[MGSA-L] Golden Dawn Abuse of History: Sparta

DANIEL P. Tompkins pericles at temple.edu
Thu Dec 25 11:27:58 PST 2014

To the long list of examples of historical fakery, we can now add the
appropriation of Sparta  by the neo-Fascist "Golden Dawn" organization that
currently terrorizes immigrants and others in Greece.  Alexander Clapp did
a fine column on his experience with Golden Dawn in London Review of Books
<http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n23/alexander-clapp/diary>, December 14, and now
Paul Cartledge and Stephen Hodkinson, major authorities, add their own
expert comment. (The letter that follows, from Martin Sanderson, is also


*lrb.co.uk* <http://www.lrb.co.uk/>

Letters  [RE]  I was a Greek *neo-fascist *[By Alexander Clapp]:

As Alexander Clapp makes clear, Golden Dawn is indeed a neo-fascist party,
which seeks to reinforce its electoral charm by appeals to myths about
ancient Sparta (*LRB*, 4 December 2014
<http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n23/alexander-clapp/diary>). It is worth
reiterating that at least one key element of Golden Dawn's claimed ancestral
connection is indeed a myth: ancient Sparta, though militarily proficient to
an exceptional degree, was not as brazenly militaristic as Golden Dawn
imagines or would like it to have been. But then, as Clapp points out, the
party's guiding ideology is rooted not in some fantasised antiquity but in
the Greek Civil War of 1946-49, which afflicted Sparta and its wider region,
Laconia, with particular bitterness and brutality, following on from the
horrors of Nazi occupation.

 Paul Cartledge; Stephen Hodkinson

Clare College, Cambridge; University of Nottingham

Golden Dawners 'ambush immigrants about once a week,' Alexander Clapp
writes. 'They call these raids *krypteia, *"secret things".' That is
what *krypteia
*means, but it was also the name of an alleged ancient Spartan practice.
Plutarch describes it in his life of Lycurgus, citing Aristotle as his

*The magistrates from time to time sent out into the country at large the
most discreet of the young warriors, equipped only with daggers and such
supplies as were necessary. In the daytime they scattered into obscure and
out of the way places, where they hid themselves and lay quiet; but in the
night they came down into the highways and killed every Helot whom they

Martin Sanderson

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