The major cause of the battle can be traced back to the Ionian revolt. The Battle of Thermopylae also served as the inspiration for the film 300 (2006). Though the de facto leaders of the alliance, the Spartans were prohibited from engaging in military activity during these celebrations. It gives many important details that have been left out of other tellings. In short, not as much as suggested. Approaching, they had little choice but to attack the Greeks. King Xerxes. Hickman, Kennedy. Review: The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans and the Forgotten Citizen-Soldiers Who Fought with Them by in60Learning. As the Persians advanced south, capturing Athens, the remaining Greek troops began fortifying the Isthmus of Corinth with the fleet in support. The Battle of Thermopylae: Spartans v. Persians: The battle of Thermopylae was the first between the Persians and Greeks during the Persian invasion of 480-479 BC. Who Fought the Battle of Thermopylae? The Battle of Thermopylae was just one of many battles fought between the Greeks and the Persians in a conflict known as The Greco Persian Wars. While the former engaged the Persians at Artemisium, the latter assumed a defensive position at the narrow Pass of Thermopylae. Hickman, Kennedy. 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. While the Thebans ultimately surrendered, the other Greeks fought to the death. It was held at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae ("The Hot Gates") in August or September 480 BC. The battle was fought for over three days, at … Soon after the battle, the Greeks built a stone lion in honour of those who had died and specifically for the fallen king Leonidas. The 2006 film 300 told the fantastical story of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, when a handful of Spartans fought the entirety of Persia’s armies for three days. While most favored an immediate retreat, Leonidas decided to stay at the pass with his 300 Spartans. The Persian victory at Thermopylae allowed for Xerxes’ passage into southern Greece, which expanded the Persian empire even further. The Battle of Thermopylae is the most important battle of the Persian War because the sacrifice of the men at Thermopylae later fueled the Greeks to push the Persian army back out of their country. Updates? 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. Xerxes led a vast army overland from the Dardanelles, accompanied by a substantial fleet moving along the coast. The decision was made to meet the Persians at the Thermopylae pass. At Thermopylae, the Greeks blocked the pass and beat back Persian assaults for two days. Moving north with 300 men from the royal guard, Leonidas gathered additional troops en route to Thermopylae. Arriving, he elected to establish a position at the "middle gate" where the pass was the narrowest and the Phocians had previously built a wall. Having been turned back by the Greeks in 490 BC at the Battle of Marathon, the Persians elected to begin preparing a larger expedition to subjugate Greece. The side which achieves all or most of their objectives, “wins”. Ephialtes, a Greek citizen desiring reward, informed Xerxes of a path that went around Thermopylae, thus rendering the Greeks’ line useless in preventing forward advancement of the Persian army. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. While there are many theories regarding Leonidas' choice, including the idea that Spartans never retreated, it was most likely a strategic decision as a rearguard was necessary to prevent the Persian cavalry from running down the retreating army. Learning of Persian intentions, the Greek city-states began making preparations for war. This was vetoed after Alexander I of Macedon informed the group that the position could be flanked through the Sarantoporo Pass. Refusing this offer, the Greeks were then ordered to lay down their weapons. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. In 1955 a statue of Leonidas was erected by King Paul of Greece in commemoration of his and his troops’ bravery. As the Persians kept coming, Leonidas rotated units through the front to prevent fatigue. Though possessing a weak army, Athens commenced building a large fleet of triremes under the guidance of Themistocles. After three days of holding their own against the Persian king Xerxes I and his vast southward-advancing army, the Greeks were betrayed, and the Persians were able to outflank them. It has also been the site of several battles in antiquity besides this most famous one. As the morning progressed, Xerxes began another frontal assault on the pass. during the Persian Wars. What Xerxes had not anticipated was that the Greeks held the tactical advantage at Thermopylae. The Greek force was very small but was determined to make a stand against the huge Persian army. The Persians would be halted for seven days and three days of fighting would ensure between both sides. Most people know about the Battle of Thermopylae, even if they don’t recognize the name. This battle was recorded many historians, including Herodotus and Diodorus, and is even being continued to be written about in modern times through the movie “300”. The tight battlefield nullified the Persians numerical preponderance, and it also prevented them from fighting the way they had been trained. 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. They were joined by 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians, while the remainder of the army fell back. As on the first day, these efforts were turned back with heavy casualties. For two days the Greeks defended against Persian attacks and suffered light losses as they imposed heavy casualties on the Persian army. Advertisement. Attempting to make a stand, they formed on a nearby hill but were bypassed by Hydarnes. The Greeks had positioned themselves behind the rebuilt wall. A few months later, the Greeks were victorious in the naval battle of Salamis, and in 479 BC, the rest of the Persian army was defeated in the battle of Plataea. But the Persian fleet lost the Battle of Salamis, and the impetus of the invasion was blunted. Some say Xerxes had 200,000 troops, some say it was closer to 400,000. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. (Photo by Getty Images) He lost his life during the clash. The Battle of Thermopylae is believed to have been fought in August 480 BC, during the Persian Wars (499 BC-449 BC). In 279 BC the Greeks faced Brennus and his Gauls there (Paus. The great Battle of Thermopylae and the valiant fight of 300 fearless Spartans under the command of warrior King Leonidas against 10,000 elite Persian soldiers is one of … vs. Persian King Xerxes and a huge Persian army. Leonidas was a 5th century B.C. The battle was fought for over three days, at the same time as the naval Battle of Artemisium on 20 August or 8–10 September, 480 BC. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. 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