Leonidas (c. 530-480 B.C.) Oxford: Osprey. 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”). Map of Thermopylae area with modern shoreline and reconstructed shoreline of 480 BC Perhaps at this point the Theban contingent may have surrendered (although this is disputed amongst scholars). Stripped of its helmet, Leonidas’ head is framed by his long hair. Please let us know via the … Advertisement. The long path to battle at Thermopylae began in what is now Iran, heart of the once vast Persian empire. Leonidas, one of the Spartan kings at the time (Sparta always had two), led the Greeks, whereas the Persians were led by their emporer Xerxes, as well as his main general, Mardonius. 14. 3 days. The Battle on the plain of Marathon in September 490 BCE between... Leonidas was the Spartan king who famously led a small band of... Sparta was one of the most important Greek city-states throughout... Xerxes I (l. 519-465, r. 486-465 BCE), also known as Xerxes... One of the most effective and enduring military formations in ancient... A black-figure Calyx-Krater from Attica, c. 530 BCE. While the Spartan-led Greeks lost at Thermopylae, their decision to stand together against enormous odds strengthened an otherwise shaky coalition. Why was Thermopylae a good location for the Greeks to make a stand? Perhaps better known today as “that battle from the movie 300,” the Battle of Thermopylae was an epic, three-day face-off between a small group of Greek soldiers and the massive Persian Army in 480 B.C. However, as the majority of the Greek army retreated, Leonidas, his 300 bodyguards, some helots (people enslaved by the Spartans), and 1,100 Boeotians remained behind, supposedly because retreating would defy Spartan law and custom. The Persians maintained a splendi… Many Greek city-states either joined Xerxes or remained neutral, while Athens and Sparta led the resistance with a number of other city-states behind them. When defending a narrow pass like the one at Thermopylae a phalanx was basically impenetrable to any attacks, the long spears deterring the attackers from advancing. Did any Spartans survive Thermopylae? Only King Leonidas, his 300 Spartans, and 700 Thespians remained to resist the Persians while the rest of the Greek army could retreat. Herodotus, the father of History, or father of Lies depending on who you ask, estimated Persian casualties to 20,000. However, on the second night a Greek traitor guided the best Persian troops around the pass behind the Greek army. Xerxes, who had by then been away…, …Persians attacked the Greeks at Thermopylae for two days but suffered heavy losses. The Battle of Thermopylae was one of many battles fought between the Greeks and the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars, which took place between c. 499 BCE and c. 450 BCE. 20. The relatively small size of the defending force has been explained as a reluctance by some Greek city-states to commit troops so far north, and/or due to religious motives, for it was the period of the sacred games at Olympia and the most important Spartan religious festival, the Karneia, and no fighting was permitted during these events. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. As a result, the full Spartan army could not advance towards Thermopylae. Thermopylae (480 BC) was the first land battle of the second Persian War. 3 days. Their strategy involved holding a line only a few dozen yards long between a steep hillside and the sea. The distraction gave enough time for the rest of the Greek army to retreat into southern Greece. They decided to retreat, but Leonidas would stay with 300 other Spartans to hold the pass long enough to make an organized retreat. How Did The Battle of Thermopylae Happen King Xerxes, son of Darius, ascended to the throne of Persia after his father's death in 486 BC. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 16 Apr 2013. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Kathleen Lohnes was an editorial intern at Encyclopaedia Britannica in 2017 and 2018. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. A glorious defeat maybe, but the fact remained that the way was now clear for Xerxes to push on into mainland Greece. The Persian forces also included the Immortals, an elite force of 10,000 who were probably better protected with armour and armed with spears. Battle of Thermopylae. 313. In 486 BCE, Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE) became king upon the death of Darius and massive preparations for invasion were made. Xerxes led a vast army overland from the Dardanelles, accompanied by a substantial fleet moving along the coast. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. After that, Xerxes sent a force of 10,000 Medes and Cissiansto take the defenders prisoner and b… "Battle of Thermopylae." Although the Persians had enjoyed the upper hand in previous contests during the recent Ionian revolt, the terrain at Thermopylae would better suit Greek warfare. Early in the morning, the hoplites once more met the enemy, but this time Xerxes could attack from both front and rear and planned to do so but, in the event, the Immortals behind the Greeks were late on arrival. Hornblower, Simon & Spawforth, Antony & Eidinow, Esther. … 19. His comrades then fought fiercely to recover the body of the fallen king. Persian army. Type: noun; a famous battle in 480 BC; a Greek army under Leonidas was annihilated by the Persians who were trying to conquer Greece stemming. How did the wounded greeks last so long at the battle of thermopylae? Related Content The Battle of Thermopylae lasted for a little over 3 days, with Leonidas I, the main commander, falling on the final day. Indeed, Spartan indifference is epitomised by Dieneces, who, when told that the Persian arrows would be so dense as to darken the sun, replied that in that case the Spartans would have the pleasure of fighting in the shade. In that context, the Greeks were more than victorious. Well known to a fact that this is where the Spartan 300 last stand, but the modern historical/theoretic aspect did not do justice to the other that stand and died on that Pass. Thermopylae, ruins of old fortifications on the Kolonos hill where the Greeks made their last stand, at the famous Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC. The battle for the West : Thermopylae. 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