Gates of Fire


Steven Pressfield

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The Spartiaes are full Spartans, or Peers—full citizens and warriors of Sparta, unlike helots such as Xeo. read analysis of Spartiates


Citizens of the Greek city-state Sparta, which is also known in Greek as Lakedaemon. read analysis of Lakedaemonians


Helots make up the class of serfs created by the Lakedaemonians from the inhabitants of Messenia and Helos they enslaved centuries earlier. Rooster is the best-known helot in the novel. read analysis of Helot


The agoge is the program in which Spartan boys are brought up—what Xeo describes as the “notorious and pitiless thirteen-year training regimen which turned boys into Spartan warriors.” read analysis of Agoge


Polis is the general term for a Greek city-state, the center of culture and identity. Xeo suffers a loss of identity when his polis, Astakos, is destroyed at the beginning of the novel, and he… read analysis of Polis
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Katalepsis, or “madness,” is “that yielding to fear or anger which robs an army of order and reduces it to a rabble.” Throughout the book, Dienekes is concerned with the study of fear and… read analysis of Katalepsis


Andreia is “manly valor,” the highest Spartan virtue which all warriors seek to embody on the battlefield. Women, too, can display andreia; such characters as Arete are considered paragons of this virtue because of… read analysis of Andreia


The krypteia are a secret force of Spartiates who eliminate troublemakers—especially potential traitors—by cover of night. Rooster is nearly killed by the krypteia, including Polynikes, before Arete bravely intervenes. read analysis of Krypteia