Research via Fiction (but it’s Steven Pressfield’s fiction, so…)

So I’m writing the first of hopefully many historical adventure novels about Akoniti of Sparta, and while there is plenty of information out there about the training, tactics, and warrior culture of Sparta, I keep bumping up against questions with elusive answers.

For example: Did the Spartans use “sir” when addressing a superior?

When I couldn’t find any documentation on this, I turned to the best resource I could think of. Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I flipped through the pages and found the narrator saying to Dienekes, “Yes, sir.”

More than good enough for me. If Steven MF’n Pressfield has Spartans saying sir, they said sir.

And to get in the right mindset for writing this book, I read a few pages of The Warrior Ethos, also by Mr. Pressfield, every time I fire up the laptop. It’s perfect for dialing into the themes of honor, shame, love, and duty, which form the core of Akon’s Mission.

Like all the best stories,  I don’t know if what I find with this style of research is real, but it is certainly true.


    • Keep in mind, Plutarch is an ancient source and all ancient sources should be taken with a grain of salt. He learned most of what he did by talking to Spartans in his era. As you can imagine, they weren’t the most objective people to talk to. That said, if you’re looking for a lot of anecdotal info about how they lived, he’s good.

  1. Sounds exciting and intriguing! Surely a good combination to make the reader curious not only for reading this post… 😉

    • Thanks Basilis! I’d be more than happy to send you a copy when it’s ready! And if you have any leads on a map of Sparta around 430 BC, let me know–I’ll owe you big time.

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