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Extinct Greece’s Navy of Lovers

Extinct Greece’s Navy of Lovers
Image courtesy Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Directorate of the Management of the National Archive of Monuments, Department of the Historical Archive of Antiquities and Restorations

In June, 1818, all the blueprint thru a focus on with to central Greece, a young English architect named George Ledwell Taylor went out using with some pals in expose to explore the ruins of an extinct city known as Chaeronea. As Taylor’s birthday party neared its destination, his horse took a “insecure stumble,” as he later recalled, on a stone in the roadway; on further inspection, he saw that the stone used to be, in actuality, section of a sculpture. Inviting digging in the kill revealed an animal head on the subject of six feet excessive—or, as Taylor assign it, a “monumental head of the Lion.”

That particular article and the capital “L” are needed. Taylor realized that he had uncovered a eminent monument, talked about in some historical sources nonetheless since lost, is named the Lion of Chaeronea. The Englishman had been studying a piece known as “The Description of Greece,” by Pausanias, a geographer of the 2d century A.D., which states that the sizable establish of the sitting animal had been erected to commemorate a excellent militia unit that had perished there. The lion, Pausa­nias surmised, represented “the spirit of the males.”

Early Newspaper

The unit to which those males belonged used to be is named the Sacred Band. Comprising three hundred warriors from town of Thebes, it used to be among the most fearsome combating forces in Greece, undefeated till it used to be worn out on the Battle of Chaeronea, in 338 B.C.—an engagement by which Philip of Macedon and his son, the ­future Alexander the Enormous, beaten a coalition of Greek city-states led by Athens and Thebes. Students look Chaeronea as the demise knell of the Classi­cal Era of Greek history.

Others can also uncover the account attention-grabbing for numerous reasons. No longer the least of these is that the Band used to be composed entirely of followers: precisely a hundred and fifty couples, whose valor, so the Greeks idea, used to be because of the the undeniable truth that no man would ever recount cowardice or act dishonorably in entrance of his beloved. In Plato’s Symposium, a dialogue about savor, a character remarks that an military made up of such followers would “triumph over all mankind.”

Sixty years after George Taylor’s horse stumbled, further excavations revealed a sizable rectangular burial place near the Lion. Drawings that were made on the positioning articulate seven rows of skeletons, 200 and fifty-four in all. For “The Sacred Band” (Scribner), a drawing near book by the classicist James Romm, the illustrator Markley Boyer collated those nineteenth-century drawings to invent a reconstruction of your complete mass grave. Black marks level to wounds. A quantity of warriors were buried with fingers linked; must you explore closely, you’re going to look that some were keeping hands. ♦

Extinct Greece’s Navy of Lovers