Indeed, he fought fiercely and bravely at Plataea and was wounded. The Greek phalanx, along with their heavier bronze armor and longer spears, stood strong despite being so hopelessly outnumbered. This alliance, which was made up of the major Greek city-states at the time, mainly Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Argos, Thebes, Phocis, Thespiaea, etc., was the first example of a pan-Hellenic alliance, breaking up centuries of fighting amongst the Greeks and planting the seeds for a national identity. The Battle of Thermopylae, fought between the Greeks and the Persians in 480 BCE, has gone down in history as one of the most significant last stands of all time, despite the fact the “hero,” the Greeks, walked away from this battle defeated and on the brink of complete destruction. The ‘mainland’ Spartans on the other side… King Leonidas deemed them unfit to fight and ordered them to return home before the battle. However, when we dig a bit deeper into the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, we can see why it has become such a beloved tale from our ancient past. Like Thermopylae, it was a holding action, and the success of each Greek action depended on the other battle. It is believed that he was sending a message asking for additional troops, although this part of the story is disputed. Below are maps that show not only what the Pass of Thermopylae looked like but also how the troops moved around throughout the three days of fighting. The Thespians held Eros above all other gods, likely because he had no parents. The Greco-Persian Wars. However, the impossible odds the Greeks faced going into the battle combined with the legends surrounding Leonidas and the three hundred Spartans has helped turn this battle and its famous last stand into a momentous event in ancient history. It set an example for free men fighting for their freedom and that of their country. However, all of this was happening during the Carneia, which was a festival dedicated to the god Apollo. This would have significantly cut down the amount of time required to make this journey. They were so named because royal decree required this force always have 10,000 soldiers, meaning fallen soldiers were replaced one-for-one, keeping the force at 10,000 and giving the illusion of immortality. iPhone History: A Timeline of Every Model in Order Mason-Dixon Line The History of Guns, who had grown over the previous century to be the most powerful empire in western Asia, The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans vs the World, Athens vs. Sparta: The History of the Peloponnesian War, Ancient Sparta: The History of the Spartans, Day 3: The Last Stand of Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, The History of Salt in Ancient Civilizations, History of Dogs: The Journey of Man’s Best Friend, iPhone History: A Timeline of Every Model in Order, The First Movie Ever Made: Why and when films were invented, The History of Hollywood: The Film Industry Exposed. The movement of the Persians through Thermopylae. Pantites failed to return to Thermopylae in time for the battle, and branded with shame in the eyes of his fellow Spartans, he hanged himself. This turned out to be the battle of Plataea, just one year after Thermopylae. Cambridge University Press, 2002. This decision to ignore the gods and fight anyway has helped enshrine Spartan King Leonidas as the epitome of a just and loyal king who felt truly indebted to his people. However, once again, the Persian numbers were too great and the Greek fleet was in trouble. Tales of Spartan supersoldiers fighting off thousands of Covenant attacks had become the stuff of legend. If your web page requires an HTML link, please insert this code: The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans vs the World, Gods of Death How old is the United States of America? The Spartans were joined by three to four thousand soldiers from the rest of the Peloponnese, cities such as Corinth, Tegea, and Arcadia, as well as another three to four thousand soldiers from the rest of Greece, meaning a total of around 7,000 men were sent to stop an army of 180,000. As much as modern historians question many of the elements quoted by Herodotus, it was in essence a handful of warriors — 300, or 1,000 if we add the Thespians or 5,000-6,000 according to other estimates — standing against an enormous horde of opponents. The battle took place simultaneously with the more famous land battle at Thermopylae, in August or September 480 BC, off the coast of Euboea and was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and others, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. Seven hundred Thespians and 300 Thebans refused the order to withdraw and remained with the Spartans. As a result, almost everyone knows about the 300 Spartans who died trying to hold back the Persian Empire’s 300,000-strong army on its way to conquer Greece. The Greek army, despite being severely outnumbered, were able to fight back the Persians during two days of fighting. At Artemisium, the Athenian-led navy was able to inflict heavy damages on the Persian fleet by luring them into tight corridors and using their more agile ships to defeat the Persians. Furthermore, he set up marketplaces and other trading posts all along the route he was planning to take to make it easier to supply his massive army as it proceeded west into Europe. Second, Leonidas took 1,000 of his men, mainly people from the nearby city of Locris, to guard the relatively unknown passageway that circumvented the narrow Pass of Thermopylae. Doing