7 Summary of Battle of Thermopylae

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The Battle of Thermopylae was one of the battles in the Greco-Persian Wars.

It was fought between the Spartan-centered Greek army and the Achaemenid Empire expeditionary force at a place called Thermopylae.

Incidentally, Herodotus' "Histories" describes this war in detail.

Summary of 5 ideas from the contents of Herodotus' book "Histories"

If you are interested, please also read this article.

The Greeks had the upper hand in this battle, even though the Persian forces were overwhelmingly stronger.

However, the Greeks were ultimately defeated when they were forced to go around the back.

In this, the Spartan army in particular fought until they were annihilated.

As an achievement, they held off the Persian army for three days, killing two brothers of the king of Achaemenid Empire in the process.

It is said that this result was due to the fact that the Spartan army was as follows.

  • Bravery
  • Skilled in the use of the terrain

So what was the Battle of Thermopylae all about?

Causes of the Battle of Thermopylae

The Greco-Persian Wars began with Darius the Great, king of Achaemenid Empire.

To learn more about the Greco-Persian Wars,

Please read this article first.

Background of the Battle of Thermopylae

Due to the Persian invasion,

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To fight or to join Achaemenid Empire...hmmm...

While the Greek polis (city-states) were suffering like this, the Persian expeditionary force invaded a part of Greece.

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This is not good! Let's fight together, city-states!

The polis decided to fight together.

The Greek army was thus formed.

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The time has come to go to war!

It was at this time that Alexander I of Macedonia was informed about the Persian army.

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The Persian army is really bad! Too big, seriously...

Although he was following the Achaemenid Empire, he was a hardcore anti-Persian.

Perhaps due in part to the credibility of his words, the Greek army held another meeting while retreating.

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Don't be frightened... Let's intercept them after all!

They finally decided to intercept the Persian army in a land called Thermopylae.

The timing coincides with the Olympics

Thermopylae was strategically very important in defending other Greek regions.

But just as the Greeks were deciding on the battle of Thermopylae, the following festival was being held in the Greek region.

  • Sparta: Festival of Carneia
  • Olympia: Festival of Olympia (the festival that gave rise to today's Olympics)

So they could not provide enough troops and could only send a small number of troops.

To learn more about the history of such Ancient Olympics,

What is the Ancient Olympics?

See also this article.

The Appearance of King Leonidas of Sparta

Leonidas, king of Sparta, appears at the Battle of Thermopylae.

King Leonidas' battles are now legendary as heroes!

There is an article written about the activities of "Leonidas I" who fought such the manly battle.

The Legend of King Leonidas!

Please read this article as well, if you like.

Was Xerxes Ⅰ unexpected? !

The Greeks were very motivated in the Battle of Thermopylae.

On the other hand, Xerxes I, king of Achaemenid Empire, said that

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Greek army, I give you four days to retreat.

And he waited for the Greek army to retreat.

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The Greeks would surrender by all means after seeing the difference in their military strength.

He did not expect that there would be a battle.

However, even on the fifth day, there was no sign of retreat.

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Oh, seriously...? There are more than 2 million men in the army...? Do you really think you can win?

While Xerxes I thought so, he finally started attacking the Greek army.

Was it treachery that won the battle?

The advantage for the Greeks was the narrow roads of Thermopylae.

Because of this narrowness, the cavalry, the pride of the Persian army, could not play an active role.

The Achaemenid Empire suffered a large number of casualties, while the Greeks suffered few losses.

The reasons for this are as follows.

  • The Spartan army's heavily armed infantry (heavily armed defense)
  • Invincible tactics that took advantage of the narrow terrain

For these reasons, the Greeks were able to push back the overwhelmingly strong Persian army.

The Persian army's losses continued to mount, and there was no way to defeat the Greeks.

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There is a back road to Thermopylae over here.

At such a time, the Persian army would learn of its back roads due to a traitorous Greek local who had joined the Persian side.

And from that back road, they tried to go behind the Greeks to defeat them.

When the Greeks saw this action of the Persian army,

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This is no good...we're going to get hit. So, retreat!

And almost all of them retreated.

Leaving the Spartans and the few remaining soldiers.

The battle is described in detail in the article about King Leonidas, so I will omit it here.

Just to conclude, the remaining Greek army is annihilated except for the Thebais soldiers.

On the other hand, the Persian army is said to have lost 20,000 men killed in the battle.

After the Battle of Thermopylae

King Leonidas and the Spartans were honored as heroes after the Battle of Thermopylae.

A monument to them was also erected, which is a famous tourist attraction.

After the Persian army broke through Thermopylae, they burned all the polis they passed through.

Furthermore, the Persian army occupied the polis where a small number of citizens remained.

But thanks to King Leonidas and the Spartans who bought them some time,

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All right, we are ready for the naval battle of Salamis...!

Then, the Greeks were able to win a great victory over the Persians in the decisive battle at sea.

To learn more about the "Battle of Salamis",

Please also read this article.

Also, Pausanias, a Spartan royal who was not sure whether to participate in the battle of Plataea,

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Avenge Leonidas.

He heard this divine sign.

And to avenge the death of King Leonidas,

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I will fight against the entire Persian army...!

He made up his mind to do so.

As a result, 10,000 Spartan infantrymen miraculously defeated the entire Persian army of 300,000.

If you would like to know more about the "Battle of Plataea",

What is the Battle of Plataea? Four reasons for the victory of the Spartan army alone

Please also read this article.

Thus, King Leonidas' revenge was fulfilled with his victory at the Battle of Plataea.

There is much more to the history of Mesopotamian civilization.

To learn more about the history of Mesopotamian civilization,

What is the Mesopotamian Civilization? I explain in detail what kind of civilization it is!

Please also read this article.

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