CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
In the Green Room

Historian Eric Robinson

I Want to Travel Back in Time to Ancient Sparta

Eric Robinson is Professor of History at Indiana University and the author of the books The First Democracies: Early Popular Government Outside Athens (1997), Ancient Greek Democracy (2004), and Democracy Beyond Athens: Popular Government in the Greek Classical Age (2011). Before joining a Zócalo/Getty “Open Art” panel discussion entitled “How Does Democracy Survive Demagoguery?” he talked in the Zócalo green room about Sparta, Indiana ice cream, and his study.

Q:
If you had a time travel machine, which time and place would you first visit?

A:
Definitely 5th century B.C. Greece. Which polis in Greece? I think Sparta would be pretty fascinating, because we don’t know as much about the Spartans as we do about the Athenians.

Q:
Who was the greatest Roman politician?

A:
I’ll say Augustus, Octavian Caesar.

Q:
Who was the greatest Greek politician?

A:
Cleisthenes. He brought democracy to Athens.

Q:
What’s the best place to eat in Bloomington?

A:
I would say the Chocolate Moose, an ice cream place.

Q:
What student habit most annoys you?

A:
Not doing the reading before coming to class.

Q:
What’s the hardest thing about studying war?

A:
You don’t want to do direct personal research. And it changes an awful lot over the centuries. I do sometimes work on ancient warfare. It’s not something you want to have a lot of personal experience with.

Q:
Who was the last politician, living or dead, who inspired you?

A:
It must have been when I was younger. I remember John Anderson, an independent candidate from long ago.

Q:
What salad dressing best describes you?

A:
Let’s say ranch—smooth, creamy and flavorful.

Q:
Where do you go to be alone?

A:
My study. Unless my 10-year-old son comes in to use my computer.

*Photo by Jake Fabricius.