The battle of Thermopylae is one of the most memorable battles fought during the Persian wars. The encounter took place between Greece and their allies (Thespians and Thebans) which were led by King Leonidas, and the Persian Empire led by Xerxes I. The odds were in favor of the Persians in this battle; it is estimated there were 100,000- 300,000 Persians compared to the much smaller Greek force of about 7,000. The fight took place in the coastal pass of Thermopylae and dated back to late September through early October of the year 480 (Sacks, 1976). The pass was very narrow and key in allowing the Persians to continue conquering Greece; for this reason, the Spartans picked this location to hold off the Persians. This pass in particular also suited the Greek phalanx style of fighting very well; it was difficult for the Persians to break through.
The Greeks were able to hold off the massive Persian army for seven days, but at this point the Persians learned of a small pass behind the Greeks which they used to surround them. The Greeks made one last stand on a hill behind them, but in the end, they were extinguished except for the troops Leonidas sent home. The total deaths for the Greek forces amounted to 2,000- 4,000, while the total for the Persians was roughly 20,000. Although it was a victory for the Persians, they lost many troops to the small Greek army. Xerxes was consumed in such a rage from the fighting, that upon victory he ordered his troops to cut off the head of Leonidas and have his body crucified. This was against traditional Persian policy because they highly respected valiant warriors even if it was an enemy (Kerasaradis, 2007).
(This stone was placed on the hill the Greeks made their last stand on. Inscribed upon the stone is “Stranger, announce to the Spartans that here We lie, having fulfilled their orders.” It was important because it signified that there were no warriors left to make the journey home to tell Sparta the news.)
In winning this battle, the Persians were able to continue their conquest of Greece. They continued marching toward the City of Athens, dominating small towns along the way. Also as a result of their victory at Thermopylae, it spurred their navy to continue their attack upon Greece resulting in the battle of Salamis. The previous naval battle at Artemisium ended in a draw, but that no longer mattered because the Persians had claimed victory on land.
Kerasaradis, F. (2007). The battle of thermopylae. Retrieved from http://www.battle-of-thermopylae.eu/main_aftermath.html?PHPSESSID=74890c5a0be5ebcf8548e8531dbea445
Lendering, J. (2008, August 01). Thermopylae. Retrieved from http://www.livius.org/th/thermopylae/thermopylae2.html
Sacks, K. (1976). Herodotus and the dating of the battle of thermopylae. The Classical Quarterly, 26(2), 232-248.
Slubowski, N. (2006). Thermopiles memorial epitaph. In Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Thermopiles_memorial_epitaph.jpg
One response to “The Battle of Thermopylae (aftermath)”
It is learned from ancient history that Leonidas was not the first choice to be King of Sparta, but he proved his worth. His bravery has gone into annals of Greek history. 300 men fighting millions of Persians!!! That’s unbelievable!!