Sparta in the Messenian War,

a Sparta still in formation,

coming to terms with a new Constitution....


Messenia is in revolt, and the Messenians have been out-witting Sparta's crack troops. On the advice of Delphi, Sparta requests that Athens appoint a new Supreme Commander for Sparta's army. Athens intentionally selects an obscure schoolmaster unlikely to help Sparta win the war: Tyrtaios. He is lame, has no military experience, and everything he has ever heard about Sparta makes it the last place on earth he wants to live....

The Spartan officer Agesandros is horrified by the "joke" Athens has played on Sparta by appointing Tyrtaios Sparta's supreme Polemarch, but as the son of a notorious brawler and drunk,  his voice counts for little. Worse: his sister is married to a helot and his nephew appears to have joined the revolt.


The widow Alethea, the daughter of a Spartan nobleman, took refuge in Athens during the "time of troubles." She alone understands how Tyrtaios is suffering in Sparta. Yet when her growing sons fall foul of the authorities, she finds herself increasingly under pressure to remarry, and Agesandros is the most obvious suitor.

Are they Singing in Sparta?