3 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Three: Spartan Women, Part Two

Why did king Leonidas pick the specific 300 warriors that he did to fight the Persians (and to face certain death) at Thermopylae?

To this day, no one knows.

In Gates of Fire, I imagined an answer. Leonidas chose his Three Hundred—including himself, for he knew he too would die in the coming battle—not for their own courage but for the courage of their women.

In today’s video, we’ll investigate further the mindset of these wives and mothers, sisters and daughters of the ancient world’s premier warrior culture.

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  1. Andrew lubin on August 24, 2020 at 6:22 am

    “Because you can.” And it remains true today for the wives and mothers of our Marines and Soldiers who marched off to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other climes and places. S/f

  2. Terry Weaver on August 24, 2020 at 6:44 am

    Steve, you reminded me of this quote, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” -G.k. Chesterton, English philosopher known as the “prince of paradox”

    Good stuff, S/F

  3. Joe Jansen on August 24, 2020 at 8:20 am

    I love that this scene was added at the encouragement (insistence?) of Kate and Nita, and it ends up being the scene many readers find most memorable.

  4. Scott on August 24, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    This passage has a hidden subtlety: When Paraleia says, “These are the last tears that the sun will ever see.,” the subtext is that she will doing her grieving at night, alone. She understands that Leonides is *not* asking her not to grieve at all. That would not be human. He’s asking her to swallow her grief in public. I don’t know if the author intended that, but that’s how it reads to me. And it is an example of letting the reader extrapolate on his own from this brief exchange what is forthcoming to her, instead of having a line that later spells it all out, like “and then she sobbed her heart out at night.” This is a marvelous unspoken connection between Paraliea and Leonides, where she shows perfect understanding what he asks of her.

    • Steven Pressfield on August 24, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      That’s it, Scott. That’s it exactly. The key part of the quote is “that the sun will ever see.” Thanks for getting it.

  5. Johanne Crawford on August 25, 2020 at 4:40 am

    Wow…it says so much about mothers in general, how we keep all the plates spinning in midst of the chaos and fear that life throws our way while revealing the warrior mom within that moves forward in the uncertainty.

  6. Erick Yates Green on August 26, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Empowering indeed is it to be invited into this your sharing of the “Warrior Archetype” video series and teachings of you, Steven Pressfield, in amongst the balance of this vlog team of co-witnesses and fellow Life and story voyagers.

    Especially in this time of isolation caused by uninvited frightening Covid-19 invaders, to share this kindred exploration into the history of how woman and mankind gathered enough courageous camaraderie to face their enemies—both physical and Spiritual—is a gift SO damn-sure much appreciated!!!

    And both a filmmaker and film professor [and a confessed creative-ADD easily distracted person}, I also much admire how you present your video series and even ‘Writings Wednesdays’ in singular tangible chapters of wisdom. Not only does your teaching strategy make your given material possible to absorb from beginning to end [to which I am able to reach : ) ], but it also helps bake in each lesson so that it still reverberates throughout the day and week.

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