some reaserch . Green, Peter. The Truth . Wikimedia Commons Students may be familiar with this famous battle from its depiction in Zack Snyder's movie 300 , … The Athenians, who had led the fight against the Persians the first time around, began building a new fleet using silver they had recently discovered in the mountains of Attica. The Vale of Tempe provided them with this geographical advantage, but when the Greeks got word that the Persians had learned of a way to go around the vale, they had to change their strategy. Nearly 600 years… First, the Greeks, who have had a tremendous influence in the formation of world culture, fought this battle to protect their very existence. Much legend has been attributed to this decision made by Leonidas. The name of the King of Sparta became synonymous with bravery and devotion, while that of Ephialtes came to be the ultimate symbol of treason and the baser instincts, forever to be connected with the image of a pile of dead Spartan soldiers at Thermopylae Pass. The size of the Persian army is disputed. In the late summer of 480 B.C., the Spartan king Leonidas and his soldiers epitomized this principle at the Battle of Thermopylae. Despite losing, the Greek army killed around 20,000 Persians. The Greek forces chose to meet the Persians in battle, and they won a decisive victory at the Battle of Marathon, forcing Darius I to retreat back to Asia, effectively ending his invasion for the time being. Part of this force was made up of Spartiates, but the majority were regular hoplites and helots, Spartan slaves. Greece, which operated more as a network of independent city-states that alternated between collaborating and fighting with one another than a coherent nation, had a significant presence in western Asia, mostly along the southern coast of modern-day Turkey, a region known as Ionia. The battle resulted in the death of Leonidas, who became a hero for his decision to remain behind and fight to the death. This offended the proud Greeks greatly; the Athenians went so far as to toss the Persian heralds into a pit, while the Spartans followed suit and tossed them into a well. The Greek alliance originally wanted to confront the Persian forces in Thessaly, the region just to the south of Macedon, at the Vale of Tempe. Pantites, was sent by Leonidas to raise support in Thessaly but returned to Thermopylae only after the battle's conclusion. Several waves of 10,000 Medes were all beaten back. However, Aristagoras failed in his invasion, and fearing that Darius I would retaliate by killing him, he called on his fellow Greeks in Ionia to rebel against the Persian king, which they did. However, as impressive as the size of Xerxes’ army was,  the preparations he undertook for his invasion are perhaps even more remarkable. Most of the Athenian population had been taken to the nearby island of Salamis, and it looked as though this would be the site of a potentially decisive Persian victory. The final outcome, namely the fact that the Persians did cross the strait, is not surprising or admirable. Defending the pass for three days, the Greek force was ultimately defeated. He went west through Thrace and Macedon, subjugating the cities he crossed. Meanwhile, Darius I sent his fleet to attack Eritrea and Athens. Xerxes marched his armies further south, ransacking much of the Euboean peninsula and eventually burning an evacuated Athens to the ground. Once again, Aristodemus was in a difficult position and was forced to apologize for his stance. Although there were 300 Spartans present at the defense of Thermopylae, there were at least 4,000 allies involved on the first two days and 1,500 men involved in the fatal last stand.Still a tiny figure compared to the forces against them—there is evidence that the vast Persian army has been vastly exaggerated—but more than the legend, which forgets some contributors. Before going into much more detail about the events that took place leading up to and during the Battle of Thermopylae, here are some of the most important details of this famous battle: The Battle of Thermopylae was just one of many battles fought between the Greeks and the Persians in a conflict known as The Greco Persian Wars. ((The topography… Greek soldiers at the time were known as hoplites. However, the Athenians were responsible for putting together and directing the Allied navy. He knew that should they be successful, they would be able to get in behind Greek line, which would have allowed them to attack from both the front and back, a move that would have meant certain death for the Greeks. With all of this done, the stage was set for the fighting to begin. However, when the Persians invaded Lydia and conquered it in the middle of the 6th century BCE, the Ionian Greeks became part of the Persian Empire, yet in their quest to maintain their autonomy, they proved difficult to rule. Herodotus believed that had both Aristodemus and Eurytus returned to Sparta alive, or Aristodemus alone been ill and excused from combat, the Spartans would have ascribed no blame to him. Ancient Sparta is one of the most well-known cities in Classical Greece. In 480 BC a small force of Spartans, Thespians, and Thebans led by King Leonidas (approximately 300 were full Spartiates, 700 were Thespians, and 400 were Thebans; these numbers do not reflect casualties incurred prior to the final battle), made a legendary last stand at the Battle of Thermopylae against the massive Persian army, inflicting a very high casualty rate on the Persian … It was the most important religious event on the Spartan calendar, and Spartan