The World of Christian Cameron

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Next to Kineas and Srayanka, Philokles is my favorite character. In my mind, he was originally from Lesvos, from Mytilene or Mythimna, the two cities that dominated the island during the Classical period. My wife and I took our honeymoon there and returned two years later (and, I hope, will be going there again next year). However, the fact of his being a Spartan (and overweight) simply rolled off my pen as I wrote — as Homer liked to say, some God put it there, and I ran with it.

Sparta was still a major power in Greece in the fourth century BC, although the defeat and death of the king against Antipater in 330 BC continued the diminution of the Spartan legend that had started with the Theban victory at Leuktra.

We still don’t know much about Spartan society, and most of what we do know comes (as usual) from Xenophon, who lived there. In Hellenika, he says that one of the finest bodies of men was that of the Spartan bastards of members of the officer class (Spartiates). As he tells of the conspiracy of one of those ill-born warriors to overthrow the system because of his bitterness, I decided to make Philokles one of those bastards — a man who has received the full and bitter training of the Spartan and yet is never going to be welcome in an elite mess.

Rather like Ataelus, Philokles is a man who has lost his roots — or perhaps never had any — and finds them with Kineas.