A History Of The Battle Of Thermopylae

The Battle of Thermopylae, a famous battle, was fought by the Persians against the Greek city state alliance. Herodotus & Diodorus were among the many historians who recorded this battle. Even today, it is being written by modern writers through “300”. As each historian wrote their perspective at a different point in time, the contents of what they wrote varied. Herodotus’s account of The Histories is more detailed, with a focus on key players in the battle. Diodorus’s version has the same details, but it’s more summarized. Beigel’s essay about “300” concentrates more on Spartan women.

There’s a little contrast between Xerxes (the powerful ruler) and Leonidas (the Spartan leader), and their respective armies. Xerxes has been described as a strong ruler who had a powerful army that numbered “2,641,610 fighting men” in Histories.VII.185, which caused “the never-ending rivers to dry” DoS.11.5. Leonidas commanded an army of thousands and hundreds that did not retreat from the Persians. Leonidas also had more intelligence than Xerxes. He told his ephors he had a thousand men, “a lot” for the job they were about to undertake. DoS.11.4. Knowing that defending the city gates would give them an advantage over retreating. Xerxes’ army “hurled themselves on the Greeks… with great force” during the battle DoS.11.8, whereas, the Greeks fought much more effectively, “making like they were flying away… would then wheel around to face their pursuers.” Histories.VII.211. The Greeks were able to defeat the Persian army with little loss of life because they coordinated and strategized well. Ephialtes is responsible for the Persian army’s continued losses if he hadn’t betrayed them and shown Xerxes a flanking route.

The idea of glory is discussed in all the texts. Leonidas ordered the Greeks to retreat after the Persians found the flanking path, but he chose to stay with the Spartans. “If he stayed he would receive glory, and Sparta, in this case, wouldn’t lose her prosperity.” Histories.VII.220. It would’ve been dishonorable if they had returned home only to have them defeated by the Persians. The Persians will be able to defeat them later, and they’ll have earned “immorality”. Aristodemus & Eurytus lost their respect and pride even if they were able to return home. Eurytus fought in the war and died. Aristodemus returned home to Laceaemon where he was ridiculed and rebuked by Spartans.

Spartan woman are viewed as more superior than other women in the city-states of that time. A man and woman, in most cases, are equals. In “300”, Gorgo is insulted and shocked when he speaks with the messenger personally. It is clear that women in Spartan societies can be equals to men. This is not the case in Persia. Spartan men and women work together to make decisions. Leonidas asks his wife’s approval before kicking the messenger in the hole.


  • oscarcunningham

    Oscar Cunningham is a 41-year-old educational blogger and professor. He has been writing about education for over 10 years, and is known for his expertise on online learning and digital media. Cunningham is also a frequent speaker on these topics, and has given talks at a range of universities around the world. In his spare time, he also enjoys playing the violin and running.

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