kings were strictly forbidden from going to war during this celebration. The Greeks were able to hold the Persians at sea for the duration of Thermopylae, suffering similar numbers of … One of the reasons the Battle of Thermopylae is so famous is because of the preparations the Persians took to fight it. Frost, Frank J., and Plutarchus. Remember that Leonidas has dispatched a force of 1,000 Locrians to defend the second route around the pass. He left his top general, Mardonius, in charge of carrying out the rest of the attack. But at the time, few Greeks were professional soldiers, except for the Spartiates, who were highly-trained soldiers that ended up having a significant impact on the Battle of Thermopylae. Anyone could see that the Persians would be back, and so most went about preparing for round two. This is because when civilizations were conquered and made part of the Persian empire, they were required to give troops to the imperial army. However, Spartan King Leonidas knew to do nothing doomed his people to almost certain death. Spartan soldiers falling at the battle of Thermopylae (Source: Wikimedia Commons) At sunrise, after making libations, Xerxes ordered the army to advance and descend the mountain. τῶν Θερμοπυλῶν, Máchē tōn Thermopylōn) was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas I of Sparta, and the Achaemenid Empire of Xerxes I.It was fought over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. Full story:, Posted by Greek Reporter on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, Latest News from Greece. Doing so required reinforcements. Only 2 Spartans are said to have survived: 1 fell at the Battle of Plataea a year later, and the other hanged himself in shame. Outright denial of the will of the gods was not an option, but Leonidas also knew remaining idle would allow his people, and the rest of Greece, to be destroyed, which was also not an option. Herodotus: Histories. Découvrez comment nous utilisons vos informations dans notre Politique relative à la vie privée et notre Politique relative aux cookies. Ann Rutledge: Abraham Lincoln’s First True Love? A major selling point for the Battle of Thermopylae was the idea that only 300 Greek soldiers — specifically Spartans — went to impede the Persian invasion. The Battle of Thermopylae took place at the end of August/beginning of September in 480 BCE. But before retreating, an envoy was sent to Thermopylae to see how the battle was transpiring, for they did not want to abandon the fight altogether and leave the right flank of the Greek force at the pass exposed. The Greeks fought the Persians with all their remaining strength. The first is the Battle of Artemesium, a battle fought concurrently with Thermopylae. The Greek force consisted of approximately 7000 men, of whom 300 were Spartan hoplites, 700 Thespians, and 100 Phocians, among others. By the end of the day, Xerxes, likely irritated that his soldiers could not break the Greek line, sent the Immortals into battle, but they too were rebuffed, meaning that the first day of battle would end in failure for the Persians. One can only imagine how motivated they really were to kill their countrymen at the bequest of their imperial overlord. The story goes that Xerxes, as he made his way into Greece, sent envoys to the still free Greek cities offering peace in exchange for tribute, which the Spartans of course refused. According to modern historians, he sent his army in waves of 10,000 men, but this did not do much. The SPARTAN-II program had been a dazzling success for the UNSC. Leonidas, one of the Spartan kings at the time (Sparta always had two), led the Greek forces, whereas the Persians were led by their emporer Xerxes, as well as his main general, Mardonius. The Battle of Thermopylae was one of many battles fought between the Greeks and the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars, which took place between c. 499 BCE and c. 450 BCE. The force stationed up in the mountains was set to serve not only as a line of defense but also as a warning system that could alert the Greeks fighting on the beaches in the event the Persians found their way around the narrow pass. This move resulted in a resounding victory for the Greek fleet, and Xerxes, seeing now that the invasion was taking longer than he’d expected, and that it might not succeed, left the frontline and returned to Asia. Unfortunately for him, however, the military leaders also saw a recklessness that was completely incompatible with the discipline which was a key element of the success of the Spartan phalanx. The Immortals traveled in the middle of the night and reached the entrance to the pass sometime before daybreak. Taking up a defensive position here would bottleneck the Persians and help to level the playing field. How many Spartans survived the Battle of Thermopylae? Univ of California Press, 1996. Here’s a carving of what the Immortals may have looked like in ancient times: The rest of the soldiers Xerxes took with him to Greece came from other regions of the empire, mainly Media, Elam, Babylon, Phoenicia, and Egypt, among many others. Understandably, Aristodemus sought to attain a glorious death at the very next opportunity presented to him. Off to the side of the larger statue of Leonidas at Thermopylae, there is a monument to the 700 Thespians who died alongside the Spartans. ” (“Molon Lave—Come and take them!”) was said to be the response by the Spartans at Thermopylae to the Persian demand that the Greeks surrender their weapons. At the end, the Persian lost at the very least, 20,000 men. On at