305px jacques louis david 004 thermopylae

the battle of thermopylae

By clarkda
  • 480

    greek phalanx formation based on sources from the perseus protection

    greek phalanx formation based on sources  from the perseus protection
    On the fifth day after the Persian arrival at Thermopylae (which would become the first day of the battle), Xerxes finally resolved to attack the Greeks. First of all, he sent Medes and Cissians against the Greeks, to take them prisoner and bring them before him.[42][63] They soon found themselves launching a frontal assault on the Greek position.[42] The Greeks fought in front of the Phocian wall, at the narrowest part of the pass.[64][65] Details of the tactics are scant; Diodorus says "the me
  • 480

    Depiction of Persian warriors, probably the Immortals.

    Depiction of Persian warriors, probably the Immortals.
    On the second day, Xerxes again sent in the infantry to attack the pass, "supposing that their enemies, being so few, were now disabled by wounds and could no longer resist."[70] However, the Persians fared no better on the second day than on the first.[70] Xerxes at last stopped the assault and withdrew to his camp, totally perplexed.[4]
  • 480

    Depiction of Persian warriors, probably the Immortals.

    Depiction of Persian warriors, probably the Immortals.
    Late on the second day of battle, however, as the Persian king was pondering what to do next, he received a windfall; a Trachinian traitor named Ephialtes informed him of the mountain path around Thermopylae and offered to guide the Persian army.[71] Ephialtes was motivated by the desire of a reward.[71] For this act, the name of Ephialtes received a lasting stigma, his name coming to mean "nightmare" in the Greek language and becoming the archetypal traitor in Greek culture.
  • 480

    Depiction of Persian warriors, probably the Immortals.

    Depiction of Persian warriors, probably the Immortals.
    Herodotus reports that Xerxes sent his commander Hydarnes that evening, with the men under his command, the Immortals, to encircle the Greeks via the path. However, he does not say who those men are.[73] The Immortals had been bloodied on the first day, so it is possible that Hydarnes may have been given overall command of an enhanced force including what was left of the Immortals, and indeed, according to Diodorus, Hydarnes had a force of 20,000 for the mission.[74] The path led from east of th
  • 480

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae
    At daybreak on the third day, the Phocians guarding the path above Thermopylae became aware of the outflanking Persian column by the rustling of oak leaves. Herodotus says that they jumped up and were greatly amazed.[76] Hydarnes was perhaps just as amazed to see them hastily arming themselves as they were to see him and the Persian forces.[77] He feared that they were Spartans but was informed by Ephialtes that they were not.
  • 480

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae
    The Phocians retreated to a nearby hill to make their stand (assuming that the Persians had come to attack them).[76] However, not wishing to be delayed, the Persians gave them a volley of arrows, before passing by to continue with their encirclement of the main Greek force.[76
  • 480

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae
    Learning from a runner that the Phocians had not held the path, Leonidas called a council of war at dawn.[78] Some of the Greeks argued for withdrawal, but Leonidas resolved to stay at the pass with the Spartans.[78] Many of the Greek contingents then either chose to withdraw (without orders), or were ordered to leave by Leonidas (Herodotus admits that there is some doubt about which actually happened).
  • 480

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae.

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae.
    The contingent of 700 Thespians, led by their general Demophilus, refused to leave with the other Greeks but committed themselves to the fight.[80] Also present were the 400 Thebans, and probably the helots that had accompanied the Spartans.
  • 480

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae.

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae.
    Leonidas' actions have been the subject of much discussion. It is commonly stated that the Spartans were obeying the laws of Sparta by not retreating, but it seems it was actually the failure to retreat from Thermopylae that gave rise to the notion that Spartans never retreated.[81] It is also possible that recalling the words of the Oracle, Leonidas was committed to sacrifice his life in order to save Sparta.
  • 480

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae.

    Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae.
    However, since the prophecy was specific to him, this seems a poor reason to commit 1,500 other men to a fight to the death.[81] The most likely theory is that Leonidas chose to form a rearguard so that the other Greek contingents could get away.[81][82] If all the troops had retreated, the open ground beyond the pass would have allowed the Persian cavalry to run the Greeks down. If they had all remained at the pass, they would have been encircled and would eventually have all been killed.
  • Legacy

    Legacy
    Simonides composed a well-known epigram, which was engraved as an epitaph on a commemorative stone placed on top of the burial mound of the Spartans at Thermopylae. It is also the hill on which the last of them died.[49] The original stone has not been preserved. Instead the epitaph was engraved on a new stone erected in 1955. The text from Herodotus is.
  • Legacy

    Legacy
    Ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
  • Legacy

    Legacy
    An ancient alternative substitutes πειθόμενοι νομίμοις for ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι; i.e., substitutes "laws" for "sayings." The sayings in question are not personal but refer to official and binding phrases (the Ancient Greek term can also refer to a formal speech).[115] The form of this ancient Greek poetry is an elegiac couplet, commonly used for epitaphs. Some English renderings are given in the table below.