I have found myself of late consumed by an incessant need to read about Sparta.
I have devoured (again) Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. I have paged through (again) portions of A War Like No Other and The Spartans: The World of the Warrior Class in Ancient Greece. I am reading through Plutarch's On Sparta and have just about finished Sparta's Kings.
Why, you might sensibly ask, have I been consumed with an ancient state in a province of Greece that is so dissimilar from anything that we experience in the modern world?
I am not sure. Perhaps it is a longing for a simpler time. Or perhaps a longing for nobility in leadership (Reading about the Battle of Thermopylae will do that for you). Or perhaps, especially as I get towards the end of Sparta's Kings, it is the melancholy of seeing the dissolution and decline of a society - in so many ways, it seems like looking into a mirror of the state of the world as it is.
Is there a lesson in all of the things I have been reading? Perhaps not any I can immediately take away but must meditate on to make sense of them. But the one that truly seems to stick out at me is that once the fabric of a society is torn, it is never true mended back together.
And it is only fools that otherwise feel this to be so.