"300": the backpacking trip

I’ve decided to rough it across southern Greece this summer, and I think I’ve got my theme: reading Thucydides’ ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’ and visiting the sites it references in order.

Now Thucydides was one cool dude – the first true historian. (Even if he did dress the story up a bit.) Imagine the scene in ancient Greece, as things got risky among the olive groves and you couldn’t even take a moment to anoint yourself with oil for fear of some half-dressed gym bunny shoving a spear between your ribs.

Thucydides (rushing into Agora, ducking spear): Hey guys, it’s getting pretty exciting around here isn’t it!

Thasos (puts down amphora): Thuce? What are you doing here? Aren’t those gold mines interesting enough for you?

Thucydides: No future in gold. The future’s in… writing about stuff!

Cimon: Great! I can’t get enough of Zeus and his homies. Those religious epics rock.

Thucydides: No, I mean actually writing down what happens! Recording actual events that may change the course of… I’ll call it ‘history’!

Thasos: Can’t people just go and look? (Dodges giant flaming tarball.) I mean, where’s the entertainment in what ‘actually happened’?

Thucydides: But think of posterity! A great city at the nexus of warring tribes, a centre of learning and enlightenment where Plato himself once taught!

Cimon: What, Athens you mean? A half-wrecked fort at the ass end of Europe with a lousy harbour and enemies at the gate? Trust me, this place is yesterday’s news. (Aside) Hey, you in the red underpants, put down my wife!

Thasos: Naw, Thuce. It’ll never catch on. Let’s stick to gods and shepherds. There’s this kid Sophocles doing some good stuff.

Cimon: I think he should at least give it a go. At least you’ll get my name right, with an S.

Thasos: OK, I’ll buy a copy. But only if you make that big Persian less scary.

Thucydides: Don’t worry. In centuries to come, they’ll just laugh at Xerxes as an oversized gay dude.

Cimon: What’s wrong with being gay, then?

Flicking through a DK Eyewitness, it seems most of the sites have survived, albeit mostly as ruins. Delphi, Thermopylae, Sparta … even the public square where Paris first got jiggy with Helen of Troy has been located, although that was some 700 years before Leonidas buckled up his battle pants. (Probably wasn’t public back then.)

All I need now are some red trunks, and I’ll be ready to film a budget remake of ‘300’! At least I won’t need suntan oil – if the sun’s too hot, I shall backpack in the shade.

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