The Battle of Thermopylae



Thermopylae Pass is located in eastern central Greece as the key land route large between Lokris and Thessaly. Passage from north to south along the eastern coast of the Balkan Peninsula requires use of this pass. Historians tells us that this area was so narrow that only one chariot could pass through it at a time. 

It was within these narrow confines that a small force of Greek soldiers – including the 300 Spartan warriors led by King Leonidas – fought the 300,000-member Persian army of Xerxes I. Positioning themselves between two narrow cliff faces at Thermoplyae, these Greeks fought valiantly for three days in September450 BC, holding the largest military force ever assembled to a standstill. When warned that the archers of Xerxes’s army would “blot out the sun” with their arrows in their slaughter of the Greeks, one of the 300 famously responded “Then we shall fight in the shade.” 

All 300 Spartans died in the Battle of Thermopylae. However, King Leonidas achieved his objectives of delaying Xerxes I’s advance into Greece by showing the unrelenting fighting spirit that Xerxes I would encounter in any incursion into Greece. The sacrifices made by the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae ultimately united all of Greece in the common goal of defeating Persian imperialism. In this sense, the Battle of Thermopylae has long been revered by military historians as an example of the tactical advantages inherent in deploying a smaller, better-trained and fiercely committed fighting force against vastly superior numbers of less motivated troops.

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