Fellow in the Context of the DRS Fellowship Program Postdoc International (POINT) at the Dahlem Humanities Center
February 2015 – April 2017
Splintered Sparta: Factions and Foreign Policy to c. 470 BC
Aideen Carty’s main research interest is the link between domestic power and foreign relations in the archaic period of Ancient Greek history. Her current project investigates the evidence for connections between foreign policies and elite factions in late-archaic Sparta. In the Persian Wars of 490-479 BC, the Spartans were portrayed as champions of liberty against a Persian invasion which threatened Greek freedom. In addition, Greek historians and philosophers of the classical period believed that Sparta had overcome disunity, factional strife, and bad government in its earliest history, to become a paragon of political stability, balance, and restraint. Arguing that evidence from the same sources belies these myths, Aideen proposes a challenging hypothesis: that a consistently pro-Persian faction was behind many of the Spartans’ political and military decisions throughout the late-archaic and early-classical periods. With domestic factions split on foreign policy, the traditional view of a unified Spartan opposition to Persia can be shown as another aspect of what is known as the ‘Spartan Mirage’.
After years of teaching, Aideen undertook her PhD in Classics in University College Dublin with a scholarship from the Irish Research Council (2009-2012). The subject of her doctoral dissertation has now become the book Polycrates, Tyrant of Samos: New Light on Archaic Greece (Franz Steiner: Stuttgart 2015). She has lectured and tutored in Ancient History and Ancient Greek. She is also passionate about bringing Classics to a wider community and has been heavily involved in the Classical Association of Ireland, serving as Secretary of the central council from 2012.