“Take Me To the Wizard Files!”

Below are some of the dusty tomes I studied in writing The Warrior Ethos. Does the word “arcane” ring a bell? Reading these is like getting beaten up with a bag of ball bearings. Trust me, if the library at Quantanamo Bay contained nothing but these books, there would be no need for “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The prisoners would sing like birds. “Please! No more! I’ll tell you anything you want!”

Harry Potter

I know just how he feels.

I’m the opposite. I love this stuff.  Unearthing Frontinus’ The Strategemata deep in the library stacks, I was as psyched as Quentin Tarantino when he first got his hands on the master tapes for Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time by the Delfonics.

I can’t get enough of these obscure old texts. They’re like salted peanuts to me. Tracking them down, I’m like Harry Potter digging through the Wizard Files. This stuff is occult gold. It’s Alchemy 101. What I love most is the flashes you get across thousands of years when you recognize people just like us.

There’s a totally obscure manual from the fourth century B.C. called How to Survive Under Siege by Aineias the Tactician. That’s what the book is about: literally how to survive in a fortified city when you’re being besieged. One of the tricks the Tactician suggests, to fool the enemy into thinking you have more warriors than you actually have, is to dress the city’s wives and mothers in men’s armor and helmets and have them parade around the battlements, carrying spears alongside the men. Aineias appends one critical proviso however:

Instruct these women not to hurl any stones down from the parapets, as the besiegers, when they discern the feminine throwing motion, will see through the ruse and reckon that your defenders are not men.

Herewith the bibliography for The Warrior Ethos.  Dip in if you dare.

Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander

The Bhagavad Gita , numerous translations

Curtius, The History of Alexander

Demosthenes, Philippics

Frontinus, The Strategemata

Herodotus, The Histories

Homer, The Iliad

Moore, Robert and Douglas Gillette, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine

Plutarch, Plutarch’s Moralia (including Sayings of the Spartans and Sayings of the Spartan Women)

Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus

Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus

Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus

Polyaenus, Stratagemata

Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

Vegetius, De Re Militari

Xenophon, Constitution of the Spartans

Xenophon, The Education of Cyrus

Xenophon, Anabasis [“The March Upcountry”]

This post wraps up the text part of The Warrior Ethos series. Thanks to everyone who has followed from the beginning ten weeks ago. Next week we’ll put up a “lightbox” eBook with the full text readable for free. You can read The Warrior Ethos on-site now by clicking on the link at the end of this post. Paperbacks and a Kindle version can be ordered from amazon.com. To read from Chapter One in sequence, click here.]


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  1. Stacy on May 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Er, I think it’s more likely Hermione would be digging through the Wizard Files. : )

  2. Annette on May 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I got such a kick out of this post. Especially your quote from the Tactician. (As a former softball player, I huffed just a little. 🙂 ) One of the things I enjoy the most as I write my novel based in ancient Sparta (and find the most challenging) is to find little ways to bridge the gap between our modern reading audience and the ancient world without changing the mores of the ancients. That quote is priceless. Thank you so much for this series.

  3. Rod Roth on May 10, 2011 at 3:03 am

    Glad you take so easily to those tomes, Steve. I have some of them, but trying to get through them is like taking castor oil. Better I wait for the books you write after absorbing Xenophon et al.

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