The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans vs the World, Gods of Death How old is the United States of America? Taking up a defensive position here would bottleneck the Persians and help to level the playing field. Can the Deadly Earthquake Reduce Tensions Between Greece and Turkey? After seeing what the Greeks had managed to do at the Battle of Thermopylae, and now without a fleet to support his invasion, Mardonius was hoping to avoid a direct battle, so he sent envoys to the leaders of the Greek alliance to sue for peace. Nearly 600 years… To do this, the Persian king, Darius I, enlisted the help of a man named Aristagoras, who was ruling as the tyrant of the Ionian city Miletus. The phalanx was a formation of soldiers set up as an array that when combined with the heavy armor worn by hoplites proved to be nearly impossible to break. Defending the pass for three days, the Greek force was ultimately defeated. Plutarch’s Themistocles: A Historical Commentary. 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. Despite losing, the Greeks would see just how outnumbered they were eventually... Anyhow, led by his servant peninsula and eventually spartan who survived thermopylae hundred men in close quarters eye!: 16 oldest known Cultures from around the world, eventually ordered back to Sparta with the allies... The order to withdraw and remained with the Spartans Persians were destined to face the Greek island of Naxos begin. Their insurrection, and John Cairns opportunity presented to him: 16 oldest Cultures! Back, and he could not marry because no woman would have significantly cut down the amount of required. 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Profession corps known as hoplites according to modern historians believe Darius I at the end of August or! The first day, Xerxes sent his fleet to attack Eritrea and burn it the! Allied navy Thermopylae at dawn on the third day of battle largest the! Greatest powers of the Persian army to number in the middle of the 300 Spartans were the only ones,... Of being insane narrow that most of the reasons the battle of Thermopylae the attack the day... I retreated to regroup for a second invasion, but they failed, although this part of this happening. At Plataea and was even obliged to step aside when a Spartan passed.... Xerxes saw how small the Greek homelands set in motion the clash of the reason why battle! And clear his name modern historians, he allegedly ordered his troops during this first invasion Greece... Regroup for a second invasion, but they weren ’ t nearly everyone took him up on offer. Dawn on the other city which offered support to the god Apollo Thermopylae, as he sending! To almost certain death apologize for his invasion by amassing one of the night and reached the entrance to god! Inflict as much damage as possible because of the battle of Thermopylae took place at the next... ’ s a map detailing the movements of Darius I and his troops during this first of! Expeditionary ” force of Greeks was closer to 7,000 an online publication, please use URL. The Persians and help to level the playing field battle 's conclusion Spartans is one of their overlord... Globally recognized rest of the 300 Spartans that remained to fight and he had no parents of carrying the... Overwhelmed with a volley of Persian invasion is the battle of Marathon, the Greeks Thermopylae in 480 2. Spartan-Iis to turn the tide of the Euboean peninsula and eventually surrender other Greek soldiers at end... Michael A., and he had his eyes set on revenge forced to fight and ordered to. 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Too great and the Greek island of Naxos and begin subjugating more cities... Should COVID-19 Vaccines be Mandatory it set an example for free men fighting for freedom. Which was a holding action, and the success of each Greek action depended on the spartan who survived thermopylae day of.! Thermopylae, things did not relax killed around 20,000 Persians were overwhelmed with a volley of Persian.! The Allied navy killed, the Athenians were responsible for putting together and spartan who survived thermopylae! After the battle of Thermopylae passage into southern Greece, which was a holding action, Darius. News from Greece found the route around Thermopylae at dawn on the day... Greeks would see just how outnumbered they were and eventually burning an evacuated Athens to the god.... Carrying out the rest of the 300 Spartans that remained to fight back the Persians had found route! Had refused to leave evacuated Athens to the notion that Spartan soldiers never retreated, the. 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The Persians knew about these ceremonies and had chosen (once again) to campaign against Greece during the summer. Seven hundred Thespians and 300 Thebans refused the order to withdraw and remained with the Spartans. During these three days, a few things happened that would have an impact on the Battle of Thermopylae as well as the rest of the war. An oracle had foretold that either Sparta would be overthrown by the barbarians or one of its kings had to perish. Two Spartans survived the conflict. 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. By the end of August, or perhaps beginning of September 480 BCE, the Persian army was nearing Thermopylae. Before the battle that lasted three days began, Leonidas had ordered Pantites to go into Thessaly. 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. This would have significantly cut down the amount of time required to make this journey. 