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. Demaratus called them "the bravest men in Greece" and warned the Great King they intended to dispute the pass. [95] They fought with spears, until every spear was shattered, and then switched to xiphē (short swords). Leonidas calmed the panic and agreed to defend Thermopylae. [37] 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. Recent core samples indicate that the pass was only 100 metres (330 ft) wide, and the waters came up to the gates: "Little do the visitors realize that the battle took place across the road from the monument. [54] The name "Hot Gates" comes from the hot springs that were located there. Knowing that the end was near, the Greeks marched into the open field and met the Persians head-on. [49][50] 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. [7.219] To the Greeks who were in Thermopylae first the soothsayer Megistias, after looking into the victims which were sacrificed, declared the death which was to come to them at dawn of day; and afterwards deserters brought the report of the Persians having gone round. [7.232] He however in the battle at Plataea repaired all the guilt that was charged against him: but it is reported that another man also survived of these three hundred, whose name was Pantites, having been sent as a messenger to Thessaly, and this man, when he returned back to Sparta and found himself dishonored, is said to have strangled himself. [29], Darius sent emissaries to all the Greek city-states in 491 BC asking for a gift of "earth and water" as tokens of their submission to him. It was held at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae ("The Hot Gates") in August or September 480 BC. [78] Conversely, for the Persians the problem of supplying such a large army meant they could not remain in the same place for very long. Free Online Library: SIMONIDES, EPHORUS, AND HERODOTUS ON THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE. [106] He feared they were Spartans but was informed by Ephialtes that they were not. As Holland puts it, "in short...we will never know. A plate below the statue explains its symbolism: The monument to the Thespians is placed beside the one to the Spartans. [23][24], 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. First, he ordered 5,000 archers to shoot a barrage of arrows, but they were ineffective; they shot from at least 100 yards away, according to modern day scholars, and the Greeks' wooden shields (sometimes covered with a very thin layer of bronze) and bronze helmets deflected the arrows. [41] Support thus began to coalesce around these two leading states. [131] Meanwhile, at the near-simultaneous naval Battle of Mycale, they also destroyed much of the remaining Persian fleet, thereby reducing the threat of further invasions. Herodotus and the Persian Wars • The Second Persian War (481-479 BCE) –Xerxes drives his forces south –The Battle of Thermopylae (480 BCE): Leonidas and 300 Spartans hold off the whole Persian army –Thebes “medizes” –Xerxes captures and burns Athens •in … Accordingly, since they did not suppose that the fighting in Thermopylae would so soon be decided, they sent only the forerunners of their force. Although no obstacle to individuals, such terrain would not be passable by an army and its baggage train. In a later passage, describing a Gaulish attempt to force the pass, Pausanias states "The cavalry on both sides proved useless, as the ground at the Pass is not only narrow, but also smooth because of the natural rock, while most of it is slippery owing to its being covered with streams...the losses of the barbarians it was impossible to discover exactly. If they had all remained at the pass, they would have been encircled and would eventually have all been killed. Thermopylae (Greek Θερμοπύλαι; "Hot Gates"): small pass in Greece, site of several battles, of which the Spartan defeat against the Persian invaders in 480 is the most famous. On the north side of the roadway was the Malian Gulf, into which the land shelved gently. [68] [95] A Persian force of 10,000 men, comprising light infantry and cavalry, charged at the front of the Greek formation. . [113] This seems to have been a particularly Thespian trait – on at least two other occasions in later history, a Thespian force would commit itself to a fight to the death.