Fighting to the last, the battle saw Leonidas killed and the two sides struggle for his body.  However, the Athenians lacked the manpower to fight on both land and sea; therefore, combating the Persians would require an alliance of Greek city-states. What advantages did the Greeks have at Thermopylae?  A Persian force of 10,000 men, comprising light infantry and cavalry, charged at the front of the Greek formation. To play this quiz, please finish editing it. , The Greek city-states of Athens and Eretria had aided the unsuccessful Ionian Revolt against the Persian Empire of Darius I in 499–494 BC. , Militarily, although the battle was actually not decisive in the context of the Persian invasion, Thermopylae is of some significance on the basis of the first two days of fighting. However, the following year saw a Greek army decisively defeat the Persians at the Battle of Plataea, thereby ending the Persian invasion. , 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. G. Cawkwell, The Greek Wars: The Failure of Persia (2005). The battle itself had shown that even when heavily outnumbered, the Greeks could put up an effective fight against the Persians, and the defeat at Thermopylae had turned Leonidas and the men under his command into martyrs.  At the Battle of Plataea, the Greek army won a decisive victory, destroying much of the Persian army and ending the invasion of Greece. It is, therefore, your duty to retire. Pushing forward, the Greeks met this attack at a wider point in the pass with the goal of inflicting maximum losses on the enemy.  A hoplite phalanx could block the narrow pass with ease, with no risk of being outflanked by cavalry. The Greeks this time sallied forth from the wall to meet the Persians in the wider part of the pass, in an attempt to slaughter as many Persians as they could.  The name "Hot Gates" comes from the hot springs that were located there.  In this struggle, Herodotus states that two of Xerxes' brothers fell: Abrocomes and Hyperanthes. This confuses me greatly, because my textbook does not mention where the Persians … As a previous Persian fleet had been wrecked off Mount Athos, Xerxes intended to build a canal across the mountain's isthmus.  Modern scholarly estimates are generally in the range 120,000–300,000. We have been sent here from Sparta to defend the pass of Thermopylae. How did the Persians win the Battle of ... plus 300 of his own Spartan warriors, with which he was expected to hold back the might of the Persian Army at the Pass of Thermopylae. In September, Themistocles succeeded in winning a critical naval victory at the Battle of Salamis which forced the bulk of Persian troops to withdraw back to Asia.  Upon discovering that his army had been encircled, Leonidas told his allies that they could leave if they wanted to. Prior to the battle, the Hellenes remembered the Dorians, an ethnic distinction which applied to the Spartans, as the conquerors and displacers of the Ionians in the Peloponnesus. We have received no orders to withdraw. For the number of them that disappeared beneath the mud was great. Attempting to make a stand, they formed on a nearby hill but were bypassed by Hydarnes.  Leonidas also died in the assault, shot down by Persian archers, and the two sides fought over his body; the Greeks took possession. It has also been proposed that the failure to retreat from Thermopylae gave rise to the notion that Spartans never retreated.  With the Persian emissary returning empty-handed, battle became inevitable. The Battle of Thermopylae took place over three days. As Holland puts it, "in short...we will never know. Not only that, but they also held the advantage militarily as the Spartans were trained form a very young age to fight as soldiers, while the Persians did not train as soldiers until well into their adult years. Arriving, he elected to establish a position at the "middle gate" where the pass was the narrowest and the Phocians had previously built a wall. The defeat at Thermopylae offered an opportunity for the Greeks to reorganize themselves and prepare a stronger defense against the invaders.  According to Diodorus, a Persian called Tyrrhastiadas, a Cymaean by birth, warned the Greeks. While some Greeks saw it as an excuse to ally with the Persians, others admired the Spartan example and redoubled their efforts to resist the Asian tide. The Battle of Thermopylae is a battle in September 480 BC during the Greek-Persian war (480 — 479 BC).  Xerxes decided that the Hellespont would be bridged to allow his army to cross to Europe, and that a canal should be dug across the isthmus of Mount Athos (rounding which headland, a Persian fleet had been destroyed in 492 BC). Although the Persian empire was at the peak of its strength, the collective defense mounted by the Greeks overcame seemingly impossible odds and even succeeded in liberating Greek city-states on the fringe of Persia … Thermopylae was a Greek defeat. Legend has it that he had the very water of the Hellespont whipped because it would not obey him. Translation by William Shepherd, from the Cambridge series of translations by Greek and Roman authors. When at a later date, an army of Gauls led by Brennus attempted to force the pass, the shallowness of the water gave the Greek fleet great difficulty getting close enough to the fighting to bombard the Gauls with ship-borne missile weapons.  