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From: "Chris" 
Subject: (urth) Latro and the Persian army
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 17:50:07 +0000

I've finally finished reading Herodotus this week, which was rewarding in 
and of itself, but somehow I couldn't help but keep my eye out for things 
concerning those historical characters which also appeared in Latro's story. 
And while this hasn't exactly inspired me to construct any bizarre theories 
about the story, there was one thing that struck me as curious that I 
wondered if anyone had an "obvious" explanation for.

Essentially, the assumption I made from the story is that Latro's injury and 
his offense to Demeter occurred during the battle of Plataea. Having read 
Herodotus' vague description of the action there, however, he provides some 
specifics that make this difficult to reconcile. The Greek army had split 
into two divisions, according to his account - the Spartans, who were 
engaged near the shrine of Demeter, and the Athenians who were some distance 
away. The Persian army also split, and it's stated that native Persians led 
by Mardonius pursued the Spartans, while the foreign contingent coming along 
after fought the Athenians & co. This implies that for Latro to have been 
fighting near the shrine of Demeter during the battle of Plataea, he must 
have been in the Persian contingent; not only that, he would have to have 
been in the leading elements among the Immortals and Mardonius' hand-picked 
bodyguard, since the rout began before the full Persian contingent was able 
to engage.

It's not impossible to resolve this, but it does seem to make a difference 
how you choose to explain it.

One of the first things that occurred to me was that Latro may have acquired 
his curse at a different shrine of Demeter - the Persians had sacked the one 
at Eleusis earlier, whereas at Plataea the shrine remained supposedly 
untouched. If this were the case then Latro may have lost his memory quite 
some time before the battle of Plataea where he received his head injury 
(which would then be incidental and misleading).

Another possibility is that Latro may really have been close to Mardonius. 
It doesn't seem unreasonable that he would be accorded some honor if he 
really was the one to kill Leonidas. And Latro's vague memory places him 
somewhere not too far away from Xerxes during the battle of Thermopylae, so 
perhaps he had a position of honor even back then. That, however, makes him 
a prominent enough figure that it seems unusual that no one thought to 
mention him in the various histories.

Any thoughts?


"Indeed it is hard to grasp why it hasn't already given birth... to its 
hero, that demon who will stage without scruple that horrifying play that 
reduces the whole age to laughter and to unconsciousness of the fact that it 
is laughing at itself." -- Soren Kierkegaard

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