History

Battle of Thermopylae

Of the great battles that have arisen over time, we can mention one of the most famous fights, the Thermopylae Battle, occurred during the Second Medical War, in which there was an alliance of the Greek polis which were led by Sparta (land media) and Athens (marine media). These two important groups decided to unite in order to stop the Persian Empire's invasion of Xerxes I. The battle lasted seven days, three of which were days of fighting. The location where the battle took place was Thermopylae or Hot Gates, the exact date is not known for sure, but it is said to have taken place in August or September 480 BC.

Battle of Thermopylae
  • Where: Thermopylae, Greece
  • When: 480 B.C.
  • Main cause: Trying to invade Greece through the Thermopylae pass.
  • Who conquered: The Achaemenid Empire

What was the Battle of Thermopylae?

Battle that occurred approximately 2,500 years ago which lasted only 7 days, of which 3 days were confrontations. The Battle of Thermopylae took place during the Second Medical War, when the Greek polis led by Sparta and Athens decided to unite to confront the Persian Empire invasion of Xerxes I.

Who fought against each other during the Battle of Thermopylae?

In Thermopylae Battle, two large groups confronted each other in order to repel the invasion that the Persian Empire of Xerxes I wanted to impose on Greece. The first group was Sparta by land; the second important group was Athens by sea. The Greeks were in charge of stopping the Persian advance, placing their troops in the narrowest part of the gorge. To counteract this invasion, Themistocles, general of Athens, proposed an idea, that the allies of Greece should be in charge of blocking the Persian army’s advances through Thermopylae, and stopping the Persian army in the Strait known as Artemisius.

Backgrounds

We must begin by mentioning the Persian king Darius the Great, who died four years after the Marathon battle, and could not punish the Greeks as he wanted. His main objective was to enter Greece, conquer all of Europe and more. This is why he ordered new taxes to unite and create an enormous army, the largest in history, but while preparing for it, he was surprised by the disease and died.

All Spartan society was focused on forming soldiers trained and prepared to follow orders firmly, even to die if they had to. The women of the time had the purpose of having children to form soldiers.

Summary of the Battle of Thermopylae

Xerxes received information about the possible Spartan invasion but did not worry. He waited four days and then ordered the attack on the fifth day. For their part, Greeks built a great wall of spears and shields around Thermopylae. The Persians could not pass the wall and Xerxes was not happy with the result. He thought then, that the attack would be better during the night. On the second day of fighting, the Persians were killed just like on the first day, and Xerxes then asked his warrior commands to attack, hoping in this way to win. The fighting was massive, and the Greeks were decreasing their army more and more in number. Sparta’s soldiers were excellent soldiers, who had been trained since childhood and who were willing to give their lives for Sparta. After a time of fighting, Leonidas the king of Sparta was murdered. The men of Sparta protected his body and when they ran out of spears, they continued fighting with swords, when the swords were finished, they fought with their hands and teeth until the last of the soldiers of Sparta was finished.

Consequences

The Greeks caused a powerful impact on the enemy troops, killing Xerxes’ brothers and causing the Persians to lose all types of invasion force, so that during some battles that took place after this, the Persians were eliminated very easily ending this way with the Persian invasions.

Importance

Thermopylae Battle is an icon in Western culture, appearing in numerous writings, poems, songs, stories, films and television. Its didactic use is innumerable as it appears constantly in educational articles. After the battle, Spartan culture has become an object of inspiration and emulation worldwide, creating several monuments in support of the battle.

Heroes of the Battle of Thermopylae

The hero of the battle was undoubtedly the Sparta general, Leonidas, who was responsible for defending the passage of Thermopylae until the end. With only 300 Spartan men, who kept him company to defend his land against the Persian army, who were thousands of men. He helped to give more time to the Spartan troops to face the Persians.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.
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