Introduction to Written in Stone

Alright, so I’ve been tinkering around with an idea for a story.

As some of you may know, archaeology is a big hobby of mine.  And my absolute favorite ancient civilization was Sparta.  And for years, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing an erotica story that takes place in an alternate universe, where Sparta rose to be the dominant world power throughout history, instead of England.

Of course, in order to make that work, a few things needed to be changed.  There are very clear reasons why Sparta failed, most of it having to do with the unbelievable amounts of racism and elitism that ran rampant through Spartan society.

So if anyone wants to create a present-day universe in which Sparta succeeded, that has to be toned down to the point that they can function independently of the other two races inhabiting Sparta.

They were such elitists, thinking that any kind of commercial work was beneath them, that when the economy started to tank, many of them couldn’t pay the syssitia membership fees (think of it like a mandatory country club), and if they were not members of a syssitia, they lost their citizenship status.

And I mean, I’m all for high standards, but there’s got to be a limit.  Sparta as a society valued military prowess and nothing else.  If a citizen wasn’t a great soldier, it didn’t matter how smart he was or where his strengths lay.  I mean, you could take Stephen Hawking.  The Spartans wouldn’t care about his intelligence or what his mind was capable of.  All they would’ve cared about was the fact that he’s not physically capable.

And yeah, that’s a pretty narrow mindset, and it doesn’t really lend itself to a population that could function on its own, without the perioikoi and helots to support them and keep the economy running.

Add to this the fact that they married much later than pretty much anyone else in history.  Not only that, but because military prowess was more important than relationships, husband and wife didn’t live together until the husband was 30.  They had to sneak out at night to be together.  Which doesn’t lend itself to high birth rates.

They also didn’t assimilate the cultures they conquered (ie, they didn’t necessarily rape everything with a vagina, but that’s more because they had very unique views of sex for the time) or allow immigrants citizenship, except in very few circumstances and only with approval of one of the kings.  Pretty much the only way you could become a Spartan citizen was by having Spartan parents.

Combine that with the fact that they were utterly, hopelessly monogamous, and pretty prudish, actually, compared to the rest of Greece at the time (and pretty much every other civilization, it goes back to their unique and extremely progressive view of sex, that it was an act to be enjoyed with a partner as an equal, rather than a display of power over a powerless, uneducated woman or small child), you just didn’t have a whole lot of little Spartan babies running around.

I mean, there were a lot of factors.  I can kind of feel myself starting a massive, 5,000 word ramble, so I’m just going to stop here and say that, while there was a lot right with the way they saw the world, there was a lot wrong with it, and it destroyed them.  And I, being the anthropologist that I am, took great, childlike delight in rewriting the last 2,500-ish years of their history to make it work.

Which at some point, I may actually organize into something legible enough that other people can understand.

But in the meantime, I’m going to use this to sort of introduce the story I’m writing, as well as provide a glossary, since some of the terms aren’t easily understood or pronounced.  And I’m going to publish Parts One and Two immediately after I publish this, so it’ll make sense, I promise.

The story follows a woman who has risen to prominence in modern-day Sparta (I had to play around with city and country names to avoid any connection with modern places, but finally I got bored with that. We can all understand that this is fiction, right?  And I cannot point to pretty much anything on a modern map of Greece.  Every place I used, I took from maps that were relevant in Classical Spartan history), despite not being a full-blooded Spartan.

In Sparta, feminism doesn’t exist.  They aren’t even familiar with the concept, except as an abstract thing that some other countries have.  Even in ancient Sparta, women had just as much freedom as men, were educated just as rigorously, and while they could not participate in the government, that’s quickly and easily fixed in my fake history.  Women were always considered equal to the men.

Sexism among Spartans isn’t a thing.  It’s replaced with racism.  And the main character experiences difficulties because she’s not a full Spartan, but she struggles with it herself, from time to time.  It’s apparent that she takes more pride in her Spartan heritage than her perioeci heritage (and that’s a complicated thing, which I’ll get into at some point in the story).

As in ancient Sparta, the country has three main classes (or races).  The Spartans, those of Dorian descent, we all know about.  The “middle class,” the free and autonomous population that drove the economy was the perioikoi.  And the last class were the slaves, the helots.

