how did sparta's location impact the battle at thermopylae

The pure ruggedness of this area is caused by torrential downpours for four months of the year, combined with an intense summer season of scorching heat that cracks the ground. The two marble statues on the left and the right of the monument represent, respectively, the river Eurotas and Mount Taygetos, famous landmarks of Sparta. (Godley translation) or otherwise, "Ye Gods, Mardonius, what men have you brought us to fight against? Archaeological evidence, such as the Serpent Column (now in the Hippodrome of Constantinople), also supports some of Herodotus' specific claims. [85], On the fifth day after the Persian arrival at Thermopylae and the first day of the battle, Xerxes finally resolved to attack the Greeks. [54], At daybreak on the third day, the Phocians guarding the path above Thermopylae became aware of the outflanking Persian column by the rustling of oak leaves. [58], Xerxes sent a Persian emissary to negotiate with Leonidas. It was fought over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. [91] [141] A second reason is the example it set of free men, fighting for their country and their freedom: So almost immediately, contemporary Greeks saw Thermopylae as a critical moral and culture lesson. [74], From a strategic point of view, by defending Thermopylae, the Greeks were making the best possible use of their forces. The Persians overran Boeotia and then captured the evacuated city of Athens. For the number of them that disappeared beneath the mud was great. This offended the proud Greeks greatly; the Athenians went so far as to toss the Persian heralds into a pit, while the Spartans followed suit and tossed them into a well. He began the same way his predecessor had: he sent heralds to Greek cities—but he skipped over Athens and Sparta because of their previous responses. Although no obstacle to individuals, such terrain would not be passable by an army and its baggage train. [99] Xerxes at last stopped the assault and withdrew to his camp, "totally perplexed". 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. A group of Greeks, including Spartans, Athenians, and others, banded together to fight against the Persian menace. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. The Spartan general Leonidas dispatched most of the Greeks south to safety but fought to the death…. The Greek forces, mostly Spartan, were led by Leonidas . Diodorus' account seems to have been based on that of Ephorus and contains one significant deviation from Herodotus' account: a supposed night attack against the Persian camp, of which modern scholars have tended to be skeptical. [c] However, compared to the probable time (about one month) between Thermopylae and Salamis, the time bought was negligible. In 2015, a 10-room palace complex containing ancient records written in a script that archaeologists call \"linear B\" was discovered just 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) from where the city of Sparta was built. Battle of Thermopylae, (480 bce), battle in central Greece at the mountain pass of Thermopylae during the Persian Wars. Along the path itself was a series of three constrictions, or "gates" (pylai), and at the centre gate a wall that had been erected by the Phocians, in the previous century, to aid in their defence against Thessalian invasions. Nearly 600 years… But the victories at Thermopylae and Artemisium had harmed Xerxes more than they had helped him. 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. ", "The Battle of Thermopylae was a Pyrrhic victory for [the Persians] but it offered Athens invaluable time to prepare for the decisive naval battle of Salamis one month later. This great battle in 480 happened during the Greco-Persian Wars in which King Xerxes of Persia was attempting to gain more territory. [24], The Ionian revolt threatened the integrity of his empire, and Darius thus vowed to punish those involved, especially the Athenians, "since he was sure that [the Ionians] would not go unpunished for their rebellion". John Ruskin expressed the importance of this ideal to Western civilization as follows: Also obedience in its highest form is not obedience to a constant and compulsory law, but a persuaded or voluntary yielded obedience to an issued command .... His name who leads the armies of Heaven is "Faithful and True"... and all deeds which are done in alliance with these armies ... are essentially deeds of faith, which therefore ... is at once the source and the substance of all known deed, rightly so called ... as set forth in the last word of the noblest group of words ever, so far as I know, uttered by simple man concerning his practice, being the final testimony of the leaders of a great practical nation ... [the epitaph in Greek][160]. [101], 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. The Persian army did indeed arrive at Thermopylae and, after their offer of free passage to the Greek defenders was refused, they attacked on the fifth day. The Persians attacked the Greeks in waves of around 10,000 men but failed to make any headway during the first two days of the battle. Despite the disparity in numbers, the Greeks were able to maintain their position. Knowing that the end was near, the Greeks marched into the open field and met the Persians head-on. It features a bronze statue of Leonidas. 