Last Stand of the 300 Isabelle The battle of Thermopylae was fought between the Greeks (Sparta and Athens) and the Persians. The Persian leader, Xerxes, wanted revenge on the Greeks for the destruction of Sardis, a Persian city, so he led the Persian army of up to 300,000 men to invade Greece (which was not known as Greece at the time, just as separate city-states). The Spartan leader, Leonidas, learned of the attack and gathered 7,000 men (only those who had fathered a son), to meet the Persians.
The Spartan Soldiers all had been trained since a very young age how to kill a man. Their society made all men when they turned 20 join the army. They were expert fighters and intelligent scholars. They’re armor was made of bronze and woods and was much better than the weapons of the Persians. Woman were also trained in combat, but not for war. Their society believed that woman should be strong so they would have strong and healthy children. If a baby was not believed to be healthy or had a physical ailment, the baby would be killed.
The Spartans were also very religious. The Oracle of Delphi was the most important shrine of Greece. Leonidas consulted the Oracle before he went into battle. The Persian Empire was very large and strong. Persian soldiers were paid by the government to be full-time soldiers. The royal Persian bodyguards, the Immortals, were very highly skilled and were called immortals because if any member fell sick or died, he was immediately replaced. The number was always at exactly 10,000. The Persians also faced many internal problems.
As the empire grew larger, it became difficult to manage. The first day of the battle is known as the Battle of Marathon. It was there that the Athens had their first victory. The 20,000 Persians that had come that day waited for the Athenians, but the Athenians were smart and they knew that attacking the Persians would be a mistake. The Persians became tired of waiting, so they decided to sailed south to attack them directly. He ordered the Persians onto the ships. He let the cavalry in the ships first.
This was a huge mistake, because the cavalry was the strongest part of the Persian army. When the cavalry were in the ships, the Persian soldiers were left defenseless. That was when the Athenian army decided to attack. The Persians were easily defeated. The second battle was fought at Thermopylae. Thermopylae was a narrow pass in the mountains that was easy to defend. The Greeks held off the Persians for two days, until a Greek traitor told Xerxes of a mountain path that would lead to the Greeks.
When Leonidas heard the Persians were coming, he sent most of his troops to safety, but he and several hundred others stayed to fight to the death. (The Thesbians also helped the Greeks, but they are mostly forgotten from history. ) The Greeks lost the battle. They had known that they would die. they bathed themselves and put olive oil in their hair to “prepare for death”. They managed to kill 2,000 Persians. They had also helped hold the Persians off for a few more days so the Athenian navy could assemble 200 ships.
After this battle, Athens was burned to the ground. The third and final battle was fought at the straight of Salamis. The Greek ships were faster, smaller, and easier to steer than the big Persian ships. They destroyed almost the entire Persian fleet to avenge the city of Athens. The Greeks lost the battle, but weakened the Persians considerably. The Persian Empire eventually fell. But Greeks now knew they could now fight as one and had a sense of nationality. Even today, there is evidence that the battle of Thermopylae has made us better and more unified nations.