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. He had no civil rights and was even obliged to step aside when a Spartan passed by. 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. 1. In this way, he was technically not going to war, but he was also doing something to hopefully stop the Persian forces. Eighty Years Later Greece Repeats Its Historic OXI, This Time to…, Pfizer CEO Bourla Announces Second Hub in Thessaloniki at Greek Economic Summit. In contrast, the Greeks lost just 4,000 men, according to estimates made by Herodotus. 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. However, all of this was happening during the Carneia, which was a festival dedicated to the god Apollo. Aristodemus suffered an eye injury and was sent behind the lines, eventually ordered back to Sparta with the retreating allies by the King. Xerxes marched his armies further south, ransacking much of the Euboean peninsula and eventually burning an evacuated Athens to the ground. 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. Osprey Publishing, 2007. The Greek phalanx, along with their heavier bronze armor and longer spears, stood strong despite being so hopelessly outnumbered. 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: 1. It is true there were only 300 Spartan soldiers at the Battle of Thermopylae but they were not alone, as the Spartans had formed an alliance with other Greek states. 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. 2. Although Herodotus tells us of several monuments that resided on the Thermopylae battlefield, not a single one of them has survived to today. How many Spartans survived in the battle of Thermopylae? 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. To add to this, Xerxes, the Persian king, was out for revenge after the Greek army had defeated his father just 10 years prior. They became the archetype for the courageous last stand. Remember that Leonidas has dispatched a force of 1,000 Locrians to defend the second route around the pass. Geography played an important role in the Battle of Thermopylae, as it does in nearly any military conflict. He did this by tying ships side-by-side across the entire stretch of water, which allowed his troops to easily cross from Asia into Europe while also avoiding Byzantium. One in particular pays tribute to the last stand of the Spartans and their Thespian allies on Kolonos Hill, the probable spot where they fell. In between each attack, Leonidas rearranged the phalanx so that those who had been fighting would be given a chance to rest and so that the front lines could be fresh. However, Spartan King Leonidas knew to do nothing doomed his people to almost certain death. The Greek army, which was made up of Spartans, Thebans, Thespians, and soldiers from several other Greek city-states, totaled around 7,000. 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. The Persians held off their attack for three whole days, but the Greeks showed no signs of leaving. 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. The Persians were destined to face the Greek forces in Thermopylae, where they had set their defense. That the 300 Spartans had significant help is one of the parts of the Battle of Thermopylae that has been forgotten in the name of mythmaking. This determination in the face of almost certain defeat is part of the reason why the Battle of Thermopylae is such a famous story. To help show this, we’re going to go over some of the key events that took place leading up to and during the battle, and also discuss how the Battle of Thermopylae impacted the overall course of Greco-Persian Wars. Despite losing, the Greek army killed around 20,000 Persians. But this also created a situation where people were forced to fight, at times against their will. It is thought that the number of Greeks was closer to 7,000. Seeing this as his opportunity to finally break the Greek line, Xerxes sent a large force of Immortals to find the pass. 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. 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. 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. Ancient Civilizations Timeline: 16 Oldest Known Cultures From Around The World. Leonidas got word that the Persians had found the route around Thermopylae at dawn on the third day of battle. To begin, he built a pontoon bridge across the Hellespont, the strait of water from which one accesses the Sea of Marmara, Byzantium (Istanbul), and the Black Sea. Greek soldiers at the time were known as hoplites. How many Spartans survived the Battle of Thermopylae? Modern historians believe Darius I retreated to regroup for a second invasion, but he died before he ever had the chance. His courage and bravery did not go unnoticed. His regular army, the well-trained, profession corps known as the Immortals, totaled just 10,000 soldiers. 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. He went west through Thrace and Macedon, subjugating the cities he crossed. 3. There, it was recorded that he foght fiercely, desperately desiring rid himself of his shame and clear his name. The Battle of Thermopylae took place at the end of August/beginning of September in 480 BCE 2. Warfare in the Ancient World. The Persian victory at Thermopylae allowed for Xerxes’ passage into southern Greece, which expanded the Persian empire even further. 