[111]. [105], Learning from a runner that the Phocians had not held the path, Leonidas called a council of war at dawn. [116] Of the remaining defenders, Herodotus says: "Here they defended themselves to the last, those who still had swords using them, and the others resisting with their hands and teeth. Herodotus – The Histories, Book 7, “Polymnia” [138-239] – Battle of Thermopylae. Cicero recorded a Latin variation in his Tusculanae Disputationes (1.42.101): Additionally, there is a modern monument at the site, called the "Leonidas Monument" by Vassos Falireas, in honour of the Spartan king. Herodotus catalogs the many c... Read More; Book 7, The Battle of Thermopylae: Herodotus notes that while Xerxes ostensibly meant to punish Athens, his real intent was to conquer all of Greece. "[167], After the battle, Xerxes was curious as to what the Greeks had been trying to do (presumably because they had had so few men) and had some Arcadian deserters interrogated in his presence. Legend has it that he had the very water of the Hellespont whipped because it would not obey him. [6], 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. Histories Book 8 Summary & Analysis Book 8 Summary Book 8 traces the movements of the Greek and Persian forces after the battle of Thermopylae, as Xerxes continues his march toward Attica. Herodotus was an extremely significant historian who … [101] Ephialtes was motivated by the desire for a reward. [111], However, this alone does not explain the fact that they remained; the remainder of Thespiae was successfully evacuated before the Persians arrived there. Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica, Saying 11. "[166], Such laconic bravery doubtlessly helped to maintain morale. On the following day the barbarians strove with no better success; for because the men opposed to them were few in number, they engaged in battle with the expectation that they would be found to be disabled and would not be capable any longer of raising their hands against them in fight. The barbarians with Xerxes were accordingly advancing to the attack; and the Greeks with Leonidas, feeling that they were going forth to death, now advanced out much further than at first into the broader part of the defile; for when the fence of the wall was being guarded, they on the former days fought retiring before the enemy into the narrow part of the pass; but now they engaged with them outside the narrows, and very many of the barbarians fell: for behind them the leaders of the divisions with scourges in their hands were striking each man, ever urging them on to the front. The hillsides along the pass are covered in thick brush, with some plants reaching 10 feet (3.0 m) high. [43], The "congress" met again in the spring of 480 BC. The simultaneous naval Battle of Artemisium had been a tactical stalemate, and the Greek navy was able to retreat in good order to the Saronic Gulf, where they helped to ferry the remaining Athenian citizens to the island of Salamis. 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. Herodotus, The Histories A. D. Godley, Ed. For instance, Cawkwell states: "he was successful on both land and sea, and the Great Invasion began with a brilliant success. [132], Thermopylae is arguably the most famous battle in European ancient history, repeatedly referenced in ancient, recent, and contemporary culture. [112], Following Thermopylae, the Persian army proceeded to sack and burn Plataea and Thespiae, the Boeotian cities that had not submitted, before it marched on the now evacuated city of Athens and accomplished the Achaemenid destruction of Athens. ", Similarities between the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Persian Gate have been recognized by both ancient and modern authors,[170] which describe it as a kind of reversal of the Battle of Thermopylae,[171] calling it "the Persian Thermopylae". [47], The Persian army seems to have made slow progress through Thrace and Macedon. The Battle of Thermopylae was the initial engagement between the Persian Empire and the confederation of Greek city-states led by Sparta during the Second Persian Invasion of Greece in … [78] The Greek position at Thermopylae, despite being massively outnumbered, was nearly impregnable. "Sparta", the title track of power-metal band Sabaton's 2016 album "The Last Stand"), in television programs, and in video games. Stranger, bear this message to the Spartans. Macaulay, with adaptations. The Greeks get ready for the big battle. Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending its native soil. Xerxes amassed a huge army and navy, and set out for the second time to conquer all of Greece. There was also the Battle of Thermopylae which is the basis of the extremely … [7.218] While the Persians were ascending, they were concealed from these, since all the mountain was covered with oak trees; and the Phocians became aware of them after they had made the ascent as follows: the day was calm, and not a little noise was made by the Persians, as was likely when leaves were lying spread upon the ground under their feet; upon which the Phocians started up and began to put on their arms, and by this time the barbarians were close upon them. The old track appears at the foot of the hills around the plain, flanked by a modern road. The Greek rearguard meanwhile, was annihilated, with a probable loss of 2,000 men, including those killed on the first two days of battle. Herodotus catalogs the many c... Read More; Book 7, The Battle of Thermopylae: Herodotus notes that while Xerxes ostensibly meant to punish Athens, his real intent was to conquer all of Greece. ... Xerxes had every reason to congratulate himself",[140] while Lazenby describes the Greek defeat as "disastrous".