To make a modern-day Sparta work, that overly prudish attitude had to go.  And just because of the nature of Spartans, that was another relatively easy fix.  I toned down the racism, but I can’t get rid of it completely without turning the society into something completely different (besides, a society without flaws is boring to write, and I’m writing this just as much for my own entertainment as for anyone who reads it).  So Spartans are still racist and elitist, and the goal of every Spartan citizen is to make more Spartans.

Once that responsibility has been fulfilled, however, no one fucking cares.  What adults want to do, as long as they have made and continue to make adequate contributions to the State, is their own business.

They don’t have words for homosexuality or heterosexuality, because it’s just not something they care about.  Everyone has a preference, but very few are so far to one end or the other of the spectrum that they cannot enjoy sex with either gender.

Marriage is still a big deal, and Spartans are still primarily monogamous.  However, they began taking hints from places like Rome, and helots became privately owned, and it became common and accepted for married Spartans to have sex with their slaves.

Because of a shit ton of economic shit I’ll get into at some point, the vast majority of privately owned slaves are male, so regardless of a Spartan’s sexual preference, that’s pretty much their only option.

I’ve tried to use the names to help illustrate the different races.  At some point, I’ll get into cultural differences between the perioikoi and Spartans, but for now, I used very different name origins to try and illustrate just how different they are.

Spartans use Greek names, while perioikoi have English names, and the helots, with some exceptions, have Celtic names.

 

Glossary of Characters

Athanasiadi(s): (ATH-a-na-see-A-dee or dees) Charis’ last name is Athanasiadi.  Men and women’s last names are slightly different, the male version is Athanasiadis.

Charis: (CARE-iss, where “iss” rhymes with “miss”) the main character

Cullen: (CULL-in) Charis’ slave

Dryas: (DRY-as) Kieran’s first owner

Ilya: (ILL-ya) Charis’ husband

Kieran: (Key-AIR-an) a young slave, the story is told primarily from his perspective

Rowyn: (ROW-in) Charis’ slave

Taber: (TAY-ber) Ilya’s slave

 

Glossary of Terms

Agoge: (A-GOJ, long O sound) the private Spartan-run school that all Spartan children must graduate from to be granted citizenship.

Agora: (Ah-GOR-a) A mall

Helot: (HELL-ot) the race of slaves

Mothax: (MO-thax) A person of mixed Spartan and perioeci descent

Neodamode: (Nee-OH-da-mode) a helot that has been freed

Perioeci: (Pear-i-OH-ess-ee) the autonomous middle class

Perioikoi: (Pear-i-OH-i-koi) plural of perioeci

Symposiarch: (Sim-POE-zee-ark) the owner of a symposium

Symposium: (Sim-POE-zee-um) Something like a mandatory social club.  Not belonging to one does not cause a Spartan to lose citizenship, but is looked down on and carries a big social stigma.

Trophimi: (Tro-FEE-mee) a mothax who has graduated from agoge and been granted full citizenship as a Spartan

8 thoughts on “Introduction to Written in Stone

  1. There is very little fiction based on Spartan society. It would be curious to find some.

  2. Mr Fire says:

    I assume, Jen, you have read a fair amount of Hellenic history, and so some of what I’m going to tell, you already will know. Per Thucydides, prior to the beginning of the Athenian Empire the Spartans were the primary arbiter of relations among the various Hellenic city states. It was only partly because they had the most powerful army. The other city states trusted them both to be fair in their decisions and to not be interested in ruling them directly, and aside from Laconia and Messenia, from which areas they drew the Helots, they never did. It will be interesting to see how this is reflected in your story.

    After the Peloponnesian War the Spartans cracked down on Athens, imposing an oligarchic government. A few years later the Athenians deposed the oligarchs and restored their democracy. A decade or so after that Thebes went to war against Sparta and won, breaking its power forever, and likely contributing to the decline of Hellenic culture, subordination to Macedon, and the ultimate takeover by the Romans. Sparta in its glory may well have been the glue that held the Hellenes together.

  3. S.R. Taylor says:

    Wonderful Idea, Love the first two parts

  4. Coyote from Orion says:

    Wow. This is fascinating. History was my 2nd major. I have long preferred Sparta to Athens.

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