could see the argument of introducing the market an phase later if one would still like to emphasise the issue Sparta had with trade, give a clear gameplay effect, and still not penalise the player too much especially in the late game or team game situations. -Remove the Watchtower: This is a wall turret in all but name. Sparta should have the capacity to defend itself, but static structures like this should not be the basis of their tactics. -Make the Civic Centre Train Women and Helots Exclusively: This would play into theming of Sparta better. The Civic Centre can be a purely economic structure dedicated to two units that were central to Spartan life; the Barracks would train vassal or allied troops, and the Mess Hall would train Spartans. This is a significant departure from typical Civic Centre design, but I think that having variations on this template would benefit the game, and in the future we should put more thought into what specific unit classes are available to be produced from a faction's Civic Centre. Positive Suggestions: -Replace the Helot Javelinist with a Perioikoi Javelinist: Helots were a distinct social class from the rest of Spartan society, and representing them as soldiers willing to easily die for their country is pretty ahistorical. Instead, by replacing the Helot unit with the Perioikoi one, you would better represent a role Perioikoi often played in Spartan campaigns. -Add the Helot Worker: This would be a purely economic unit similar to the woman but generally better at collecting every type of resource. For argument's sake, I could see this unit having a weak ranged attack, but I think anything more would be unthematic. These would be available to train at the Civic Centre. They could take up a fighting role by researching a technology called Emancipation or Neodamodeis (Based on the term for an emancipated Helot: νεοδαμώδεις). This would be akin to the Norse ability in Age of Mythology to transform workers into military units with a nominal cost. Brasidas could also provide a discount to this emancipation. -Make Women have an Economic Aura for Helots: This would help to make Spartan woman have an integral role in Spartan economy that would hopefully encourage players to balance between protecting themselves with Citizen Soldiers and Spartans and building up a robust economy. Since their role would in part be auxiliary, I could see them having a higher food cost to compensate for this. -Make Spartans Available In the Village Phase: This has been raised by me and many others for an obvious reason: it's pretty oxymoronic for Sparta to not have access to its quintessential unit until the City Phase. It's effectiveness during this time could be reduced during that point, but I think the suggestion speaks for itself. Along with this point, Spartans should begin the game with a Spartan. That would be fun thing like how Kush starts the game with a priest. Basically, strategy for any player with the Spartans should centre around this specific unit. My apologies if any of these suggestions are redundant with the Community Mod. I have exclusively made these suggestions based on my experience with the alpha alone. Likewise, if any team members or volunteers have already made patches addressing some of the above issues, you have my thanks.
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