“… just at the beginning of spring, a Theban force a little over three hundred strong… made an armed entry into Plataea, a town in alliance with Athens. The gates were opened to them by a Plataean called Nauklydes, who, with his party, had invited them in, meaning to put to death the citizens…bring over the city to Thebes, and thus obtain power for themselves.” —Thucydides
The above quote reads like a contemporary news story. It could be the Sudan or Libya or Afghanistan right now. It has all the makings of a good thriller too—treacherous politicians and a vicious attack that (these days) would be called an act of terrorism.
Every novel begins with a kernel of an idea, and this short passage from Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War was the inspiration for my novel Sons of Zeus (the first book in The Warrior Trilogy).
The sneak-attack on the city-state of Plataea takes up only a few paragraphs in Thucydides’s stupendous work, but it was a historical event of monumental proportions: It was the “Pearl Harbor” of Ancient Greece and it ignited twenty-seven years of all-out war between mighty Athens and Sparta. This bloody conflict (in which all rules of Greek warfare were cast aside one by one) would eventually bring the the vast Athenian Empire to its knees.
At the time of the invasion Plataea was already a renowned spot in the Greek World. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone (be they Spartan, Athenian or Syracusan) who hadn’t heard of the place, or even visited there as a tourist. For it was on the verdant plains of The Oxlands that the allied Greek army held off an army comprised of at least half a million Persian invaders, and routed them with barely a fifth of those numbers.
At the victory of Plataea can be traced the beginning of the so-called “Golden Age” of Greek civilization. And with the events that occurred there almost fifty years after that triumph, the seeds were sewn for its eventual ending. The Peloponnesian War destroyed Athens and weakened “victorious” Sparta so much that they too would fall to a new empire just a generation later—the Empire of Alexander the Great.
The democratic independent city-state of Plataea, however, was the first victim of the agonizing Peloponnesian War (a war in which the dubious first recorded case of genocide in western civilization took place).
In The Warrior Trilogy I will chronicle the people of Plataea and their exciting and true tale of betrayal, revenge, survival and sacrifice. It’s the untold story of one of the most valiant fights in the history of humankind.
(Sons of Zeus, the first book in The Warrior Trilogy, will be published in hardcover on June 4th, 2013 by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)