Monday, February 6, 2012


Yep, This is my 300th update.

It's also going to be a chance for me to vent about a recent story I was told. You will understand the serendipity of this in a second.

Recently, an online professor, posted a "Discussion" topic on his forum. In it he argued, with apparent sincerity, that the film '300', based on the Frank Miller comic book, was an accurate portrayal of ancient Sparta, bottomless pits and all. Which one can suppose also means that the Persians really did have horrible goat headed, flute playing, monsters and that Xerxes really was a 9 foot tall transvestite.

I was astounded by this assertion, that some one who has multiple PhD's would make such a statement. Clearly he realizes that '300' is an effort of creative storytelling on the part of Dilios (David Wenham) to exult his fellow Spartans and assorted Greek allies to greater feats of glory on the eve of the battle of Platea? It should be clear to anyone with a half functional brain that what the character Dilios is engaging in is a fish-tale. He is exaggerating the size, composition and martial prowess of not only the Spartans who took place at the battle of Thermopylae, but also of their Persian foes.

I will freely admit that I don't actually know much about the ancient Greek city states, but I'm relatively sure that if this film had been 100% factual, not quite as many people would have been so dead set on destroying it's reputation. Perhaps he is correct and there are a few historically correct details, but I certainly would never extrapolate that out to say the entire movie is a valid representation. '300', along with films such as Braveheart and Gladiator, are designed with entertainment first and foremost. They are the modern day equivalent of Shakespeare's Histories. They take historical details, and then form them around the key plot that already exists. They aren't meant to be taken as serious scholarship, and, while it has merit to be used in a composition or literature class, certainly shouldn't be used in a History class.


Keith said...

Is it possible he wrote the post the way he did in order to get a reaction much like yours from the students? I've argued similar things I didn't believe for the purpose of generating discussion, although never so over the top.

M. D. Jackson said...

Or it could be that the professor hasn't actually seen the film. Or that he's not really a "professor"

Or he may be an idiot. There are more of them working at universities than you would think.

Brian Murphy said...

Really, he thought the Persian crab-men were historical :)?

I actually liked the scene early on in the film with the Spartans employing a phalanx and wish there was more like it. That did strike me as a (semi) accurate depiction of ancient warfare. Unarmored men fighting pitched hand-to-hand battles like they did the rest of the film would not have lasted a day.