least one key detail Herodotus’ informants were sound: excavations at Thermopylae in the 1930s unearthed arrowheads of an Anatolian design in large numbers on a hill in the pass, confirming both the location and the manner of the deaths. All of this training meant that the Spartan soldiers, also known as Spartiates, were one of the world’s premier fighting force at the time. Xerxes, confident he would now win the Battle, waited until the late afternoon to give his Immortals the chance to make it through the pass and advance on the remaining Greeks. To add to this, Xerxes, the Persian king, was out for revenge after the Greek army had defeated his father just 10 years prior. Many like to think these 300 Spartans were the only ones fighting, but they weren’t. But the Persian soldiers vastly outnumbered them and finally the Spartans were overwhelmed with a volley of Persian arrows. There are three different ways you can cite this article. Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War. However, most historians now believe he sent off most of his force so that they could rejoin with the rest of the Greek armies and live to fight the Persians another day. According to the historian Herodotus, there were only three men out of Leonidas’ elite army who did not fight in the epic battle. The Persians were meticulous record keepers; but no Persian source has survived. To cite this article in an academic-style article or paper, use: Matthew Jones, "The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans vs the World", History Cooperative, March 12, 2019, It’s far more likely the Persian Army was made up of around 180,000 or 200,000 men, which is still an astronomical number for ancient times. When Pantites returned to the free city-state of Sparta, thanks to the sacrifice of his fellow Spartans at Thermopylae, he was accused of cowardice — and he soon killed himself. But now, he was mad at the Greeks for their insurrection, and he had his eyes set on revenge. The invasion of the Persians into the Greek homelands set in motion the clash of the two greatest powers of the ancient world. In contrast, the Greeks lost just 4,000 men, according to estimates made by Herodotus. Can the Deadly Earthquake Reduce Tensions Between Greece and Turkey? Thermopylae 480 BC: Last stand of the 300. The Battle of Thermopylae. Because of this, the Battle of Thermopylae has remained in our collective memories for well over 2,000 years. However, Xerxes made an error by following Greek ships into the narrow straits of Salamis, which once again neutralized his superior numbers. But this also created a situation where people were forced to fight, at times against their will. Eurytus, however, turned back again to the battlefield, and though literally blind, met his valiant death very early on in the battle. 2500 Anniversary: The Battle of Thermopylae (Hot Gates), In 2020 Greece celebrates the 2500-year-anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae, when King Leonidas and his men said "Molon Labe" and fought to death against one million Persians; protecting the foundations of our civilization in one of the most famous battles in history that shaped our world! 3. But not wanting to expose those retreating to the Persian advance, Leonidas informed his troops that he would remain with his force of 300 Spartans, but that all others could leave. Ancient Civilizations Timeline: 16 Oldest Known Cultures From Around The World. There, it was recorded that he foght fiercely, desperately desiring rid himself of his shame and clear his name. That these men were willing to stay behind and fight to the death speaks to the spirit of the Spartan fighting force, and it reminds us of what people are willing to do when their homeland and very existence are threatened. The Battle of Marathon had shown that Greek forces would be able to defeat the Persians if they could force them into tight areas where their superior numbers no longer mattered. On the first day, Xerxes sent his Median and Kissian troops, and after their failure to clear … Initially a stalemate, the Battle of Plataea took place when Mardonius misinterpreted a simple troop movement as a Greek retreat and decided to attack. Who is the longest reigning WWE Champion of all time? Most hoplites were regular citizens who were required to buy and maintain their own armor. A Fallen King. After the Battle of Thermopylae, and using the same tactics that allowed them to inflict heavy damages on the Persian army, the Greek army managed to defeat the Persians at the Battle of Salamis (naval) and the Battle of Plataea, which effectively ended the threat of Persian invasion and tipped the scales of the Greco-Persian Wars in the Greeks’ favor. Although very seriously injured in the battle, he was accused of being insane. It is thought that the number of Greeks was closer to 7,000. But a local Greek, who was likely trying to win over Xerxes’ favor in an attempt to receive special treatment after their victory, approached the Persian camp and alerted them to the existence of this secondary route. Two Spartans survived the conflict. Is Covid-19 Triggering a Populist Backlash in Greece? Here’s a map of the Persian Empire in 490 BCE. After the battle was finally won by the Persians and the remaining rear guard of … Much to their surprise, they faced approximatel… The Greek rearguard, meanwhile, was annihilated, with a probable loss of 4,000 men, including those killed on the first two days of battle. Instead, they’re famous because of how they got to the battle. Princeton University Press, 1980. In