King Leonidas

By Warren Jin

Introduction-----Leonidas and phalanxes
Born in 530 B.C. and killed heroically in the Battle of Thermopylae, King Leonidas of Sparta was a great Greek general who led his 300 soldiers in the war against the Persians in the Second Persian War. He was born to the Spartan king Anaxandrides and trained to be a hoplite. Hoplites were part of a phalanx, and phalanxes are vulnerable when attacked from the side or back because it is hard to maneuver. Also, they are not so good on hills or rough and bumpy ground, like at the site of the Battle of Thermopylae.
Xerxes and the Attack
**Xerxes**, the Persian king, had planned to continue his father’s plan to take over Greece. He decided that he would take a land route along the eastern coast of Greece, and parallel to his direction would be his navy. His plan was to march on Athens, the Greek capital, but the pass of Thermopylae blocked him. His army then had turn into a line to get pass Thermopylae.
As in Herodotus 7.176, “The pass through Trachis into Hellas is 50 feet wide at its narrowest point. It is not here, however, but elsewhere that the way is narrowest, namely, in front of Thermopylae and behind it; at Alpeni, which lies behind, it is only the breadth of a cart-way, and it is the same at the Phoenix stream, near the town of Anthele. To the west of Thermopylae rises a high mountain, inaccessible and precipitous, a spur of Oeta; to the east of the road there is nothing but marshes and sea.”
That was what Leonidas wanted-----to have the Persian army in a line. He held the massive Persian army off until a local, who knew a way around the pass of Thermopylae, betrayed Greece. Leonidas was surrounded. Priests prayed to Hercules. Leonidas soon learned of the treachery, and sent most of his men away. Leonidas’ most loyal troops-----the Spartans, Thespians, and Thebans-----remained to die for their country. In the end, both sides suffered heavy losses-----in the Greeks’ case, all the valiant fighting men had died. Both of Xerxes’ brothers died, but Xerxes had not participated in this gruesome event.

Fun facts!
  • After the war, the Persians found the dead Leonidas and cut off his head-----a sign of major disrespect.
  • Also, there were two other wars at the pass of Thermopylae in ancient history and one was a successful defense and the other was not.

Works Cited
“Battle of Thermopylae: Leonidas the Hero”. Weider History, 12 Jun. 2006. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <>.

“LEONIDAS”. History., NF. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Leonidas, the King of Sparta”. Greeka, NF. Web. 03 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Leonidas the Spartan”. Racial Nationalist Library. Fourteen Word Press, NF. Web. 04 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Thermopylae”. NF. NF, NF. Web. 04 Dec. 2014. <>.

“A Statue of King Leonidas”. Wikinut. NF, NF. Web Image. ©. 09 Dec. 2014. <>