Friday, March 14, 2014

History mystery: The Battle of Thermopylae

The Battle of Thermopylae 1
As we go back to the ancient history on the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC which was fought between Persian Empire of Xerxes I and Greek city states by King Leonidas of Sparta we get to know more on what took place many years ago. The Persian army under Xerxes I moved southward through Greece on the eastern coast parallel to the shore, along with the Persian navy. In order to reach the destination at Attica, which was controlled by the city state of Athens, the Persians had to go through the coastal pass at Thermopylae or better known as Hot Gates due to its nearby sulfur springs which were located there. The pass of Thermopylae comprising of a track along the shore of the Malian Gulf seemed to be so narrow which permitted only a chariot to pass through while on the southern side stood the cliffs which overlooked the pass. Towards the north was the Malian Gulf while along the path stood a series of three constrictions or gates and at the centre gate, a wall probably erected by the Phocians in the earlier century, to defend against the invasion of the Thessalian.

Leonidas led his army of 6,000 to 7,000 Greeks from various city states, in the late summer of 480 BC, including 300 Spartans in order to prevent the Persians from going through Thermopylae. With the expectation that the narrow pass would block the Persian army towards his own force, Leonidas established his army at Thermopylae and for two days, the Greeks withstood the attack against their outnumbered opponents. At first, Leonidas, plans worked well for him, since he was unaware that there was another route over the mountains to the west of Thermopylae which the enemies could use to bypass his fortified position along the coast. This was known to Xerxes through a local Greek which helped the army to cross it thereby enabling them to surround the Greeks where most of the Greek force, choose to withdraw rather than face the Persian army.

The Battle of Thermopylae 3
With an army of Thespians, Thebans and Spartans remained to fight the Persian, Leonidas along with the 300 Spartans were all killed while the others remained as allies. The Persian fought and beheaded Leonidas, an act considered being a grave insult. Leonidas on his part received lasting fame for his personal sacrifice where hero cults were an established customs from the eighth century BC in ancient Greece. Dead heroes were worshiped and given high honor near their burial place. After the battle, forty years later, the Spartans retrieved Leonidas’s remain and built a shrine in his honor.

Ancient and modern writers consider the Battle of Thermopylae a source of power of a patriotic army striving to defend their land, where the defenders have portrayed courage against various odd faced by them. Divulging in the history mystery on various incidents in ancient times throws some insight on the people living in the ancient world. Elixir of knowledge provides interesting information on ancient living and the people belonging to those ancient times.

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