However, Xerxes was known for his rage. It was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. The Persian invasion was a delayed response to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece, which had been ended by the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved, Stranger! The battle of Thermopylae is one of the most memorable battles fought during the Persian wars. 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. Look at other dictionaries: battle of Thermopylae — noun a famous battle in 480 BC; a Greek army under Leonidas was annihilated by the Persians who were trying to conquer Greece • Syn: ↑Thermopylae • Regions: ↑Greece, ↑Hellenic Republic, ↑Ellas • Instance Hypernyms: ↑pitched battle … Useful english dictionary. The Battle of Thermopylae (/θərˈmɒpɪliː/ thər-MOP-i-lee; Greek: Μάχη 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. Herodotus writes that when Dienekes, a Spartan soldier, was informed that Persian arrows would be so numerous as "to block out the sun", he retorted, "So much the better...then we shall fight our battle in the shade.  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. The invasion was brought to an end the following year after the Greek victory at the Battle of Plataea. , Learning from a runner that the Phocians had not held the path, Leonidas called a council of war at dawn. 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. , The pass at Thermopylae was thus opened to the Persian army, according to Herodotus, at the cost to the Persians of up to 20,000 fatalities. United, this congress would have the power to dispatch troops to defend the region. References Bradford, Ernie. 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. ", Barkworth, 1993. The first line of the epigram was used as the title of the short story "Stranger, Bear Word to the Spartans We…" by German Nobel Prize laureate Heinrich Böll. They were joined by 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians, while the remainder of the army fell back.  Some Peloponnesians suggested withdrawal to the Isthmus of Corinth and blocking the passage to Peloponnesus. " This probably describes the standard Greek phalanx, in which the men formed a wall of overlapping shields and layered spear points protruding out from the sides of the shields, which would have been highly effective as long as it spanned the width of the pass. The battle was fought for over three days, at the same time as the naval Battle of Artemisium on 20 August or 8–10 September, 480 BC. This approach was agreed to as it would negate the Persian's overwhelming numerical superiority and the Greek fleet could provide support in the Straits of Artemisium. For the number of them that disappeared beneath the mud was great. The Battle of Thermopylae is believed to have been fought in August 480 BC, during the Persian Wars (499 BC-449 BC).  The Persians, therefore, had to retreat or advance, and advancing required forcing the pass of Thermopylae. A well-known epigram, usually attributed to Simonides, was engraved as an epitaph on a commemorative stone placed on top of the burial mound of the Spartans at Thermopylae. an alliance of 140 Greek city-states that wanted to rid Persians from all Greek lands. It is true that there was an epic battle at Thermopylae where King Leonidas of Sparta took 300 soldiers, all with a male heir at home, into the ‘Hot Gates’ where they held the Persian army at bay for three days. These accounts are obviously not verifiable, but they form an integral part of the legend of the battle and often demonstrate the laconic speech (and wit) of the Spartans to good effect. Persian infantry was lightly equipped, no armor, and wooden shields. The open wing symbolizes the victory, the glory, the soul, the spirit and the freedom. During the Carneia, military activity was forbidden by Spartan law; the Spartans had arrived too late at the Battle of Marathon because of this requirement. Herodotus says they jumped up and were greatly amazed. The text from Herodotus is:, The alternative ancient reading πειθόμενοι νομίμοις (peithomenoi nomίmois) for ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι (rhēmasi peithomenoi) substitutes "laws" or "orders" for "words." Leonidas answered: "If you had any knowledge of the noble things of life, you would refrain from coveting others' possessions; but for me to die for Greece is better than to be the sole ruler over the people of my race. , Leonidas' actions have been the subject of much discussion. 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. Although no obstacle to individuals, such terrain would not be passable by an army and its baggage train.  This expedition was to try to gather as many other Greek soldiers along the way as possible and to await the arrival of the main Spartan army.. . Leonidas' famous response to the Persians was "Molṑn labé" (Μολὼν λαβέ - literally, "having come, take [them]", but usually translated as "come and take them"). The most popular misconception about the Battle of Thermopylae probably relates to the numbers fielded in the battle. Learning of Persian intentions, the Greek city-states began making preparations for war. , Themistocles, therefore, suggested a second strategy to the Greeks: the route to southern Greece (Boeotia, Attica, and the Peloponnesus) would require Xerxes' army to travel through the very narrow pass of Thermopylae, which could easily be blocked by the Greek hoplites, despite the overwhelming numbers of Persians. , 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. Since Athens had the superior navy, all of the city-states paid taxes to Athens to build up their navy, so if Persia was ever to return, Athens would have a great navy and beat them. ", It is reported that, upon arriving at Thermopylae, the Persians sent a mounted scout to reconnoitre. 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. , Tactically, the pass at Thermopylae was ideally suited to the Greek style of warfare.  However, within the context of the Persian invasion, Thermopylae was undoubtedly a defeat for the Greeks. Herodotus claimed that there were, in total, 2.6 million military personnel, accompanied by an equivalent number of support personnel. It is also an example of Laconian brevity, which allows for varying interpretations of the meaning of the poem. However, he does not say who those men were. Thermopylae (lit. THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE The Battle of Thermopylae is a classic example of the Spartan creed of kill or be killed. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. P.A. Taking advantage of this information, Xerxes ordered Hydarnes to take a large force, including the Immortals, on a flanking march over the trail.  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. The Persian army seems to have made slow progress through Thrace and Macedon. Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους = History of the Greek nation volume Β', Athens 1971, This page was last edited on 11 January 2021, at 16:59. 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.  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