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The Invincible Mindset | Short Story | Anthony Thomas Voglino

The Invisible Mindset tells a story of a vibrant young man in the Greek city of Sparta with distorted belief about pain. Pawners Paper Magazine

The Invisible Mindset tells a story of a vibrant young man in the Greek city of Sparta with distorted belief about pain, and how his encounter with real-life experiences misshapen his illimitable mind which deceptively measured him to be impervious to pain.

Spartan helmet


Leonidas was born in the Greek city-state of Sparta in the year 446 B.C. At this time Sparta was both very militant and very powerful. The Spartans believed that the world was theirs to do with as they pleased. If anyone interfered with their plans for the world, they did not hesitate to flex their military strength. Furthermore, they didn’t believe in showing their enemies mercy.

Like all other Spartan boys of this period, Leonidas was raised in a communal barrack. He never knew his biological parents, nor did he care to know them. Families and family life did not exist in ancient Sparta. Spartan society was organized around realizing an invincible military machine in its quest to be master of all. Such a society resembled an army training camp more than a city per se.

As soon as the Spartan children were able to walk, their instruction in the art of war began. As tykes, Spartan children were exposed to, and came to like, weapons of various kinds. Slowly, as these children grew, they began to compete in activities that fostered their development of battle skills. Some of these activities included wrestling, boxing, and running. In addition, a strong sense of discipline was instilled in these Spartan children at an early age.

Since the Spartan leaders did not want their city-states’ children to be squeamish, bloodshed and pain were included as part of the regimen of these children. Frequently, Spartan warriors would display combat technique as they slay prisoners of war in front of the Spartan children. Such displays not only schooled these children in combat, but it also accustomed them to bloodshed. As a natural consequence of their aggressive training, pain often surfaced in the daily lives of these children. With regard to pain, the Spartan elders taught their city-state’s children to not only ignore it, but also to fight through it. Pain management was widely revered in ancient Sparta.

Leonidas was a stellar pupil and he excelled in many areas. At an early age, Leonidas excelled at using knives, swords, and spears. His physique was also magnificent. He was strong and lean. Furthermore, Leonidas had superior skills at improvising, especially during combat. Because of his ability, the Spartan instructors would often single him out as a model of excellence to the other students.

In his search of mastery over all, Leonidas sought to go above and beyond the teachings of the Spartan elders. Leonidas sought perfection in every way. One area that was important to him was pain management. Leonidas held the mindset that he was impervious to pain. Leonidas sought mastery over pain in all situations. Resistance to pain was often part of his consciousness.

Leonidas fought imaginary pain in his mind, in his sleep, and in his dreams. When real pain surfaced in his life, he fought to mentally tolerate it. Leonidas was very proud that, for much of his life, he was able to withstand all the pain that he had ever received. As such, with regard to pain, he saw himself as invincible.

Now and then the Spartan teachers would conduct informal talks with their pupils. During these talks the teachers would elicit the Spartan way from their students. On one such occasion, a Spartan teacher named Didaskolos elicited responses from Leonidas and another student named Androcles. The two youngsters were just 13 years old at the time.

“Androcles, what is the purpose of life?” asked Didaskolos.

“To glorify the state!” answered Androcles with authority.

“Correct!” confirmed Disdaskolos. “Leonidas!”

“Yes!” responded Leonidas.

“Do you have anything to add?” enquired Didaskolos.

“No!” laconically replied Leonidas.

“Leonidas, how do we glorify the state?” asked Didaskolos.

“We crush our enemies and subjugate them beneath us!” firmly stated Leonidas.

“And how do we achieve that?’ further asked Didaskolos.

“With a weapon, with our bare hands, or by any means possible!” stated Leonidas.

“Yes, Leonidas. And what of mercy?” asked Didaskolos.

“Mercy is for the weak! It has no place in Spartan society!” replied Leonidas.

“What must we be in all situations, Leonidas?” asked Didaskolos.

“Invincible!” replied Leonidas assertively.

“That’s right. Young rulers of the world, remember these words,” stated Didaskolos.

Although Leonidas held the mindset that he was immune to pain, he had never really been tested in extreme cases. He was still young and had never fought in an actual battle. Eager to prove to himself that he could withstand any form of pain, he looked forward to the challenge of battle. When Leonidas reached the age of 15, this opportunity came his way.

In the year 431 B.C. the Peloponnesian War erupted. Sparta and its allies pitted themselves against the Athenian Empire. In this long and bloody war both sides attempted to gain mastery over parts of Greece. The very first engagement of this war was fought on land outside of Argos. Argos was a Greek city-state which lay somewhat between Sparta and Athens.

As the competing armies gathered in an open field at a distance from each other, Heliodoros, the Spartan commander, rallied his troops with a few words. “We are the best warriors in all of Greece! We are the best trained and the most intelligent! Let us vanquish our inferior foe and show no mercy on the battlefield today! Go out there and show Greece and the world who are the masters of all!”

On the day of his first battle, Leonidas was very excited. He was eager to glorify the Spartan state and to confirm his own personal immunity to pain. He did not care if he lived or if he died as long as he served Sparta and proved to be impervious to pain. As the armies of both sides collided, Leonidas got out of the blocks quickly. Amidst the chaotic fray Leonidas fought savagely. Armed with a sword and a shield, Leonidas scored early points for the Spartan side.

Slashing his way through the crowd, Leonidas shed copious amounts of Athenian blood. Many Athenians fell due to his aggressive sword work. Fifteen minutes into the battle, Leonidas received a shoulder wound by an Athenian blade. Although his shoulder hurt, Leonidas ignored the pain and fought through it.

At one point there was complete pandemonium on the battlefield. As Leonidas was lifting his shield to parry away an Athenian blade, he felt an extreme pain in his lower back. He had been impaled by an Athenian spear on the left side of his lower back. While trying to mentally manage his pain, Leonidas fell to the ground. Blood was everywhere and Leonidas began to sweat profusely. The pain that Leonidas felt was so severe that he was unable to tolerate it. Leonidas had been broken and his only desire was to get relief from his pain.

As the Athenian wielding the spear impaled in Leonidas’ back applied more pressure, Leonidas lost consciousness. Soon Leonidas lay on the battlefield as if he were dead. Not long afterwards the Spartan side won the battle and the Athenian army retreated. When a calmness came to the battlefield, the Spartans gathered their wounded. When they came across Leonidas, they found that he was not dead, but just wounded. Subsequently, Leonidas was transported to the Spartan encampment and treated for his wounds.

Two days after the battle, Leonidas regained consciousness. Although he felt some pain from his wounded back, he rebounded back to his senses. Leonidas was very disappointed at this time! For the first time in his life he had lost his mastery over pain. The unthinkable had happened. Somehow he had been broken. The young Spartan with the invincible mindset had not been so invincible!



About The Writer

Anthony Thomas Voglino is a graduate of Boston University, where he received a BA in philosophy. Although he is a manager for a company that sells medical gases in New Jersey, he has a passion for artistic endeavors and spends a great deal of time writing. Accordingly, creating quality works of literature has even become one of his most sought-after goals. In particular, he enjoys writing historical fiction involving ancient Greece.

Photo Credit: tugay aydın



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Pawners Paper: The Invincible Mindset | Short Story | Anthony Thomas Voglino
The Invincible Mindset | Short Story | Anthony Thomas Voglino
The Invisible Mindset tells a story of a vibrant young man in the Greek city of Sparta with distorted belief about pain. Pawners Paper Magazine
Pawners Paper
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