Gates of Fire

by

Steven Pressfield

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Arete is Dienekes’s wife. She was first married to Iatrokles. She has several daughters but is subsequently barren, never bearing a son. She is an audacious woman, shaping Spartan events behind the scenes and commanding men’s respect. She intervenes to save her nephew Rooster’s son’s life, revealing that the baby is actually Dienekes’s. She has a maternal fondness for Xeo.

Arete Quotes in Gates of Fire

The Gates of Fire quotes below are all either spoken by Arete or refer to Arete. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam edition of Gates of Fire published in 1998.
Chapter 20 Quotes

“The gods make us love whom we will not,” the lady declared, “and disrequite whom we will. They slay those who should live and spare those who deserve to die. They give with one hand and take with the other, answerable only to their own unknowable laws […] Now, inspired by blind impulse,” she spoke toward me, “I have saved the life of this boy, my brother’s bastard’s son, and lost my husband’s in the process.”

Related Characters: Arete (speaker), Xeones, Dienekes , Dekton (“Rooster”), Iatrokles, Idotychides
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Gates of Fire LitChart as a printable PDF.
Gates of Fire PDF

Arete Character Timeline in Gates of Fire

The timeline below shows where the character Arete appears in Gates of Fire. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Dienekes goes on to tell Xeo the story of his marriage to his wife, Arete. Arete had first been married to Iatrokles, but when Iatrokles learned that Dienekes had always... (full context)
Chapter 13
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...Dienekes’ peaceful cottage on the outskirts of an adjacent village, finding Dienekes’ wife, the lady Arete, awake, along with her four daughters. With them is Alexandros’s mother, Paraleia. She immediately begins... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...King, the ephors, and the Laws are in charge. Paraleia casts a fleeting smile at Arete and says, “Surely this must be so.” Xeo gets the message, “that if I didn’t... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Kingship, Loyalty, and Freedom Theme Icon
After Paraleia departs, Arete invites Xeo to stay for some bread and wine. As he eats, she asks him... (full context)
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete then asks Xeo if he knows what the krypteia is. It’s a secret society among... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete gives Xeo more wine and asks him about his past. Xeo talks about his own... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete then surprises Xeo by admitting that the Spartan Idotychides was not only Rooster’s father, but... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete tells Xeo that the krypteia knows about Rooster’s identity and his allegiance. The watch Xeo,... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Before he goes, Xeo has a question, too, “for a friend.” He tells Arete about having been spoken to by Apollo. He wants to know if such a thing... (full context)
Chapter 15
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Kingship, Loyalty, and Freedom Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Rooster’s wife, Harmonia, bears a son named Messenieus. Arete assists at the delivery of her grand-nephew. Xeo escorts her home, noticing the mixture of... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Dienekes sends Xeo to his house, with a message requesting Arete and their daughters to join him for a walk. Xeo watches them from a distance.... (full context)
Chapter 17
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Suddenly, to everyone’s shock, Arete appears in the grove. Ignoring the men’s protests, she seizes Rooster’s infant son and wants... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete gets the sobbing Harmonia to admit that Dienekes is the infant’s father. The Peers refuse... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete stops short and, seeing the Peers frozen in consternation, quietly implores her husband. Staring into... (full context)
Chapter 20
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Two days before the march-out, Arete had summoned Xeo in private, on a “county day,” or festival during which the Peers... (full context)
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete asks Xeo what happened when he accompanied Dienekes on embassy to Athens last month—did he... (full context)
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
When the Three Hundred were summoned to Thermopylae, Arete says, she finally saw “the true perversity of the gods’ plan.” If her husband had... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete goes on, musing that women of other cities think that Spartan women are made of... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Arete turns to Xeo and tells him that it isn’t too late for him. He isn’t... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
On the morning of the march-out, Xeo watches Arete solemnly bid Dienekes goodbye. King Leonidas does the same with his wife, Gorgo. Xeo bids... (full context)
Chapter 23
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...person who possesses pure andreia, more than any other he has known, is his wife, Arete, and Alexandros’s mother, Paraleia. Dienekes suspects that the women’s “higher valor” holds the key to... (full context)
Chapter 27
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...the option to stray.” She opens the letter Xeo brought her, which is written in Arete’s hand, but she tucks it out of sight. Xeo studies his cousin, now noting the... (full context)
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...Xeo that everything he has done has, in fact, protected her. She tells him that Arete’s letter is a promise that Xeo’s death will be honored. As they take their leave... (full context)
Chapter 36
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...wives and mothers of the Three Hundred had been asked to come to Dienekes’ and Arete’s house. When they had gathered, Paraleia began telling the group of a conversation she’d had... (full context)