If all the troops had retreated, the open ground beyond the pass would have allowed the Persian cavalry to run the Greeks down. Edit; Sorry for not being as clear. , "300 Spartans" redirects here. “ The performance of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is often used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment and good use of terrain to maximise an army’s potential, as well as a symbol of courage against extremely overwhelming odds.”  Shortly afterwards, they received the news that Xerxes had crossed the Hellespont. After that, Xerxes sent a force of 10,000 Medes and Cissians to take the defenders prisoner and bring them before him. Lazenby, The Defence of Greece 490-479 BC (1993). The Battle of Marathon had shown the Greeks they would be able to defeat the Persians if they could force them into tight areas where their superior numbers no longer mattered. To this Leonidas reputedly replied, "Come and get them." Ephialtes, from local Trachis, tells Xerxes of a nearby mountain path that would allow the Persian forces to outflank the Greeks in a wider section of the Thermopylae Pass, a location that would have allowed Xerxes his overwhelming numbers their advantage once more. The Greeks were offered their freedom, the title "Friends of the Persian People", and the opportunity to re-settle on land better than that they possessed. The text from Herodotus is:, The alternative ancient reading πειθόμενοι νομίμοις (peithomenoi nomίmois) for ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι (rhēmasi peithomenoi) substitutes "laws" or "orders" for "words." Xerxes found the scout's reports of the size of the Greek force, and that the Spartans were indulging in callisthenics and combing their long hair, laughable. The Athenian politician and general Themistocles had proposed that the allied Greeks block the advance of the Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae, while simultaneously blocking the Persian navy at the Straits of Artemisium. Not only that, but they also held the advantage militarily as the Spartans were trained form a very young age to fight as soldiers, while the Persians did not train as soldiers until well into their adult years. In mid-August, the Persian army was sighted across the Malian Gulf.  George B. Grundy was the first modern historian to do a thorough topographical survey of the narrow pass at Thermopylae, and to the extent that modern accounts of the battle differ from Herodotus' where they usually follow Grundy's. Xerxes may have been victorious but too many of his men were killed and too much time was wasted with futile mini battles with determined, under-manned Spartans. The constricted topography of Thermopylae was ideal for a defensive stand by the armored Greek hoplites as they could not be flanked and the more lightly armed Persians would be forced into a frontal assault.  In fact, as noted below, the pass was 100 metres wide, probably wider than the Greeks could have held against the Persian masses. The Organization of Xerxes' Army. Leonidas (c. 530-480 B.C.) Casualties for the Battle of Thermopylae are not known with any certainty, but may have been as high as 20,000 for the Persians and around 2,000-4,000 for the Greeks. 1. The battle Thermopylae is a classic example of the military might of both the Greek Phalanx and the warriors of Sparta. Western Democracy traces its roots to ancient Greece, a land of squabbling city-states. The battle took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium.  They thus probably came to Thermopylae of their own free will and stayed to the end because they could not return to Thebes if the Persians conquered Boeotia. An alliance of Greek city-states of about 6,700 men fought the invading Persian Empire, which had an army of about 242,000 men, at the pass of Thermopylae in … , According to Herodotus and Diodorus, the king, having taken the measure of the enemy, threw his best troops into a second assault the same day, the Immortals, an elite corps of 10,000 men. Herodotus claimed that there were, in total, 2.6 million military personnel, accompanied by an equivalent number of support personnel.  Having had a demonstration of his power the previous year, the majority of Greek cities duly obliged. It posed little challenge. P.A. To this Leonidas gave his famous answer: Μολὼν λαβέ (pronounced Greek pronunciation: [moˈlɔːn laˈbe]) "Come and get them. Alerted to the betrayal by a Phocian runner, Leonidas called a council of war. Demaratus called them "the bravest men in Greece" and warned the Great King they intended to dispute the pass. "hot gates") was a pass the Greeks tried to defend in a battle against the Persian forces led by Xerxes, in 480 B.C.The Greeks (Spartans and allies) knew they were outnumbered and hadn't a prayer, so it was no surprise that the Persians won the Battle of Thermopylae. Knowing that the end was near, the Greeks marched into the open field and met the Persians head-on. I meant lose horrifically and get routed after only one day of battle. On the north side of the roadway was the Malian Gulf, into which the land shelved gently. ", Herodotus also describes Leonidas' reception of a Persian envoy. Anopaea behind the cliffs that flanked the pass.  