[135]. After the Persian invasion was repulsed, a stone lion was erected at Thermopylae to commemorate Leonidas. In Athens, however, the ambassadors were put on trial and then executed by throwing them in a pit; in Sparta, they were simply thrown down a well. "[96] 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. This was remarkable for the disjointed and chaotic Greek world, especially since many of the city-states in attendance were still technically at war with each other. It is also an example of Laconian brevity, which allows for varying interpretations of the meaning of the poem. [83], The terrain of the battlefield was nothing that Xerxes and his forces were accustomed to. [112] If the position had been held for even a little longer, the Persians might have had to retreat for lack of food and water. [62] 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. [174], "300 Spartans" redirects here. [57] Some Peloponnesians suggested withdrawal to the Isthmus of Corinth and blocking the passage to Peloponnesus. [98] The Spartans apparently used a tactic of feigning retreat, and then turning and killing the enemy troops when they ran after them. "[100] However, the Persians had no more success on the second day than on the first. It has also been proposed that the failure to retreat from Thermopylae gave rise to the notion that Spartans never retreated. [7.222] The allies then who were dismissed departed and went away, obeying the word of Leonidas, and only the Thespians and the Thebans remained behind with the Spartans. [106], Leonidas' actions have been the subject of much discussion. [7.234] Thus did the Greeks at Thermopylae contend in fight. [102], 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. [7.207] These had intended to do thus, and meanwhile the Greeks at Thermopylae, when the Persian had come near to the pass, were in dread, and deliberated about making retreat from their position. [7.205] For as he had two brothers each older than himself, namely Cleomenes and Dorieus, he had been far removed from the thought of becoming king. [98], 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. [21] Also surviving is an epitome of the account of Ctesias, by the eighth-century Byzantine Photios, though this is "almost worse than useless",[22] missing key events in the battle such as the betrayal of Ephialtes, and the account of Diodorus Siculus in his Universal History. [138] Furthermore, this idea also neglects the fact that a Greek navy was fighting at Artemisium during the Battle of Thermopylae, incurring losses in the process. The Persian army was rumoured to have numbered over one million soldiers. Named Polymnia after the greek muse of sacred poetry. This page was created in 2008; last modified on 16 July 2020. In Western culture at least, it is the Greeks who are lauded for their performance in battle. Luring the Persian navy into the Straits of Salamis, the Greek fleet was able to destroy much of the Persian fleet in the Battle of Salamis, which essentially ended the threat to the Peloponnese. Leonidas' famous response to the Persians was "Molṑn labé" (Μολὼν λαβέ - literally, "having come, take [them]", but usually translated as "come and take them"). [162], In 1997, a second monument was officially unveiled by the Greek government, dedicated to the 700 Thespians who fought with the Spartans. The Persian invasion was a delayed response to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece. The battle took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August or September 480 BC, at the pass of Thermopylae ('The Hot Gates'). [7.227] This and other sayings of this kind they report that Dieneces the Spartan left as memorials of himself; and after him the bravest they say of the Spartans were two brothers Alpheus and Maron, sons of Orsiphantos. Although coming from a mountainous country, the Persians were not prepared for the real nature of the country they had invaded. Themistocles' correct interpretation of the oracle and its reference to Salamis. Greek epitaphs often appealed to the passing reader (always called 'stranger') for sympathy, but the epitaph for the dead Spartans at Thermopylae took this convention much further than usual, asking the reader to make a personal journey to Sparta to break the news that the Spartan expeditionary force had been wiped out. And they send the fleet to guard Artemisium. [51] However, as Plutarch long ago pointed out, if they were hostages, why not send them away with the rest of the Greeks? It branched, with one path leading to Phocis and the other down to the Malian Gulf at Alpenus, the first town of Locris. [136] Far from labelling Thermopylae as a Pyrrhic victory, modern academic treatises on the Greco-Persian Wars tend to emphasise the success of Xerxes in breaching the formidable Greek position and the subsequent conquest of the majority of Greece. After the second day, a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a small path used by shepherds. 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