The Last Stand of the 300 Spartans 1


The History Channel Documentary

The battle of Thermopylae was the first between the Persians and Greeks during the Persian invasion of 480-479 BC. The Greek force was very small but was determined to make a stand against the huge Persian army. Sparta would lead the Greek army, as her reputation in war was unmatched by any other Greek state.

The Greeks had chosen to defend a narrow pass, or gap, between the mountains of central Greece and the sea, called Thermopylae. This pass was part of the route into Greece from the north. Here the Greek force now waited, made up of only 300 Spartans under their king, Leonidas, and about 6000 soldiers from other Greek cities. They faced a Persian army of perhaps 100,000 men.

At the height of the Greek/Persian War, Xerxes, King of Persia, led the largest army ever assembled into Greece with the intention of conquering the whole country. In response, King Leonidas of Sparta rallied just 300 Spartan warriors to join a few thousand other Greek troops. This force lay in wait in the pass at Thermopylae to delay the might of the Persian Army, estimated at over a million men.

They seemed impossible odds – yet the Spartans and their allies held the narrow pass for seven days in August 480 BC, inflicting shocking casualties on the Persians and fighting until every last defender was slain.

After Custer, Thermopylae is the most famous last stand in history. It is still used today by military academies around the world as an example of how a group of well trained and well led soldiers can have an impact out of all proportion to their numbers.


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