By early 480 BC, the preparations were complete, and the army which Xerxes had mustered at Sardis marched towards Europe, crossing the Hellespont on two pontoon bridges. It took place in a narrow gorge, called Thermopylae, where a group of 300 Spartan hoplites died heroically, blocking a way to the Persian army of the tsar Xerxes I. Congress adopted this dual-pronged strategy. News of the imminent Persian approach eventually reached Greece in August thanks to a Greek spy. Although coming from a mountainous country, the Persians were not prepared for the real nature of the country they had invaded. With the failure of the first assaults, Xerxes ordered an attack by his elite Immortals later in the day. At daybreak on the third day, the Phocians guarding the path were stunned to see the advancing Persians. Persian boys, it was said, were taught only three things: to ride, to tell the truth and to use the bow. Today, it is considered to have been much smaller. Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, Go, way-farer, bear news to Sparta's town.  George Cawkwell suggests that the gap between Thermopylae and Salamis was caused by Xerxes' systematically reducing Greek opposition in Phocis and Boeotia, and not as a result of the Battle of Thermopylae; thus, as a delaying action, Thermopylae was insignificant compared to Xerxes' own procrastination. The ambassador told Leonidas that Xerxes would offer him the kingship of all Greece if he joined with Xerxes. As the morning progressed, Xerxes began another frontal assault on the pass. A Greek force of approximately 7,000 men marched north to block the pass in the middle of 480 BC.  On this occasion, the ephors decided the urgency was sufficiently great to justify an advance expedition to block the pass, under one of its kings, Leonidas I. Leonidas took with him the 300 men of the royal bodyguard, the Hippeis. The great Battle of Thermopylae and the valiant fight of 300 fearless Spartans under the command of warrior King Leonidas against 10,000 elite Persian soldiers is one of … Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army of freemen defending native soil. How did the Persians win the Battle of ... plus 300 of his own Spartan warriors, with which he was expected to hold back the might of the Persian Army at the Pass of Thermopylae. However, a glance at any photograph of the pass shows there are no cliffs, only steep slopes covered in thorny bushes and trees. [b] These estimates usually come from studying the logistical capabilities of the Persians in that era, the sustainability of their respective bases of operations, and the overall manpower constraints affecting them. The outstretched chest symbolizes the struggle, the gallantry, the strength, the bravery and the courage.  More specifically, the Western idea that soldiers themselves decide where, how, and against whom they will fight was contrasted against the Eastern notion of despotism and monarchy—freedom proving the stronger idea as the more courageous fighting of the Greeks at Thermopylae, and their later victories at Salamis and Plataea attested. The answer was: all the other men were participating in the Olympic Games. ... Xerxes had every reason to congratulate himself", while Lazenby describes the Greek defeat as "disastrous".. Or, in exchange, must all through the whole Laconian country, Mourn for the loss of a king, descendant of great Heracles. The Battle at Salamis: When the Persian king, Xerxes, invaded Greece in the spring of 480 BCE, he did so at the head of a vast army. Thermopylae, a narrow pass on the east coast of Greece, also one of the best Greek army strategies used against the Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae. (Godley translation) or otherwise, "Ye Gods, Mardonius, what men have you brought us to fight against? It is also the hill on which the last of them died. Here, therefore, we must remain; and the Persians, if they go through the pass at all, must go through it over our graves. In the Battle of Thermopylae (as detailed almost entirely by Herodotus), which occurred in 480 BC , an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian Empire at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. The vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians for seven days (including three of battle) before the rear-guard was annihilated in one of history's most famous last stands.  Here, on Alexander the Great's campaign against Persia in 330 BC to exact revenge for the Persian invasion of Greece, he faced the same situation, encountering a last stand of the Persian forces (under Ariobarzanes) at a narrow pass near Persepolis who held the invaders for a month, until their fall as the enemy found a path to their rear. It led the Persians behind the Greek lines. But Thermopylae, with its tale of courage against the odds and resolution in the face of death, captured the imagination and it maintains its hold two and a half millennia later as the definitive last stand and the ultimate patriotic sacrifice.  