the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas and his brave 300 were the heroes — and Ephialtes of Trachis, the vile traitor who betrayed the Spartan army, served as the villain. They returned to their camp and waited for the next day. Credit: Public Domain. The pass was so narrow that most of the fighting took place between just a few hundred men in close quarters. Every move outside the battle plan was considered as endangering the lives of fellow warriors. It was instrumental to the Greeks’ success against the Persians. They engaged with the Locrians and defeated them, but before the fighting began, several Locrians escaped through the narrow pass to warn Leonidas that the Persians had discovered this critical weak point. This website is dedicated to King Leonidas, the 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians and other Greek warriors who fought to the death during the Battle of Thermopylae (Hot Gates) in August, 480 B.C. The Persians were destined to face the Greek forces in Thermopylae, where they had set their defense. So, in 499 BCE, much of Ionia was in open rebellion, an event known as the Ionian Revolt. Facing an invading Persian army numbering around 100,000 men or more under king Xerxes, Leonidas and his 300 Spartans led a coalition of some 6,000 troops assembled from the city-states of Greece. It forever cemented Thermopylae as a place where ancient… After the Battle of Thermopylae, things did not look good for the Greeks. The coward was not punished, but he was treated as if he did not exist; he was invisible and no one would touch him. This was rejected, but the Athenians, angry at Sparta for not contributing more troops, threatened to accept these terms if the Spartans did not increase their commitment to the fight. Carey, Brian Todd, Joshua Allfree, and John Cairns. A map indicating the location and military positions taken in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE between the Persian invading forces of Xerxes I against a small Greek force led by Spartan king Leonidas. The Greeks were ultimately defeated when one of their own betrayed them by alerting Xerxes of a route around the narrow pass of Thermopylae. 3. However, the previous encounters were mainly fought by the Anatolian Greeks. New York: Osprey, 2007. Vol. It was an ideal choice because it gave the Greeks the chance to stop the Persian army before they could advance south to Attica, and also because it would allow the Greek navy the chance to prevent the Persian fleet from sailing to Thermopylae and outflanking the Greeks fighting on land. Xerxes prepared for his invasion by amassing one of the largest armies the ancient world had ever seen. In this way, he was technically not going to war, but he was also doing something to hopefully stop the Persian forces. But it did also result in the death of Leonidas, as well as his entire force of 300 Spartans and 700 Thebans from the initial tally of 7,000 men. The Persian army at the beginning of the battle is estimated to have numbered 180,000 with most of the troops being taken from the various regions of Persian territory. Aristodemus suffered an eye injury and was sent behind the lines, eventually ordered back to Sparta with the retreating allies by the King. The word “coward” was the worst insult for the supremely warlike Spartans. To link to this article in the text of an online publication, please use this URL: 1. The Greek army, which was made up of Spartans, Thebans, Thespians, and soldiers from several other Greek city-states, totaled around 7,000. This final victory officially drove the Persians from Europe and removed the threat of Persian invasion. Meanwhile, receiving word that the Persians had found a way around the Pass of Thermopylae, the Greek fleet at Artemisium turned around and sailed south to try and beat the Persians to Attica and defend Athens. First, the Persian fleet was caught in a wicked storm off the coast of Euboea that resulted in the loss of around one-third of their ships. Osprey Publishing, 2007. Some believe it was because during his trip to the Oracle before the battle began he was given a prophecy that said he was going to die on the battlefield if he did not succeed. The Persian Empire stretched from what is modern-day Turkey, down to Egypt and Libya, and all the way east almost to India, making it the second largest empire in the world at the time next to China. Accessed December 2, 2020. Others attribute the move to the notion that Spartan soldiers never retreated. Herodotus, whose account of wars between the Greeks and Persians is the best primary source we have on these long wars, estimated the Persians had an army of nearly 2 million men, but most modern estimates put this number much lower. Herodotus estimated the Persian army to number in the millions, but modern historians tend to doubt his reportage. Up until the Battle of Thermopylae, the Immortals were the premier fighting force in the ancient world. The Greeks did follow, and they won several victories throughout Thrace, as well as the Battle of Byzantium, which took place in 478 BCE. Athens and several other Greek city-states, mainly Eritrea, sent help to their fellow Greeks, but this proved to be folly as Darius I marched his armies into Ionia and by 493 BCE had ended the rebellion. The Games were dedicated to Zeus and war was forbidden when they were held. 100s of Spartans were killed in many places, but the question probably refers to the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, and the legend of the 300 Spartans.
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