There was considerable debate in Sparta in the weeks leading up to the Persian attack about how best to defend Greece. Many cities on the Peloponnese wanted to withdraw behind the Isthmus of Corinth, whereas cities in Attica and Boeotia of course, wanted to make a stand much further north. Sparta, as leader of the united Greek forces, made the decision to make a stand at Thermopylae, a narrow pass between the mountains and the Aegean Sea in Thessaly. Leonidas called for 300 picked Spartans, to lead a combined Greek force of 7000 men. At the pass, the Spartans held off Xerxes forces, which were said to be over a million strong, for three days, killing thousands, alarming the Persian troops, and preventing any forward progress. Eventually a traitor showed the Persians an alternate route through the mountains and the Greek forces were surrounded. At this point, Leonidas dismissed all of the rest of the army save his 300 Spartans, and 400 Thespians, who refused to leave. With this small force he fought on, killing as many Persians as possible until his entire army perished in the effort.
There have been few military victories in the history of mankind as shrouded in glory as the defeat of Leonidas at the pass of Thermopylae.
|Succeeded to the Agiad Throne of Sparta, on the death of Cleomenes I.
|Sent with 300 picked Spartans, to lead 7000 Greek troops against the Persians at Thermopylae.
|Battle of Thermopylae in
|Xerxes by Jacob Abbott
|Brave Three Hundred in
|Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin
|Three Hundred in
|Pictures from Greek Life and Story by Alfred J. Church
|Lion King in
|Helmet and Spear by Alfred J. Church
|Of the Battle of Thermopylae in
|The Story of the Persian War by Alfred J. Church
|Leonidas at Thermopylae in
|The Story of the Greeks by H. A. Guerber
|Leonidas at Thermopylae in
|Famous Men of Greece by John H. Haaren and A. B. Poland
|How the Spartans Fought at Thermopylae in
|Greek Gods, Heroes, and Men by Caroline H. and Samuel B. Harding
|The Bravest Men of All Hellas in
|The Story of Greece by Mary Macgregor
|How the Spartans Died at Thermopylae in
|Historical Tales: Greek by Charles Morris
|The Brave Three Hundred in
|Stories of the Ancient Greeks by Charles D. Shaw
|How Leonidas Kept the Pass in
|On the Shores of the Great Sea by M. B. Synge
|Great Persian Invasion (cont.) in
|The Story of the Greek People by Eva March Tappan
The Defence of Thermopylae
in Greatest Nations - Greece
in Stories from Greek History
Leonidas at Thermopylae
in The Story of the Greek People
|Greek traitor who showed Xerxes a way around the pass of Thermopylae.
|Raised an enormous army for Persian invasion of Greece. Defeated at Battle of Salamis.
|Spartan General who led Greece against Mardonius at the Battle of Plataea.
|Head of Spartan Fleet during the Persian War.
|Son of Hydarnes, satrap of Media. Leader of the Persian Immortals. Fought at Thermopylae.
|Daughter of Cleomenes I, wife of Leonidas.
|Volunteered to sacrifice their lives to the Persian King to expiate the murder of Ambassadors.
|Exiled King of Sparta, advisor to Xerxes during his invasion of Greece.
|Greek lyric poet. Wrote a famous epitaph honoring fallen Spartans at Thermopylae.,