Thermopylae fought today in 480 BC.
The 3 day battle of Thermopylae began today, the 20th August, in 480 BC.
The Persians, under their King Xerxes, had brought an army of perhaps 200000 to Greece to subjugate it and avenge the humiliation of Darius’ earlier invasion and defeat at Marathon.
An emergency advance force of 7000 Hoplite Infantry from several of the City States was sent to block their advance. It was led by the Spartan King Leonidas. The point chosen was the narrow mountain pass known as Thermopylae, or the ‘hot gates’.
It was to be one of history’s greatest defences.
The first assault was by some 10000 Medes and Cissians and followed a useless archery barrage. It was easily repulsed in the compact confines of the 50ft narrow pass. The attackers were armed with short spears and light armour, unlike the Hoplites who had a longer spear and heavy armour. A second assault by his best Infantry, The Immortals, was also repulsed today.
The pass fell on the third day, after an act of treachery, by a Greek named Ephialtes. On learning that the Persians were outflanking them, Leonidas sent all but 2000 men back to their respective States and stayed in the pass to die with the remainder.
Xerxes was defeated on the 20th September at the sea battle of Salamis and all idea of conquest was extinguished. Greece survived and flourished.
In an impressive demonstration of coolness under pressure, the Spartans at Themopylae delivered one of the greatest come-back lines of all time. When the Persians boasted that “Our arrows will blacken the sun” one of the Spartans – I think it was Leonidas – replied, “Then we will fight in the shade.”
I wondered whether or not to include that line, so thank you Marc.
I read it was one of his soldiers though.
Immortals, named for being elite.
Not because of an individual being immortal ,NO because their strength was allways 10.000 men.
No need to put their name to the test!!… 8-)
Nice post Wittmann, enjoyed reading it.
Thank you Aequitas.
Did not know about the strength always being 10000.