Initially planned by Emperor Darius I, the mission fell to his son Xerxes when he died in 486. As a the second day was coming to a close, a Trachinian traitor named Ephialtes arrived in Xerxes' camp and informed the Persian leader about the mountain trail around the pass. Posted February 22, 2018 by Stephanie in 4 Stars, History, in60Learning, Nonfiction, Review, The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans and the Forgotten Citizen-Soldiers Who Fought with Them / 8 Comments The Battle of Thermopylae is believed to have been fought in August 480 BC, during the Persian Wars (499 BC-449 BC). 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. King Leonidas, his 300 (or so) Spartans and their Hellenic allies fought off … While the former engaged the Persians at Artemisium, the latter assumed a defensive position at the narrow Pass of Thermopylae. His forces quickly seized northern Greece and began moving south. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our. With such cinematic details, no wonder this sensational battle inspired the blockbuster film 300. With the defeat on land, the Greek fleet withdrew south after the Battle of Artemisium. The Battle of Thermopylae is believed to have been fought in August 480 BC, during the Persian Wars (499 BC-449 BC). During the second Persian invasion of Greece, 300 Spartans fought against Xerxes I’s forces on a narrow mountain pass. Xerxes took advantage of this betrayal and sent part of his army along this path, led by Ephialtes himself. One of the most famous battles of this time period, the story of Thermopylae has been recounted in numerous books and films through the years. The Battle of Thermopylae was a Persian tactical victory, but needs to be considered in the context of the entire campaign. In the discussions, the Thessalians recommended establishing a defensive position at the Vale of Tempe to block the Persian's advance. As a previous Persian fleet had been wrecked off Mount Athos, Xerxes intended to build a canal across the mountain's isthmus. 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. Their strategy involved holding a line only a few dozen yards long between a steep hillside and the sea. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. military king of the Greek city-state of Sparta. 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. This forced Leonidas to call a war council, at which it was decided that retreating was the best option. As the Persians kept coming, Leonidas rotated units through the front to prevent fatigue. While most favored an immediate retreat, Leonidas decided to stay at the pass with his 300 Spartans. Responding, an alliance of Greek city-states, led by Athens and Sparta, assembled a fleet and an army to oppose the invaders. As the Persians advanced south, capturing Athens, the remaining Greek troops began fortifying the Isthmus of Corinth with the fleet in support. In 481, Xerxes demanded tribute from the Greeks in an effort to avoid war. …480, the Greek stand at Thermopylae in August of 480 came to naught, and the Persian land forces marched on Athens, taking and burning the Acropolis. News of this defeat reached the troops at Artemisium, and Greek forces there retreated as well. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The side which achieves all or most of their objectives, “wins”. As the morning progressed, Xerxes began another frontal assault on the pass. On the third, the Persians were able to flank the Greek position after being a shown a mountain path by a Trachinian traitor named Ephialtes. 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. Moving north with 300 men from the royal guard, Leonidas gathered additional troops en route to Thermopylae. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the Persians for three days in one of history's most famous last stands. After reaching the other side, the Persians attacked and destroyed a portion of the Greek army. Casualties for the Battle of Thermopylae are not known with any certainty, but may have been as high as 20,000 for the Persians and around 2,000-4,000 for the Greeks. In mid-August, the Persian army was sighted across the Malian Gulf. Persian Wars: Battle of Thermopylae. While the bulk of the Greek army retreated, a force of 300 Spartans led by Leonidas I as well as 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians remained to cover the withdrawal. At daybreak on the third day, the Phocians guarding the path were stunned to see the advancing Persians. In this lesson students learn about the historical background to the battle and are asked to ponder some of its legacy, including how history is reported and interpreted from different perspectives. To this Leonidas reputedly replied, "Come and get them." 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. The Spartan king Leonidas leads his army in attack during the battle of Thermopylae. It was fought over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. With war nearing, the Greek congress met again in the spring of 480. Updates? The next day, believing that the Greeks had been significantly weakened by their exertions, Xerxes attacked again. While history is not favorable to the ancient Achaemenid Persians when it comes to Greek wars, it should be noted that… It has also been the site of several battles in antiquity besides this most famous one. Where did the Battle of Marathon … But the Persian fleet lost the Battle of Salamis, and the impetus of the invasion was blunted. Review: The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans and the Forgotten Citizen-Soldiers Who Fought with Them by in60Learning. In 480 bce Xerxes invaded Greece as a continuation of Darius’s original plan. In short, not as much as suggested. No wonder this sensational Battle inspired the blockbuster film 300 prevent fatigue to reorganize themselves and a... 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