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Old November 12th, 2012, 05:49 PM   #21
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Still there are many things I do not understand. Herodotus's account gives an impression that land battles were important, yet all important battles or events happened at sea. In fact, the Persian army stood in Greece for the whole year and the only land decisive battle was fought in 479 BC. Also, if getting into mainland Greece and, further, Peloponessus, was so important for the Persians, why did not they follow the advise of Demaratos (to sail around Greece, disembark at Gythaeum in Laconia, and attack Sparta?). This strategy would have been deadly for the Greeks. And the Persians had enough ships for it.
The story from Herodotos and essentially any other currently available source is fundamentally from an Athenocentric standpoint.

It was only natural that any epic narrative from a naval power would have tended to emphasize the relevance of sea over land warfare.

In practice both the victory at land & at sea were required to stop the Persian menace.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 06:04 PM   #22

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Most of such forces (e.g. central Hellenes like the Thebans & Locrians) didn't "regroup" but actually sided with the Persians.
This ofc was what I would expect to happen if the Persians were allowed free reign across Greech, unmolested.

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The bulk of the Peloponnesian forces remained on the other side of the Isthmus Wall from the beginning, exactly where Leonidas should have driven his forces so futilely wasted once it became clear that the Thessalians had defected.
I dont think it is quite so simple. The Locrians and Phocians, who were alied states had their lands nearby and were against a complete withdrawal.

The dual plan to fight Artimisium and Thermopylae was suggested by Thermistocles, in order to stop a quick advance of the Persians, whilst they were evacuating and regrouping their forces. Tha full Spartan force could not go because they were celebrating the Carnea, and they missed at on the battle of Marathon because of this.

The role Leonidas played at the end, when he stayed behind, was to stop the Persians destroying the bulk of the escaping Greek forces, from the battle.

Btw, in terms of the Thessalians, im sure there was a similar plan to Thermopylae, that they suggested earlier, fighting in the valley of Tempe iirc?



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In practice both the victory at land & at sea were required to stop the Persian menace.
This, I absolutely agree with.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 06:54 PM   #23
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This ofc was what I would expect to happen if the Persians were allowed free reign across Greech, unmolested.



I dont think it is quite so simple. The Locrians and Phocians, who were alied states had their lands nearby and were against a complete withdrawal.

The dual plan to fight Artimisium and Thermopylae was suggested by Thermistocles, in order to stop a quick advance of the Persians, whilst they were evacuating and regrouping their forces. Tha full Spartan force could not go because they were celebrating the Carnea, and they missed at on the battle of Marathon because of this.

The role Leonidas played at the end, when he stayed behind, was to stop the Persians destroying the bulk of the escaping Greek forces, from the battle.

Btw, in terms of the Thessalians, im sure there was a similar plan to Thermopylae, that they suggested earlier, fighting in the valley of Tempe iirc?





This, I absolutely agree with.
Indeed; on Leonidas' obvious major blunder after the Thessalian defection (irrespectively on any previous planning), it seems we don't.

Themistokles was naturally worried for his own homeland Athens on the unsafe side (NE) of the Isthmus, not necessarily so much of Leonidas' own homeland Sparta and her allies on the other side of the Isthmus Wall.

And no, no force "regrouped"; it was a most futile stand.

Again, it was just a waste of valuable and urgently required men & material; easy as that.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 10:03 AM   #24

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well it is said"We Spartains are decedents from Heracles" so it could have been a sacrifice to Heracles
If I remember correctly, only the Spartan Kings considered themselves "Heraclidae". When Spartan king Kleomenes I marched to Athens to help Athenians against Peisistratidae, he ended up in Acropolis, and the priestess of Athena did not allow him to enter the temple of Athena, saying that only Achaeans were allowed in. He said that he was an Achaean and entered the temple. Kleomenes was alluding to his relationship with Achaean Heracles.

(Interesting perception of "ethnicity" by the ancients. Heracles, technically, was not an Achaean, but the son of a god on one side, and also had close ties to Africa on both maternal lines. Myths mention his dark-skin. The Dorians were a Northern tribe. But an "Achaean" descendancy could be politically useful. Kleomenes was stating that he was an Achaean shortly at the time of Peloponnessian treaty, politically tying up all Dorian cities on Peloponnnessus to Sparta. The only city not to join the league was Argos, once Achaean stronghold. I wonder what political combination Kleomenes initially had in mind when he helped Athens and stated being an Achaean. He was brilliant). Sorry for digressing from the 300, which might be the least important episode in Spartan history, but ironically, became its most glorious past.

