In July of 2021 at Plataea in Greece, some dedicated reenactors will attempt to portray the cultures of Ancient Greece and Persia, and some aspects of the battle that changed the world.
The photo above was taken at Plataea in 2014; that’s me in hoplite panoply, with Chris Verwijmeren of Holland as an archer, Jevon Garrett (USA) as a Greek gentleman as well as Giannis and Smaro Kadaglou of Alexandroupolis, Greece as a hoplite and Greek woman of 500BCE (both a little hidden by my shield). The photo exemplifies almost everything I believe about reenacting, despite it’s flaws; inclusivity; careful research, location, experiment. Those of you who read this blog (hello! I’m back) know I use another photo shot the same day as my signature…
I have a great deal to say about reenacting the Battle of Plataea and the cultures of the people who were there, and blogs are short. I’ll do my best to encapsulate what I have to say.
- Why reenact Plataea? That’s easy. It was one of the largest battles in the Ancient World, with perhaps 100,000 men on each side; it also set the benchmark throughout the period for the clash between perceptions of ‘East’ and ‘West’ and cultural divides from 480 BCE continue to this day. It might be trite to say ‘the events of that day saved the ‘freedom of Greece from the tyranny of the Great King,’ especially as the Great King was a pretty good ruler. But the events of the period from the Ionian Revolt to the Battle of Plataea changed the world.
- Why is reenacting always about war? It isn’t. Our event will feature a camp that will hold within it dozens of educational stations on everything from cooking ancient food to how law-courts worked. I’m hoping that this time we’ll give equal time to the Persian-Iranian culture and story and have both music and dance as well. But yes, we’ll do our level best to explain and even portray aspects of the battle, too.
- How do you reenact a battle that had 200,000 participants and covered more than 4 miles of front with a handful of people? (Great question). So, three things here. The first is that WE ARE RECRUITING and if you want to come to Plataea in kit in 2021 you really do have time to make everything, save money, and come. I mean you. Don’t make that face. You can look at the pictures on Instagram, or you can be in the pictures. Second thing; reenacting isn’t just for the spectators, it is for the participants, and if we can make it ‘experiential; that is to say, if we can reproduce the experience of being a hoplite at Plataea even for three minutes, it’ll be a good event. And those experiences may not be fighting. Marching in a a column on the original fields, moving as the Athenians and the Spartans moved on the last night of the battle; those will be very real experiences. And last, even with a couple of hundred reenactors, we can make a remarkable show for the spectators.
So, over the next two years, we will recruit people; we will build kit from the Greek Aspis (the big shield) which is not easy to make, to the clothes, cook pots, and tents; we will train, both physically, because reenacting is an extreme sport, and as a team, so we can safely execute the maneuvers of the phalanx and the sparpabara; we will plan a fairly complex load-out and air-freight from North America to Greece, while also planning the renting of horses, the movement of groups from across Europe and Asia and Australia; we’ll plan buses from airports and food purchase and delivery and hotels and swimming and showers and restaurants and tours for reenactors who’ve never been to Greece before… Oh, and dozens of meetings; with each other, and with various elements of local and federal Greek governments and archaeologists and journalists and anyone else who wants a piece.
I’ve done this before. Or rather, and this matters, WE have done this before. We’re a team. There are about twenty five of us; we put on Marathon in 2011 and then we did Marathon again in 2015 and now we’re going for the Gold. We have leaders in Australia and the UK and France and Belgium and Germany and Canada and the USA and Spain and Italy; I’m hoping this time we get people from Turkey and even Iran.
You should come. And you can follow our progress here as we march to Plataea. This blog will show the training, the martial arts, the kit-bashing, as well as guest blogs by other reenactors who are attending, from my group and many others, all over the world. The event is two years and two months away…
And if you want to come…
And in the UK Midlands and south) go to http://www.hoplites.org/
Northern UK http://www.comitatus.net/
If you are not in the UK or North America, contact me at christian@boarstooth (dot) net and I’ll find you the group nearest to you.