Conversely, for the Persians the problem of supplying such a large army meant they could not remain in the same place for very long.  It seems that the Thespians volunteered to remain as a simple act of self-sacrifice, all the more amazing since their contingent represented every single hoplite the city could muster. W. Heckel, "Alexander at the Persian Gates", Second Persian invasion of Greece § Size of the Persian forces, The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources of the Achaemenid Period, "Battle of Thermopylae | Date, Location, and Facts", http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0160%3Abook%3D10%3Achapter%3D21, "Diodorus Siculus, Library, Book XI, Chapter 8, section 5", "Greco-Persian Wars: Battle of Thermopylae", "Sparse Spartan Verse: Filling Gaps in the Thermopylae Epigram", "Herodotus, The Histories, Book 7, chapter 226, section 1", "Greece Issues Commemorative Coins for 2500th Anniversary of Battle of Thermopylae", "Herodotus: The Seventh, Eighth & Ninth Books with Introduction and Commentary: Commentary on Herodotus, Histories, book 7, chapter 228", Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae, 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae: Herodotus' Real History, "Herodotus' twenty-second logos: Thermopylae", 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Battle_of_Thermopylae&oldid=999723828, Articles with dead external links from June 2020, Articles with permanently dead external links, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing Ancient Greek (to 1453)-language text, Articles with unsourced statements from October 2016, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. After the Persian invasion was repulsed, a stone lion was erected at Thermopylae to commemorate Leonidas. . It was held at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae ("The Hot Gates") in August or September 480 BC. No real consensus exists; even the most recent estimates by academics vary between 120,000 and 300,000. Meeting, the leaders of Sparta decided that the situation was significantly urgent to dispatch troops under one of their kings, Leonidas. It was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. , Xerxes sent a Persian emissary to negotiate with Leonidas. , The "congress" met again in the spring of 480 BC.  Thus, despite the heavy losses, forcing the pass was strategically a Persian victory, but the successful retreat of the bulk of the Greek troops was in its own sense a victory as well.  Also surviving is an epitome of the account of Ctesias, by the eighth-century Byzantine Photios, though this is "almost worse than useless", missing key events in the battle such as the betrayal of Ephialtes, and the account of Diodorus Siculus in his Universal History. With war nearing, the Greek congress met again in the spring of 480. The Geographical Analysis of the Battle of Thermopylae and how it Affected the Outcome The Spartans at Thermopylae held the advantage due to the massive bluffs on either side of the pass.  The Sicilian historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in the 1st century BC in his Bibliotheca historica, also provides an account of the Greco-Persian wars, partially derived from the earlier Greek historian Ephorus.  As the Immortals approached, the Greeks withdrew and took a stand on a hill behind the wall. Having been turned back at Marathon in 490 BC, Persian forces returned to Greece ten years later to avenge their defeat and conquer the peninsula. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. The Battle of Thermopylae is believed to have been fought in August 480 BC, during the Persian Wars (499 BC-449 BC). M. Trundle, “Thermopylae”, in: C. Matthew and M. Trundle (eds. Behind them lay everything they held dear: their city, their homes, their families. Simonides went as far as to put the Persian number at Three million.  The Greeks fought in front of the Phocian wall, at the narrowest part of the pass, which enabled them to use as few soldiers as possible. Since the Greek strategy required both Thermopylae and Artemisium to be held, given their losses, it was decided to withdraw to Salamis. The Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC, was a battle in the second Persian invasion of Greece. The Greek fleet—seeking a decisive victory over the Persian armada—attacked and defeated the invaders at the Battle of Salamis in late 480 BC.  The Persian army arrived at the pass in late August or early September.  Curtius describes the subsequent battle fought by the surrounded, unarmed Persians as "memorable".  In fact, Herodotus' account of the battle, in Book VII of his Histories, is such an important source that Paul Cartledge wrote: "we either write a history of Thermopylae with [Herodotus], or not at all".
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