[72] The original stone has not survived, but in 1955, the epitaph was engraved on a new stone. Themistocles' correct interpretation of the oracle and its reference to Salamis. [134] However, within the context of the Persian invasion, Thermopylae was undoubtedly a defeat for the Greeks. [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. [44] A force of 10,000 hoplites was dispatched to the Vale of Tempe, through which they believed the Persian army would have to pass. [174], "300 Spartans" redirects here. True it is indeed that Onetes might know of this path, even though he were not a Malian, if he had had much intercourse with the country; but Ephialtes it was who led them round the mountain by the path, and him therefore I write down as the guilty man. [106], Leonidas' actions have been the subject of much discussion. The task force then moved on Eretria, which it besieged and destroyed. [56] With the Persian army's arrival at Thermopylae the Greeks held a council of war. (Herodotus 7.99) After the battle of Thermopylae and the Persian occupation of Attica, King Xerxes consulted his naval commanders about fighting a battle against the Greek fleet, which was gathering … The date of the Battle … [62][93] The Persians soon launched a frontal assault, in waves of around 10,000 men, on the Greek position. It was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. This activity presents the longest and most challenging reading assignment from Herodotus. [33] Finally, it moved to attack Athens, landing at the bay of Marathon, where it was met by a heavily outnumbered Athenian army. [106] By covering the retreat and continuing to block the pass, Leonidas could save more than 3,000 men, who would be able to fight again. Each lay encamped in these places. Then when the Medes moved forward and attacked the Greeks, there fell many of them, and others kept coming up continually, and they were not driven back, though suffering great loss: and they made it evident to every man, and to the king himself not least of all, that human beings are many but men are few. 206) the the … [7.221] Of this the following has been to my mind a proof as convincing as any other, namely that Leonidas is known to have endeavoured to dismiss the soothsayer also who accompanied this army, Megistias the Acarnanian, who was said to be descended from Melampus, that he might not perish with them after he had declared from the victims that which was about to come to pass for them. That boosted the morale of all Greek soldiers in the second Persian invasion. [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. [132], Thermopylae is arguably the most famous battle in European ancient history, repeatedly referenced in ancient, recent, and contemporary culture. 9.1", "denarius") All Search Options [view abbreviations] Home Collections/Texts Perseus Catalog Research Grants Open Source About … Activity 3. Or, in exchange, must all through the whole Laconian country, Mourn for the loss of a king, descendant of great Heracles. Modern scholars tend to reject the figures given by Herodotus and other ancient sources as unrealistic, resulting from miscalculations or exaggerations on the part of the victors. [7.213] Then when the king was in a strait as to what he should do in the matter before him, Ephialtes the son of Eurydemos, a Malian, came to speech with him, supposing that he would win a very great reward from the king; and this man told him of the path which leads over the mountain to Thermopylae, and brought about the destruction of those Greeks who remained in that place. 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. All rights reserved. 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. [134] 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". He then at this time went to Thermopylae, having chosen the three hundred who were appointed by law and men who chanced to have sons; and he took with him besides, before he arrived, those Thebans whom I mentioned when I reckoned them in the number of the troops, of whom the commander was Leontiades the son of Eurymachus. During these wars there was the Battle of Marathon where the first world-record marathon time was supposedly set. King Xerxes lay encamped in Trachis in Malis and the Hellenes in the pass. [105] Hydarnes was perhaps just as amazed to see them hastily arming themselves as they were to see him and his forces. In the experiment, children are … [83], The terrain of the battlefield was nothing that Xerxes and his forces were accustomed to. Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica, Saying 11. [79] Thus, despite the heavy losses, forcing the pass was strategically a Persian victory,[112] but the successful retreat of the bulk of the Greek troops was in its own sense a victory as well. Xerxes … 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. [25][26] Darius, moreover, was a Most of the Thebans reportedly surrendered. [7.231] When Aristodemus had returned home to Sparta, he had reproach and dishonor; and that which he suffered by way of dishonor was this - no one of the Spartans would either give him light for a fire or speak with him, and he had reproach in that he was called Aristodemus the coward. 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 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 … Furthermore, the numbers changed later on in the battle when most of the army retreated and only approximately 3,000 men remained (300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans, possibly up to 900 helots, and 1,000 Phocians stationed above the pass, less the casualties sustained in the previous days). [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. by "The Classical Quarterly"; History Literature, writing, book reviews Languages and … There are also links to commentary on the battle of Thermopylae. Interestingly, Herodotus stops to remember that of the Greek states, many were prone to side with the Persians, like Thessaly and Thebes. It branched, with one path leading to Phocis and the other down to the Malian Gulf at Alpenus, the first town of Locris. "—as in answer to Xerxes' demand that the Greeks give up their weapons). [7.202] These were the Greeks who awaited the attack of the Persian in This precipitates in the Battle of Thermopylae where the Greeks hold a narrow pass for three days with only three hundred men or so. [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. Simonides, Ephorus, and Herodotus on the battle of Thermopylae. Thermopylae was a very narrow pass that would prevent the Persians from using their cavalry in battle. The performance of the defenders is used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers.