Skip to content

Toggle service links
  1. Classical Reception Studies Network
  2. News
  3. Publication of Kieron Gillen’s graphic novel, 'Three'

Publication of Kieron Gillen’s graphic novel, 'Three'

 Publication of Kieron Gillen’s graphic novel, Three

CRSN members with interests in classical receptions in modern popular culture, especially the reception of Sparta and of ancient slavery, may be interested to learn about the recent publication of the graphic novel, Three, available from Image Comics:

Authored by the well-known comics writer, Kieron Gillen, Three is a fictional story centred around three fugitive helots and set in the period of Sparta's decline in the 360s BC. Its title purposely evokes the mythologised Sparta of Frank Miller's and Zack Snyder's 300; but Gillen's aim is a more authentic and subaltern depiction of Sparta, focusing in particular on the exploitation of the helots and the latter’s capacity for subversive agency.

What may make Three especially interesting to classicists is Gillen’s extensive personal research into both primary sources and modern scholarship on Sparta; also his consultation throughout the production process with myself and other colleagues from the University of Nottingham’s Department of Classics and Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies.

Balancing historical authenticity and the demands of the 'action comic' genre has been one of the challenging and fascinating aspects of our collaboration, reflected in the novel’s end-matter, which includes an extended conversation between Gillen and myself as historical consultant, along with additional ‘historical footnotes’ by Gillen himself.

Our collaboration was also the subject of a well-attended discussion panel – chaired by Lynn Fotheringham (Nottingham), who originally brought Gillen and myself together – at the Classical Association conference at Nottingham in April 2014: ‘Story-telling and Historical Authenticity in a Visual Medium: The comics-series Three’.

A four-part blog about the panel can be viewed at

Stephen Hodkinson

Professor of Ancient History & Director, Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies, University of Nottingham