After the defeat of the battle of Marathon, the Persian King Darius I was enraged and “needed to Punish Athens for its involvement in Persian affairs.” (Brosius, 23) However this was postponed for reasons such as the revolt from Egypt and Babylon, as well as the fact that Darius I died in the winter of 486 B.C. (Brosius, 23) His son, Xerxes I, was the next in line for the thrown and had to reclaim their land and to punish the Athenians for everything they have done.
Xerxes knew that to have his father’s vengeance, he had to make a greater army, greater navy and stronger warriors in order to defeat the Greeks. (Picture) The honor/shame that Xerxes had was one that had been passed down for many generations of early Persian kings was how great their power becomes during their reign. Each king had to try to succeed the other and to surpass their father, grandfather, and sometimes brother. (Brosius, 33) With Darius failing with their first invasion to Greece, Xerxes “over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion to Greece. It took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August or September 480 BC, at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae (The Hot Gates).” (Wikipedia)
When the first invasion of Greece happened in 490 BC, the Persians were brutally defeated at the Battle of Marathon. However, with Xerxes out for revenge for the second invasion, he had his mind set on destroying the Greeks. King Leonidas I, the Spartan leader and leader of the Greeks in the second invasion, underestimated the new Persian army under Xerxes. Leonidas not know that Xerxes had created an army that would not end or what they called the “Immortals” (Livius) Leonidas underestimated how many attacks and heats of people Xerxes had, and this was the element of surprise that Xerxes used against Leonidas. After the first two heats of the Persian warriors were defeated, Kind Leonidas had a problem. The honor/shame of losing the men of his army because they left, or because they were told to leave because the Athenians thought they were going to win. The honor/shame of leaving your army was not acceptable to the Greeks and especially the Spartans in the early centuries. (Kraft, 183) At Thermopylae, which is a passage in the mountains, there were only 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans and perhaps a few hundred others, the vast majority of whom were killed. (Wikipedia) It is not known if Leonidas told the rest of his army to leave or if they were cowards or over confident and went home, but this was one of the first steps of the fall of the Greek Empire. And Xerxes did a job that his own father could not do, and they wiped the Spartans and the rest of the Greeks out.
The Pass at Thermopylae, Greece.John C. Kraft, George Rapp, Jr., George J. Szemler, Christos Tziavos and Edward W. Kase