The Bright Foundation of Liberty
a historical novel by John P. Nordin

Chapters 1-3

I Symposium
II A formal beginning
III How it started
IV The trail of Miltiades
V Drunk at the temple

VI Year of Marathon
VII The Battle of Marathon
VIII Paros expedition

VII Ostracism and Archons by lot

IX 483 - 482

X The second, greater invasion starts
XI Year of 480

XII Artemisium & Thermopylae - the gathering battle.
XIII Artemisium & Thermopylae - day 1
XIV Artemisium & Thermopylae - day 2: tragedy and retreat

XV To Salamis
XVI The shape of the coming battle
XVII Salamis

XVIII The winter and the enemy hovering

XIX To Plataea

XX Final victory at sea: Mycale

XXI Final victory on land: Plataea

XXII: The foundation laid

The battles between ancient Greece and Persia (500-479 BCE) form the background for this novel.

It examines how and why Greece won and what it meant.

Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and inventing democracy: this story was once required learning for all who sought to be well rounded. Now it is largely ignored or reduced to cliché. But the crucial years when Athens and Sparta repulsed two invasions against staggering odds is a setting both for an exciting adventure story and a story of ideas about liberty and how a free society can defend itself.

Bright Foundation of Liberty is told by a fictitious historian whose family history is entwined with these events. Like Herodotus, he recounts a story he knows first hand, but unlike Herodotus, this historian's sympathy lies with the ordinary citizens and those of genius who served them. He recounts the exhausting twenty-year struggle of battles won against all expectation, victories that become losses, difficult coordinated amphibious military operations, remarkable leaders and surprising cowardice. He writes of how his father was killed in those battles and how that changed his own life.

This is also a novel of ideas. It uses the flowing and complex style of ancient Greek to analyze how these events advanced or delayed freedom, and how the Assembly, where all could speak, was shaping and contributing to victory. Not yet fully possessed of the word democracy, the concept emerges in ways both familiar and different (example: the Greeks did not think elections were very democratic, too prone to manipulation by the wealthy. Much better to choose leaders by lot).

Interested in the classical era? See the classical page at my Greek site, The Plaka

Last modified 2/7/11; posted 12/31/04; original content © 2011, 2004 John P. Nordin