What do particular military customs tell you about particular societies? What distinguishes a “warrior culture” from other cultures? How and why did the Romans meld religion and patriotism in warfare? How could such melding possibly affect soldier morale? If the purpose of military conflict is to win, why do cultures impose military rules of behavior? (In other words, why not employ any methods necessary?)
Tyrtaeus, The Spartan Creed
[Tyrtaeus (7th Century B.C.E.) was a Spartan citizen who wrote celebratory works reflecting his pride in the famous warrior culture of his polis].
I would not say anything for a man nor take account of him for any speed of his feet or wrestling skill he might have, not if he had the size of a Cyclops and strength to go with it, not if he could outrun Bóreas, the North Wind of Thrace, not if he were more handsome and gracefully formed than Tithónos, or had more riches than Midas had, or Kínyras too, not if he were more of a king than Tantalid Pelops, or had the power of speech and persuasion Adrastos had – not if he had all splendors except for a fighting spirit. For no man ever proves himself a good man in war unless he can endure to face the blood and the slaughter, go close against the enemy and fight with his hands.
Here is courage, mankind’s finest possession, here is the noblest prize that a young man can endeavor to win, and it is a good thing his city and all the people share with him when a man plants his feet and stands in the foremost spears relentlessly, all thought of foul flight completely forgotten, and has well trained his heart to be steadfast and to endure, and with words encourages the man who is stationed beside him. Here is a man who proves himself to be valiant in war. With a sudden rush he turns to flight the rugged battalions of the enemy, and sustains the beating waves of assault. And he who so falls among the champions and loses his sweet life, so blessing with honor his...