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Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition$
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Meredith Safran

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440844

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.001.0001

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The Dueling Greek Golden Ages of 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

The Dueling Greek Golden Ages of 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

(p.101) 5 The Dueling Greek Golden Ages of 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition

Seán Easton

Edinburgh University Press

The first of three chapters examining Athens’ golden-age legacy considers a problem in 300: Rise of an Empire (2014): given the franchise’s vehement Laconophilia (love of Sparta), this sequel to 300 struggles to acknowledge Athens’ indispensable contribution to theallied Greek victory against the invading Persian army. If the Athenians can claim credit for both Greek victory over Persia and the invention of social institutions and cultural production that flourished in the subsequent decades—the basis for the “golden age of Greece” at the root of “Western civilization”—what remains for the Spartans? As Easton elucidates, 300: Rise of an Empire invalidates Athens’ material grandeur by fetishizing the city’s historical destruction during the Persian Wars, including through the a historical fall of the “Athena the Defender” statue on the world-famous Acropolis. At the same time, the themes of the Parthenon’s famous sculptural program(the contest between Athena and Poseidon; heroes battling hybrid monsters, including centaurs and Amazons; and the birth of Athena) haunt the film’s presentation of conflicts between the Greeks, represented by the Athenian general Themistocles and Leonidas’ Spartan widow Queen Gorgo, and the Persians, represented by the Great King Xerxes and especially the adopted Greek-turned-Persian Artemisia.

Keywords:   300: Rise of an Empire, Themistocles, Laconophilia, Athens’ golden-age legacy, “Athena the Defender”, Parthenon sculptural program, hybrid monsters, Artemisia, Persian Wars, Gorgo

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