[144]. [107] According to Diodorus, a Persian called Tyrrhastiadas, a Cymaean by birth, warned the Greeks. 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. Accordingly, since they did not suppose that the fighting in Thermopylae would so soon be decided, they sent only the forerunners of their force. The outstretched chest symbolizes the struggle, the gallantry, the strength, the bravery and the courage. During two full days of battle, the small force led by Leonidas blocked the only road by which the massive Persian army could pass. [7.209] Hearing this Xerxes was not able to conjecture the truth about the matter, namely that they were preparing themselves to die and to deal death to the enemy so far as they might; but it seemed to him that they were acting in a manner merely ridiculous; and therefore he sent for [former Spartan king] Demaratus, the son of Ariston, who was in his camp, and when he came, Xerxes asked him of these things severally, desiring to discover what this was which the Spartans were doing: and he said: "Thou didst hear from my mouth at a former time, when we were setting forth to go against Greece, the things concerning these men; and having heard them thou madest me an object of laughter, because I told thee of these things which I perceived would come to pass; for to me it is the greatest of all ends to speak the truth continually before thee, O king. A Thessalian delegation suggested that the Greeks could muster in the narrow Vale of Tempe, on the borders of Thessaly, and thereby block Xerxes' advance. v (Milan, 1924)-hereafter, Giannelli), p. 21, dates the battle of Thermopylae to 21 August and the arrival of the Persian fleet at Phalerum to 29 August. It led the Persians behind the Greek lines. After the battle, Spartan culture became an inspiration and object of emulation, a phenomenon known as Laconophilia. Michel de Montaigne, quoted in Holland, p. Macauley translation of Herodotus, p. 220, Rawlinson translation of Herodotus, p. 51, Sélincourt translation of Herodotus (1954). Herodotus observes this was very uncommon for the Persians, as they traditionally treated "valiant warriors" with great honour (the example of Pytheas, captured off Skiathos before the Battle of Artemisium, strengthens this suggestion). [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. "[163], It is reported that, upon arriving at Thermopylae, the Persians sent a mounted scout to reconnoitre. To this Leonidas gave his famous answer: Μολὼν λαβέ (pronounced Greek pronunciation: [moˈlɔːn laˈbe]) "Come and get them. [7.223] Xerxes meanwhile, having made libations at sunrise, stayed for some time, until about the hour when the market fills, and then made an advance upon them; for thus it had been enjoined by Ephialtes, seeing that the descent of the mountain is shorter and the space to be passed over much less than the going round and the ascent. [67][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 monument is made of marble and features a bronze statue depicting the god Eros, to whom the ancient Thespians accorded particular religious veneration. This page was created in 2008; last modified on 16 July 2020. *Thermopylae was fought between an allaince of Greek city states, and the persain Empire of xerxes over the course of three days. Some modern accounts seem to know exactly on what dates the battle fell, because Herodotus says (7. 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. 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. Their main concern was to defend their city, since they weren’t willing to run away. All content copyright © 1995–2020 Livius.org. Be assured however, that if thou shalt subdue these and the rest of them which remain behind in Sparta, there is no other race of men which will await thy onset, O king, or will raise hands against thee: for now thou art about to fight against the noblest kingdom and city of those which are among the Greeks, and the best men." Od. There is an experiment to begin this book to prove the age of Phrygia. 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=995519710, 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. [114] As the Immortals approached, the Greeks withdrew and took a stand on a hill behind the wall. [115] The Thebans "moved away from their companions, and with hands upraised, advanced toward the barbarians..." (Rawlinson translation), but a few were slain before their surrender was accepted. And they send the fleet to guard Artemisium. [86], On the fifth day after the Persian arrival at Thermopylae and the first day of the battle, Xerxes finally resolved to attack the Greeks. [78], 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. Herodotus suggests they were brought to the battle as hostages to ensure the good behavior of Thebes. 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. In the face of such imposing numbers, many Greek cities capitulated to the Persian demand for a tribute of earth and water. [84], Today, the pass is not near the sea, but is several kilometres inland because of sedimentation in the Malian Gulf. Greece has announced two commemorative coins to mark 2500 years since the historic battle. [36] Since this was to be a full-scale invasion, it required long-term planning, stockpiling, and conscription. 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. Translation by William Shepherd, from the Cambridge series of translations by Greek and Roman authors. Herodotus Excerpts from Book VII of The Histories Translated and Edited by A.D. Godley, 1921-24 CCI. [30] However, in order to appease the Achaemenid king somewhat, two Spartans were voluntarily sent to Susa for execution, in atonement for the death of the Persian heralds. [111] It has also been suggested that Leonidas, recalling the words of the Oracle, was committed to sacrificing his life in order to save Sparta. [94][95] Details of the tactics are scant; Diodorus says, "the men stood shoulder to shoulder", and the Greeks were "superior in valour and in the great size of their shields. 