13 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Thirteen: Go Tell the Spartans

What made Thermopylae different from every other great battle?

For me, it was the fact that the Spartans advanced onto this field knowing they were all going to die.

No miracle would save them, no negotiation, no last-minute reprieve.

The phrase in their epitaph, ” … obedient to their laws,” says it all.

They vowed to face the worst and they held true to that pledge.

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here


  1. William Zeitler on September 28, 2020 at 6:11 am

    It’s also interesting that the poem begins: “Go tell the SPARTANS.” Not the Athenians, not the World — tell the SPARTANS.

    • Brian Nelson on September 28, 2020 at 8:24 am

      When I read your comment, my first thought was, “Of course, because no one else would understand. Everyone else would criticize, condemn, question and belittle the ‘backward thinking Spartans’. You make a great point.

  2. Brian Nelson on September 28, 2020 at 8:39 am

    These videos are like the North Star to me. To be reminded of what true sacrifice, true integrity, true honor looks like is both terrifying and inspiring. I’m not one of your readers who questions the validity of the Spartan culture. Would I want to be a Spartan? Most of the time, not at all. I’d prefer to live in Athens. I’m more of a creative. But I am inspired nonetheless. I have spent some time in pretty stark environments, and the irony is they are some of my best memories. Any military person understands this.

    What the story of Thermopylae reminds us is that art and culture would have died without the ‘rough men willing to do violence on their behalf’.

    I sat on a panel, 10 or 11 years ago. The convention was for non-profits doing good overseas. The breakout in which I sat on the panel was about Afghanistan. There were two others–3 Cups of Tea educator types, and me–the only military guy in the zip code.

    The question was about what happens when the military pulls out. I answered, “Well, more female school teachers will have their heads cut off.”

    Went over like a lead balloon, but I stand by the assertion. People do not care about the humanities when they are terrified, starving, or ill. There has to be a sense of safety before learning can happen, and throughout the history of mankind–rough men willing to do violence to protect the tribe are required. Maslow’s hierarchy fits with the individual and with nations. It is why we must allow for wealth accumulation before Senegal, Botswana, Peru, any third world country gives a shit about global warming.
    No one cares about the future of the planet when they are more concerned with clean drinking water…

    I am so grateful for you doing this. It matters.

    • Jonathan on September 29, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Very well said, and astute observations, Brian.

      It’s also interesting to me that many overlook the fact that a contingent of Thespians remained behind as well, and died on the field.

      Considering “Thespians” is now synonymous with things relating to drama and theater, that’s kind of curious as well.

  3. Gene on September 29, 2020 at 7:08 am

    Indeed, life is a series of choices. Your ‘challenge’ to live by a code – whatever that may be – is among the most profound ideas you have offered.

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    Although a country with a low level of education, their solidarity and resilience to fight together cannot be underestimated. It was a power greater than even advanced weapons.

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