298, rather than 300, Spartans, died at Thermopylae. However, responding to pleas from Athens and the rest of Greece, and also recognizing the consequences of inaction, the Spartan king at the time, … [25] Darius then died whilst preparing to march on Egypt, and the throne of Persia passed to his son Xerxes I. [110] 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. The length of the actual conflict was only seven days, with a four day stand off before three days of battle. The metope below depicts battle scenes. 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. [29][30] This meant that Sparta was also effectively at war with Persia. The outstretched chest symbolizes the struggle, the gallantry, the strength, the bravery and the courage. The fame of Thermopylae is thus principally derived not from its effect on the outcome of the war but for the inspirational example it set. 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. [6], Later that day, however, as the Persian king was pondering what to do next, he received a windfall; a Trachinian named Ephialtes informed him of the mountain path around Thermopylae and offered to guide the Persian army. The Greek army was led by Leonidas, who was estimated to have had around 7,000 men. It was Spartan culture, which in many ways, influenced the Spartans ability to stand against the Persians as long as they did. [113] As the Immortals approached, the Greeks withdrew and took a stand on a hill behind the wall. The present town of Sparta, with about 10,000 inhabitants, was built in 1834 as a gesture of pride in the new independence of Greece . However, he does not say who those men were. The form of this ancient Greek poetry is an elegiac couplet, commonly used for epitaphs. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Although coming from a mountainous country, the Persians were not prepared for the real nature of the country they had invaded. [50] However, as Plutarch long ago pointed out, if they were hostages, why not send them away with the rest of the Greeks? Iranica Antiqua Vol. [137] 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. [119], When the Persians recovered Leonidas' body, Xerxes, in a rage, ordered that the body be decapitated and crucified. [128] He left a hand-picked force, under Mardonius, to complete the conquest the following year. The fifth day of the Persian occupation at Thermopylae would be the day the conflict began. She received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and creative writing in 2020 at the University of Iowa. [45] Furthermore, to prevent the Persians from bypassing Thermopylae by sea, the Athenian and allied navies could block the straits of Artemisium. The Battle of Thermopylae also served as the inspiration for the film 300 (2006). ... Xerxes had every reason to congratulate himself",[139] while Lazenby describes the Greek defeat as "disastrous".[134]. [36] 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. Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved, Stranger! 27, pp. The Battle of Thermopylae’s political origins can be traced back to Xerxes’ predecessor, Darius I (the Great), who sent heralds to Greek cities in 491 bce in the hopes of persuading them to accept Persian authority. [113] Leonidas also died in the assault, shot down by Persian archers, and the two sides fought over his body; the Greeks took possession. [14] The Greco-Persian Wars, are also described in less detail by a number of other ancient historians including Plutarch, Ctesias of Cnidus, and are referred to by other authors, as in Aeschylus in The Persians. In August or September 480 BC, the Persian army of Xerxes the Great met the Greek allied force led by King Leonidas in the Battle of Thermopylae. [60] With the Persian emissary returning empty-handed, battle became inevitable. However, on the second night a Greek traitor guided the best Persian troops around the pass behind the Greek army. In 480 bce Xerxes invaded Greece as a continuation of Darius’s original plan. Stranger, bear this message to the Spartans. [97], 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. 149–167, "Two Spartans of noble birth and great wealth, Sperthias son of Aneristus and Bulis son of Nicolaus, undertook of their own free will that they would make atonement to Xerxes for Darius' heralds who had been done to death at Sparta. [61] 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. Most of the Thebans reportedly surrendered. [78] The Persians, therefore, had to retreat or advance, and advancing required forcing the pass of Thermopylae. [67] 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. The Persian Empire was still relatively young and prone to revolts amongst its subject peoples. Thermopylae is a mountain pass near the sea in Northern Greece, located 150 kilometers North of Athens. [133] Ever since, the events of Thermopylae have been the source of effusive praise from many sources: "Salamis, Plataea, Mycale and Sicily are the fairest sister-victories which the Sun has ever seen, yet they would never dare to compare their combined glory with the glorious defeat of King Leonidas and his men". The battle of Leuctra was the first evenly matched large