Battle of Thermopylae Facts
The Battle of Thermopylae fought in 480 BC during the Greco-Persian Wars (Persian Wars) pitted approximately 7,000 Greek soldiers led by the famous Spartan warriors
against approximately 100,000 Persian soldiers (by some estimates 150,000 or more). It is during this battle that the Greek army, facing overwhelming odds, made one of
the most famous last stands in the history of warfare. The list of facts below provide information on this great battle including the famous final stand of the brave
Greek warriors. The list below also servers as a timeline of the great battle which both kids and adults should find interesting.
Prelude to the Battle of Thermopylae
- This battle took place at the beginning of the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC. The massive army of the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece from the
with the goal of capturing all of Greece.
- Several Greek city-states, led by Sparta, joined forces to fight the Persian invaders.
- The Greeks devised a plan to block the Persian advance at a narrow pass between the mountains and the sea called Thermopylae. The Athenian general Themistocles
realized that in this location the Persians could not utilize all their warriors at once therefore limiting the overwhelming advantage they had in the number of
- A Greek coalition of about 7,000 warriors from several Greek city-states, led by Spartan King Leonidas and his 300 Spartan warriors, took a defensive position
wall at the narrow pass at Thermopylae in the summer of 480 BC. There they waited and prepared for the huge Persian force.
Battle of Thermopylae Details
- When the Persians arrived at the pass at Thermopylae the Persian king Xerxes tried to negotiate with the Greeks and offered them new land to re-settle on.
- When negotiations failed the Persian king demanded the Greek warriors hand over their weapons; the Spartan leader Leonidas replied "Come and take them".
- After the Greeks refusal to hand over their weapons the Persians waited several days before attacking the Greek warriors.
- The Persians made several unsuccessful attacks against the Greeks. Wave after wave was repelled. The longer spears of the Greek warriors were crucial in holding
the Persians as was the Greeks bravery, tactics, and defensive position (the narrow pass).
- One effective tactic used by the Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae was to fake a retreat and then turn back and attack the enemy catching them completely off
- Just when it seemed the Greek warriors were going to pull off one of the greatest upsets in the history of warfare they were betrayed. The traitor was a Greek man
named Ephialtes from the Trachis region of ancient Greece. In hopes of a rich reward he showed the Persian king a mountain path around the narrow beach area the Greeks
- When the Persians found out about the path around the Greeks defensive position they sent troops to take the path and come up behind the Greeks in the narrow
- The Spartan leader Leonidas learned of the Persian advance and what happened next is not exactly clear. It is known that most of the Greek warriors retreated. It
not clear if Leonidas commanded them to (so that they may fight another day) or if the troops retreated on their own.
- In one of the greatest demonstrations of bravery in the history of the world the remaining Spartans and other Greek Warriors fought to the last man. It is said
their weapons broke they fought with their hands and teeth. The final blow was a barrage of arrows from the Persian archers.
- Although they lost the battle the bravery of the Greek warriors in the Battle of Thermopylae inspired the Greek people and eventually helped them repel the Persian