Institute for the Study of Slavery

Graphic novel portrays Sparta from the helots' viewpoint

The author Kieron Gillen, author of the comics series, THREE, visited the University recently to take part in a Round Table with staff from Nottingham’s Institute for the Study of Slavery (ISOS) and its Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies (CSPS). THREE, a tale of three helot slaves and their resistance to their Spartan masters, has now been published as a graphic novel.

Kieron Gillen wrote the novel in collaboration with Professor Stephen Hodkinson, Director of ISOS and CSPS, who acted as his historical consultant, commenting in detail on the draft text and images, drawing on his research on Sparta’s helot population and the Spartiate master class. In response to the mythologised warlike Sparta of Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300 – the source of Zack Snyder’s film – Gillen wanted to paint a picture of Sparta which reflected the realities of everyday life from the standpoint of its unfree helot population and put them centre stage in the novel’s action.

At the Round Table – held as part of the Classical Association’s 2014 annual conference held at the University of Nottingham – Kieron and Stephen discussed their collaboration and the complex navigation required between their desire for historical accuracy and the demands of the action-hero comics genre. Chairing the Round Table was Dr Lynn Fotheringham (Department of Classics), who initially put Kieron and Stephen in contact with each other and who has published on Frank Miller’s 300 and its omission of the ‘darker’ sides of Spartan culture like the helots.

For more details of the Round Table discussion, see Tara de Cozar’s four-part blog and storify of her live tweets from the session. Kieron Gillen’s THREE, published by Image Comics, is available as a graphic novel from comics and general bookstores.

Posted on Wednesday 7th May 2014

Institute for the Study of Slavery

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