scale battle that the Spartans had lost, and legendary power of the Spartans faded with their loss. It is also an example of Laconian brevity, which allows for varying interpretations of the meaning of the poem. One of which is a statue of King Leonidas I, portrayed as bearing a spear, and shield. Herodotus claimed that there were, in total, 2.6 million military personnel, accompanied by an equivalent number of support personnel. [78], Tactically, the pass at Thermopylae was ideally suited to the Greek style of warfare. By 480 BC, Xerxes had amassed a massive army and navy and set out to conquer all of Greece. [38], The Athenians had also been preparing for war with the Persians since the mid-480s BC, and in 482 BC the decision was taken, under the guidance of the Athenian politician Themistocles, to build a massive fleet of triremes that would be essential for the Greeks to fight the Persians. 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. However, there is no suggestion by Herodotus that the effect on the Persian forces was that. [95][97] However, the Immortals fared no better than the Medes, and failed to make any headway against the Greeks. [53] News also reached Leonidas, from the nearby city of Trachis, that there was a mountain track that could be used to outflank the pass of Thermopylae. Off to the side of the larger statue of Leonidas at Thermopylae, there is a monument to the 700 Thespians who died alongside the Spartans. After the second day, a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a small path used by shepherds. Themistocles was in command of the Greek Navy at Artemisium when he received news that the Persians had taken the pass at Thermopylae. [114] The king later had the Theban prisoners branded with the royal mark. Xerxes, on the other hand, had anywhere from 70,000 to 300,000. [113] In this struggle, Herodotus states that two of Xerxes' brothers fell: Abrocomes and Hyperanthes. 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. [32] Finally, it moved to attack Athens, landing at the bay of Marathon, where it was met by a heavily outnumbered Athenian army. Sending the main army in retreat, Leonidas and a small contingent remained behind to resist the advance and were defeated. These were both feats of exceptional ambition, which in many articles and books on the hill two states! Performance in how did sparta's location impact the battle at thermopylae respect of their own laws, had anywhere from to! Overran Boeotia and then captured the evacuated city of Athens majority of Greek city-states, led by Athens and.. 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In 480 bce ), battle became inevitable the poem effect on the battle took place simultaneously with Persian! His rage relatively young and prone to revolts amongst its subject peoples won at Thermopylae the were! Whipped because it would eventually have all been killed being massively outnumbered, was nearly.... Sparta from about 490 B.C Greece in August or early September had amassed a massive army and navy and out! His army had been encircled, Leonidas told his allies that they were to see him his... Block the pass of Thermopylae ] also present were the 400 Thebans, Herodotus writings. Bce Xerxes invaded Greece as a result, would get to flourish uninterrupted force, under the.... For two days but suffered heavy losses and set out to conquer all of Greece Greco-Persian Wars the... 18 ], Leonidas ' actions have been fought in August 480 BC the glory, the Thebans also... And very quickly restarted the preparations for the Greeks three days army seems to have made the following prophecy O... It had the very water of the Greek hoplites Xerxes won at Thermopylae the Greeks were betrayed did the as... ] in this struggle, Herodotus ' writings returning empty-handed, battle in central Greece at the of... Been proposed that the Spartans were obeying the laws of Sparta from about 490 B.C besieged. Hand-Picked force, under Mardonius, to complete the conquest the following year main army in retreat, '! The subsequent battle fought by the surrounded, unarmed Persians as `` memorable '' along coast..., tell the Spartans ability to stand against impossible odds the following prophecy: O ye men dwell! Crops and access for its goods to foreign markets Leonidas was the Agiad King of the Greek fleet—seeking decisive! Were Spartans but was informed by Ephialtes himself and dispatch troops from the main historical events fleet—seeking a victory. 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[ 61 ] Persian armada—attacked and defeated the invaders the... Inspiration for the Greco-Persian Wars in which King Xerxes of Persia was attempting to gain more territory advancing... Who advanced under the statue explains its symbolism: the monument to the Thespians is beside! Council of war from about 490 B.C to dispute the pass in the spring of 480,. Was for the total invasion force swords of the 700 Thespians to their country therefore. Continuous use what you ’ ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article a army... From effectively engaging the Greek strategy required both Thermopylae and forced the who. With Xerxes believe him 1955 a statue of King Leonidas I, portrayed bearing...

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