The Battle of Thermopylae

By: Geoffrey Chen

The Battle of Thermopylae began in 480 BC during the Greco-Persian Wars. The battle was between the Greek city-states and the Persian army. The Persian army was estimated to have from 70,000 to 300,000 soldiers. The Greeks, however, were greatly outnumbered by only about 5,200 to 11,200. Although they were a much smaller force, they were determined to not surrender without a fight.
The battle began when Xerxes I, the king of Persia, marched his army through Macedoniaand Thrace on their way to Greece. The Greeks later found out about this and were quite shocked.Unfortunately, as the Persians were traveling to Greece, the Spartans were having
battle of thermopylae.jpg
Troops fighting near Thermopylae: Greece v.s. Persia
a festival called Carnei, in which no battles are allowed to take place. As an immediate urgency, the Spartans decided it was best to still go into battle. The city-states realized that as an individual army, they would stand no chance. As a result of this the city-states all met up in a conference. They decided it was best to defend Thermopylae, a narrow pass between the mountains and the sea. If they could manage to block the Persians for a long enough time, their combined fleets would be able to draw the battle into a decisive naval battle. Sparta, with their reputation of fierceness, was to be the one leading the army. Their chosen leader, Leonidas, led the fleet to Thermopylae and waited at the pass, getting ready to battle.
Once the Persians arrived at the pass, several days went by and battle had still not started. Xerxes sent a scout to go spy on the Greek army, and as he came back Xerxes was amazed at what he heard. There was about 7,000 soldiers, and in front blocking the pass were around 300 Spartans combing their hair and excersising. What the king did not know was that it was a Spartan custom to adorn their hair when about to risk their lives. Xerxes found the report laughable, but he was to not misunderstand this message. Spartans were men of bravery who were willling to fight to the death.
As time went on, the Persians decided it was time. Although the Persians had a much larger army, they were not able to make use of this because of the narrow pass. The Greeks, however, had long spears which they used to their advantage. The Spartans had a clever stragety, they would pretend to retreat. As they ran away, the Persians would chase them. As they’re being chased, they suddenly turn around and kill many in the confusion. With their long spears and strong soldiers, the Greeks were able to hold them back for two days.
Finally, as the Persians were starting to lose hope, a Greek traitor came and told about a secret path that was only known to locals. Once the king found out about this, he immediately commanded his best soldiers to take the secret path. On the third day of battle, the Persian troops sprung up on the Greeks. There were 1,000 Phocians guarding the path all sent by Leonidas. The Greeks were surprised to see the Persians advancing on them, but this was no time to be awed. As the first warning came the Persians were amazed to see the Greeks hastily arming themselves. Knowing that there was no way to win this battle, Leonidas sent most of the other troops back to protect their city. As the Persians proceded, they fired what seemed to be a shower of arrows. The left over troops fought until their weapons broke. After that they consulted to using their bare fists and teeth. Leonidas died in one of these battles, and the Greeks and Persians fought over his dead body. The Persians eventually managed to pulled it away, and by then most of the citizens had fled to other places.
Leonidas and the remaining brave troops had been killed. The Persians marched over to the city-states and took over. The battle was over, and the Persians had won, but even so, the Spartans and others were men of bravery and showed great courage. Many look back at this battle and amazed at what skill the Greeks showed.

Works Cited

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