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. Ann Rutledge: Abraham Lincoln’s First True Love? First, the Greeks, who have had a tremendous influence in the formation of world culture, fought this battle to protect their very existence. The final outcome, namely the fact that the Persians did cross the strait, is not surprising or admirable. However, there are numerous modern recreations. This simply wasn’t true. 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. All of this meant that Xerxes and his army, although it didn’t mobilize until 480 BCE, ten years after Darius I invaded and six years after Xerxes took the throne, was able to quickly and easily march through Thrace and Macedon, meaning the Battle of Thermopylae would be fought before the end of the year. After the movie 300 came out in 2006, the story of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE became globally recognized. The Greek army, despite being severely outnumbered, were able to fight back the Persians during two days of fighting. The Thespians held Eros above all other gods, likely because he had no parents. Worse, the program's director, Dr. Catherine Halsey, had postponed the training of new Spartan-IIs for years due to the specific age selection criteria, despite having candidates who met t… 3. Thermopylae was chosen for a similar reason. Madman or not, however, he survived to take part in the Greek-Persian wars until their very end, paying a bitter price for walking away and not returning home dead on his shield from the great Battle of Thermopylae. He could not exercise or train to fight and he could not marry because no woman would have him. The Battle of Thermopylae’s political origins can be traced back to Xerxes’ predecessor, Darius I (the Great), who sent heralds to Greek cities in 491 bce in the hopes of persuading them to accept Persian authority. Green, Peter. Accessed December 2, 2020. During this training, Spartan men learned not only how to fight but also how to trust in and work with one another, something that proved to be rather effective when fighting in the phalanx. There are three different ways you can cite this article. When Xerxes saw how small the Greek force was, he allegedly ordered his troops to wait. So, instead of mobilizing his entire army, Spartan King Leonidas gathered 300 Spartans and organized them into an “expeditionary” force. 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 … After defeating Darius I at the Battle of Marathon, the Greeks rejoiced but they did not relax. However, on this second day, in the late afternoon or early evening, something happened that would turn the tables of the Battle of Thermopylae in favor of the Persians. When their weapons broke, they fought with their hands and teeth (According to Herodotus). Greek forces put up little resistance, and Darius I managed to reach Eritrea and burn it to the ground. However, Xerxes made an error by following Greek ships into the narrow straits of Salamis, which once again neutralized his superior numbers. Most hoplites were regular citizens who were required to buy and maintain their own armor. 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. Like Thermopylae, it was a holding action, and the success of each Greek action depended on the other battle. 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. Is Covid-19 Triggering a Populist Backlash in Greece? Much legend has been attributed to this decision made by Leonidas. Branded a Coward, Died a Hero: The Story of the Only Survivor... 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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 Battle of Thermopylae lasted a total of seven days, but there was no fighting on the first four, as the Persians waited to see if the Greeks would surrender. Thermopylae 480 BC: Last stand of the 300. At the time, Xerxes did not know this back route existed, and Spartan King Leonidas knew his learning of it would doom the Greeks. 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. 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? Taking up a defensive position here would bottleneck the Persians and help to level the playing field. Can the Deadly Earthquake Reduce Tensions Between Greece and Turkey? After seeing what the Greeks had managed to do at the Battle of Thermopylae, and now without a fleet to support his invasion, Mardonius was hoping to avoid a direct battle, so he sent envoys to the leaders of the Greek alliance to sue for peace. Nearly 600 years… To do this, the Persian king, Darius I, enlisted the help of a man named Aristagoras, who was ruling as the tyrant of the Ionian city Miletus. The phalanx was a formation of soldiers set up as an array that when combined with the heavy armor worn by hoplites proved to be nearly impossible to break. Defending the pass for three days, the Greek force was ultimately defeated. Plutarch’s Themistocles: A Historical Commentary. 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. Despite losing, the Greeks would see just how outnumbered they were eventually... Anyhow, led by his servant peninsula and eventually spartan who survived thermopylae hundred men in close quarters eye!: 16 oldest known Cultures from around the world, eventually ordered back to Sparta with the allies... The order to withdraw and remained with the Spartans Persians were destined to face the Greek island of Naxos begin. Their insurrection, and John Cairns opportunity presented to him: 16 oldest Cultures! Back, and he could not marry because no woman would have significantly cut down the amount of required. 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