But coming back to your post - I can not imagine the Spartans sacrificing 300 of their own to Heracles. Even Orteia did not demand human sacrifices at that time, just some blood on her altar. If anything, killing a human in a sacred place, a temple or a god's grove, was considered a huge sacrilege, punishable by gods.

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Old November 14th, 2012, 11:18 AM   #25

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Most of such forces (e.g. central Hellenes like the Thebans & Locrians) didn't "regroup" but actually sided with the Persians.

The bulk of the Peloponnesian forces remained on the other side of the Isthmus Wall from the beginning, exactly where Leonidas should have driven his forces so futilely wasted once it became clear that the Thessalians had defected.
First of all - Sylla1 - I am really sorry if my posts my be a repeat of some prior discussions. You "have been there", I am new, and not used to the format of this forum. I can not even combine multiple quotes in one answer, the system constantly "kicks me out". I am not on too many forums. I shall learn ). I tried to find some old threads here, but the only one I saw was about the 300.

Some cities "Medized" out of necessity, they were the first on the Persians' way. On the Peloponnessus, only Argos openly did so. In general, the Greeks did not have the perception of the "nation", but the "tribal" ties were strong, hence Athens support of Ionic Greeks ten years earlier, or the Peloponnessisan states not Medizing after Sparta decided to fight. Mainland Greece was poor, and Persian taxes would have been difficult for the Greeks to pay. Policitally it made no sense to Medize, although wealthy aristocracy of some polices held Persian hand.

Thermopylai was the fastest, but not the only way for a large army to get into Central Greece, and the bypass routes were well-known (IMO the "betrayal" story lacks credence). (Geographically, the Isthmus was "the only" land way in Greece, nothing else).

Not all mountaineers living around the Thermopylai Medized. Perhaps, none. Simply, the Persian army was consuming food, but they also brought some of their own, and they were not burning crops, leaving something for the next year. Leonidas, on the other hand, was using scorched land strategy, to prevent Persians from fast advance. Leaving nothing for the locals. This, as well as recruitment of people for his army by force, was the Spartan way. So the locals must have hated him, and I think many were eager to help the Persians.

Leonidas either understood it, and came to fight and die, since the Spartans never left the battlefield, to sacrifice the King so that the city would live.

Or, it was a very poorly planned expedition, demonstrating the immediate failure of the Spartan way. Which was to fight at the expense of own helots, peroikoi and metakos as well as other nations recruited by Leonidas, with the Spartans "guiding" the battle. There were about 7000 in the gorge, but if you look at the breakdown, Tegea, which was much smaller, sent more people than the Spartans or the Corinthians. And Opuntian Locris, "all they had". Which actually proves that many cities on Persian way chose to die but not Medize. So an expedition governed by Spartans, experts at land military battles, was almost immediate failure. Then, of course, the whole story about the Oracle and the King who must die could have been an attempt to distract from the fact that it was the Athenian naval strategy that won the 480 BC war.

On the other hand, if anyone saw the "old" 300 Spartans movie... remember Leonidas and Themistocles together looking at the map of Greece? It was more hilarious than the 300. Spartans rarely left their country and going to Thermopylai for them must have been the same as for me traveling to Kenya. So it was hard for Leonidas to plan anything, he simply had no clue where he went. No spies in Persian army except for questionable ties with Demaratos.

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Old November 14th, 2012, 11:26 AM   #26

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Arkteia, please don't ever take it personally if anyone ever says, "We've been here, talked about this, why does this topic keep coming up", as we are mostly full of our own self-importance. Some more than others.

Welcome to Historum.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 11:55 AM   #27

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Arkteia, please don't ever take it personally if anyone ever says, "We've been here, talked about this, why does this topic keep coming up", as we are mostly full of our own self-importance. Some more than others.

Welcome to Historum.
Oh, I never take anything personally, I am just frustrated that I can not figure out how to combine multiple quotations in one post! I did not take it personally at all, just tried to explain why I might be repeating what might have already been discussed and hence of no interest to others.

I am new so you can not predict my responses, but in general I am not easy to take offense. The only time I prefer to check out of discussions is when people personally attack each other, (e.g., "you are an idiot if you think..."), but so far I found none of such posts on this forum , which is good!

On a positive note - since I had to make separate posts, I got some other ideas, unrelated to the 300. The Spartans are popular, I even drove to Sparta to see what has been left of it. Eurotas has dried out to a small pool. But Lakedemon is "hollow". Very small, though.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 12:04 PM   #28
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Oh, I never take anything personally, I am just frustrated that I can not figure out how to combine multiple quotations in one post! I did not take it personally at all, just tried to explain why I might be repeating what might have already been discussed and hence of no interest to others.

