Ancient Greek History

Do You Know About the Battle of Thermopylae?

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These days, the story of the Battle of Thermopylae has taken on a mythical quality. We envision a group of 300 brave Spartan soldiers facing off against the Persians, who had one of the largest armies in the world at the time. The Persian Empire experienced success at expanding its borders, and it wanted to make Ancient Greece a part of its large and expanding empire.

The Persians had already tried to conquer Greece during the First Persian Invasion about a decade earlier. There were those who were relieved that the Persians left, but there were still those who thought they’d be back. As it turns out, the Persians did return. The Battle of Thermopylae took place during the Second Persian Invasion. Here’s more information about this battle:

Why Thermopylae?

The battle itself is known to have taken place over the course of three days at a narrow pass at a place known as Thermopylae. When the battle strategy was established, the Spartans were aware that many, if not all of them, would lose their lives. Since the pass was so narrow, it forced the fighters in close proximity. There was also only one way into the pass and one way out. This setup gave the Spartans the best chance possible for winning the day despite the despite the fact that the Persian army far outnumbered them. However, the battle strategy proved to be fairly sound and the Spartan soldiers were well trained.

The Goal of the Battle

It is important to understand that the goal of the battle wasn’t necessarily to win. The goal was to slow the Persians down so that the rest of Greece could prepare themselves for the invasion. In particular, Athens needed to be alerted that the Persians were here. From there, the Athenians were able to mobilize their navy and implement a strategy at the Battle of Salamis that ultimately caused Ancient Greece to drive the Persians away. The Battle of Salamis was a considerable naval victory that contributed to the Persians becoming unsuccessful in their attempt to invade Greece.

Knowledge of the Battle in Modern Greece

Recently, the story of the 300 brave Spartans was depicted in a graphic novel and then later converted into a movie called The 300. This movie was hugely popular, and it has been responsible bringing the story of this battle to the modern audience. The plot of this movie is regarded as being factually accurate.

Ultimately, there were actually more than 300 soldiers present at Thermopylae. Some of Sparta’s allies came to the aid of the 300 Spartans. Total, there were anywhere from 6000 to 7000 Greek soldiers at Thermopylae. On this point, the popular movie is incorrect since these other soldiers weren’t represented. Leonidas did lead the army, but the size of the army was much larger than the movie indicated.

However, although the Spartan soldiers lost their lives, their tale still lives on.

 

Source:

The Real Story of the Battle of Thermopylae

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This post was written by GreekBoston.com