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Self-Control And Courage In The Spartan King ThucydidesHistory

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In Thucydides’ History, the Spartan king Archidamus outlines the values he idealizes in the Spartan soldiers, namely self-control and discipline which in turn create shame and courage. These values are similar to those defined by Socrates as vital to the formation of virtuous guardians of kallipollis in Books 2 and 3 of The Republic. Socrates’ ideal values are courage, moderation and a sense of shame. Thus, since there are parallels in the values idealized by both Archidamus and Socrates, it is probable that both the Spartan soldiers and the guardians of kallipollis will resemble each other to an extent.
Archidamus’ conception of courage is derived from the notions of self-control, discipline and shame. In his speech, he warns the
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Courage will be taught by censoring fearful stories of the Underworld and Hades so that the guardians will be fearless of death (Republic, 386b). Moderation and self-control will be taught by removing stories of gods and heroes living in excess (Republic, 390a-d) and of men lamenting (Republic, 388a-d). The modes and rhythms should follow similarly, culminating in an education of music and poetry that teaches these ideals of courage and moderation. Physical training must be simple as a good soul that is trained in music and poetry will produce a good body (Republic, 403d). This combined with the practice of moderation and self-control in food and drink (Republic, 404c) will create the physical aptitude needed to guard the city and fight wars. Socrates ends his dialogue about the guardians’ education by emphasizing the importance of the harmony of education in music and poetry and physical training in making the soul moderate and courageous (Republic, 410d-e). Socrates wants the guardians to embody goodness and for goodness to become a natural instinct and inclination. This is then the development of a sense of shame. Guardians who are raised in this manner will feel a strong sense of shame when confronted by ideals that are opposite to their nature such as cowardice and licentiousness. Thus, it is evident that purifying these stories and correct physical training will teach the guardians courage,
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