I am new so you can not predict my responses, but in general I am not easy to take offense. The only time I prefer to check out of discussions is when people personally attack each other, (e.g., "you are an idiot if you think..."), but so far I found none of such posts on this forum , which is good!

On a positive note - since I had to make separate posts, I got some other ideas, unrelated to the 300. The Spartans are popular, I even drove to Sparta to see what has been left of it. Eurotas has dried out to a small pool. But Lakedemon is "hollow". Very small, though.
They seem, given their social system, to have had a remarkable grasp on public relations for their time, don't they? Not such simple soldiers as they seemed, perhaps - or was it just that the oligarchs projected their notions onto Lacedaimon?
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Old November 14th, 2012, 12:26 PM   #29

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They seem, given their social system, to have had a remarkable grasp on public relations for their time, don't they? Not such simple soldiers as they seemed, perhaps - or was it just that the oligarchs projected their notions onto Lacedaimon?
This is exactly the question I wanted to discuss. I think you are 100% spot on. They were not the best of soldiers, perhaps the sturdiest, but not the best strategists. But they were much better politicians than we give them credit for.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 05:27 PM   #30
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First of all - Sylla1 - I am really sorry if my posts my be a repeat of some prior discussions. You "have been there", I am new, and not used to the format of this forum. I can not even combine multiple quotes in one answer, the system constantly "kicks me out". I am not on too many forums. I shall learn ). I tried to find some old threads here, but the only one I saw was about the 300.

Some cities "Medized" out of necessity, they were the first on the Persians' way. On the Peloponnessus, only Argos openly did so. In general, the Greeks did not have the perception of the "nation", but the "tribal" ties were strong, hence Athens support of Ionic Greeks ten years earlier, or the Peloponnessisan states not Medizing after Sparta decided to fight. Mainland Greece was poor, and Persian taxes would have been difficult for the Greeks to pay. Policitally it made no sense to Medize, although wealthy aristocracy of some polices held Persian hand.

Thermopylai was the fastest, but not the only way for a large army to get into Central Greece, and the bypass routes were well-known (IMO the "betrayal" story lacks credence). (Geographically, the Isthmus was "the only" land way in Greece, nothing else).

Not all mountaineers living around the Thermopylai Medized. Perhaps, none. Simply, the Persian army was consuming food, but they also brought some of their own, and they were not burning crops, leaving something for the next year. Leonidas, on the other hand, was using scorched land strategy, to prevent Persians from fast advance. Leaving nothing for the locals. This, as well as recruitment of people for his army by force, was the Spartan way. So the locals must have hated him, and I think many were eager to help the Persians.

Leonidas either understood it, and came to fight and die, since the Spartans never left the battlefield, to sacrifice the King so that the city would live.

Or, it was a very poorly planned expedition, demonstrating the immediate failure of the Spartan way. Which was to fight at the expense of own helots, peroikoi and metakos as well as other nations recruited by Leonidas, with the Spartans "guiding" the battle. There were about 7000 in the gorge, but if you look at the breakdown, Tegea, which was much smaller, sent more people than the Spartans or the Corinthians. And Opuntian Locris, "all they had". Which actually proves that many cities on Persian way chose to die but not Medize. So an expedition governed by Spartans, experts at land military battles, was almost immediate failure. Then, of course, the whole story about the Oracle and the King who must die could have been an attempt to distract from the fact that it was the Athenian naval strategy that won the 480 BC war.

On the other hand, if anyone saw the "old" 300 Spartans movie... remember Leonidas and Themistocles together looking at the map of Greece? It was more hilarious than the 300. Spartans rarely left their country and going to Thermopylai for them must have been the same as for me traveling to Kenya. So it was hard for Leonidas to plan anything, he simply had no clue where he went. No spies in Persian army except for questionable ties with Demaratos.
Our Oka is right, my apologies if I let myself be misunderstood

"We have already been there" just implies that...
... we have already been there...

... i.e. that this is not the first time we have any discussion on these particular events.

So if anyone would like to check out the valuable contributions of other Historumites in any previous thread on this fascinating issue, they couldn't complain that no one informed them

And trust me on this one, there have been myriad threads on good ol' Leonidas I & Thermopylae.

And yup, I also think the betrayal story was not required for any invaders to eventually find their way bypassing the pass.
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