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. [59], Xerxes sent a Persian emissary to negotiate with Leonidas. A variant of the epigram is inscribed on the Polish Cemetery at Monte Cassino. [100] Xerxes at last stopped the assault and withdrew to his camp, "totally perplexed". [172] 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 Greek forces, mostly Spartan, were led by Leonidas. [119] Herodotus says, at one point 4,000 Greeks died, but assuming the Phocians guarding the track were not killed during the battle (as Herodotus implies), this would be almost every Greek soldier present (by Herodotus' own estimates), and this number is probably too high. The Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC, was a battle in the second Persian invasion of Greece. [142] 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. *The battle occured because the forces of xerxes1, king of persia marched through Thrace and Macedon on their way to Greece. [75], From a strategic point of view, by defending Thermopylae, the Greeks were making the best possible use of their forces. This place is called Thermopylae by most of the Hellenes, but by the natives and their neighbors Pylae. "[58] Herodotus reports a similar comment, but attributes it to Dienekes. Free Online Library: SIMONIDES, EPHORUS, AND HERODOTUS ON THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE. 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. [131] Mardonius retreated to Boeotia to lure the Greeks into open terrain, and the two sides eventually met near the city of Plataea. Herodotus – The Histories, Book 6 – Battle of Marathon [94-140] While the Eginetans & Athenians were fighting, Darius made plans of his own. [114][123], With Thermopylae now opened to the Persian army, the continuation of the blockade at Artemisium by the Greek fleet became irrelevant. Battle. Themistocles was in command of the Greek Navy at Artemisium when he received news that the Persians had taken the pass at Thermopylae. The Battle of Thermopylae has remained a cultural icon of western civilization ever since it was fought. Scholars report various figures ranging between about 100,000 and 150,000 soldiers. The Organization of Xerxes' Army. [127], Fearing the Greeks might attack the bridges across the Hellespont and trap his army in Europe, Xerxes now retreated with much of the Persian army back to Asia,[128] though nearly all of them died of starvation and disease on the return voyage. The answer was: all the other men were participating in the Olympic Games. [7.230] Some say that Aristodemus came safe to Sparta in this manner, and on a pretext such as I have said; but others, that he had been sent as a messenger from the camp, and when he might have come up in time to find the battle going on, was not willing to do so, but stayed upon the road and so saved his life, while his fellow-messenger reached the battle and was slain. According to Herodotus[53][69] and Diodorus Siculus,[70] the Greek army included the following forces: Pausanias' account agrees with that of Herodotus (whom he probably read) except that he gives the number of Locrians, which Herodotus declined to estimate. "Sparta", the title track of power-metal band Sabaton's 2016 album "The Last Stand"), in television programs, and in video games. Under the statue, a sign reads: "In memory of the seven hundred Thespians.". It was held at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae ("The Hot Gates") in August or September 480 BC. of the men of Tegea and Mantinea a thousand, half from each place; from Orchomenos in Arcadia a hundred and twenty. For instance, Cawkwell states: "he was successful on both land and sea, and the Great Invasion began with a brilliant success. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. [52], Herodotus tells us that Leonidas, in line with the prophecy, was convinced he was going to certain death since his forces were not adequate for a victory, and so he selected only Spartans with living sons. [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. Although no obstacle to individuals, such terrain would not be passable by an army and its baggage train. [105] However, not wishing to be delayed, the Persians merely shot a volley of arrows at them, before bypassing them to continue with their encirclement of the main Greek force. Hear then now also: these men have come to fight with us for the passage, and this is it that they are preparing to do; for they have a custom which is as follows: whenever they are about to put their lives in peril, they attend to the arrangement of their hair. It has been reported that others also remained, including up to 900 helots and 400 Thebans. [78] A hoplite phalanx could block the narrow pass with ease, with no risk of being outflanked by cavalry. Although coming from a mountainous country, the Persians were not prepared for the real nature of the country they had invaded. He ex... Read More; Book 8, The Battle of Artemisium: Herodotus … There are several monuments around the battlefield of Thermopylae. https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Thermopylae-Greek-history-480-BC While many of the Greeks took him up on his offer and fled, around two thousand soldiers stayed behind to fight and die. [36] 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). The event was later recorded by Herodotus, who … [81], It is often claimed that at the time, the pass of Thermopylae consisted of a track along the shore of the Malian Gulf so narrow that only one chariot could pass through at a time. "[82], It is also said that on the southern side of the track stood cliffs that overlooked the pass. [111], However, this alone does not explain the fact that they remained; the remainder of Thespiae was successfully evacuated before the Persians arrived there. 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. With the sea on one side and steep, impassable hills on the other, King Leonidas and his men chose the perfect topographical position to battle the Persian invaders. Home » Sources » Content » Herodotus » Herodotus on Thermopylae, About Pictures Sources Countries Languages Categories Tags Thanks FAQ Donate Contact Articles Stubs. Command of the Greeks to 900 helots and 400 Thebans their arms [ 126 However. 27 ] Darius also saw the opportunity to expand his Empire into the fractious world Ancient. 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