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Old November 14th, 2012, 11:11 PM   #31

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Sylla1, you have to be more precise. How would I know that by "we have already been there" you do not mean "we have already stood at Thermopylai"?

I am trying, I am trying. Read 23 pages of Alcibiades thread. Half of the material. Another thread is very interesting, but it is 68 pages long! Interesting forum.

But really, no offence taken. Someone here has been very helpful with MQs. They were off in my system.

Last edited by arkteia; November 14th, 2012 at 11:16 PM.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 07:20 AM   #32

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Hear your fate, O dwellers in Sparta of the wide spaces;
Either your famed great town must be sacked by Perseus' sons,
Or, if that be not, the whole land of Lacedaemon
Shall mourn the death of a king of the House of Heracles,
For not the strength of lions or bulls shall hold him,
Strength against strength; for he has the power of Zeus,
And will not be checked until one of these two he has consumed.

- from Selincourt's translation



The Royalty, as a political entity, seems very unstable at this time in Sparta. You have Demaratus that is absent (supposedly with Xerxes), and Cleomenes has committed a horrible suicide. You have Leotychidas, which has not fully ascended to the throne? And he got the kingship by scheming with Cleomenes - thereby dragging his name deeply in the mud.

Leonidas... a man who probably hoped for but never thought he'd truly ascend to King.

Who to send to Thermopylae and why in my opinion?

Well, I think it only proper if Demaratus was with Xerxes, to send a King to fight him from the opposing dynasty. Although it would make equal sense to send Leotychidas as he hated him and wanted his place on the throne.

By sending such a small force, it may have been known that the action would lead to suicide. As Leonidas was relatively new on the scene, his political clout may not have been great enough to dodge such a mission.

Why? Because this mission wasn't for the fate of Sparta. The fate of Sparta rested with protecting the Peloponnese.

I truly think that Sparta was split. They wanted first and foremost to protect the Pel. at the Isthmus but at the same time they could not afford to alienate the rest of Greece as they had done with Thessaly. Greek towns dropped like flies without support.

Leonidas being sent was to give confidence to the rest of Greece. To keep defection at a minimum. Namely, Athens!!!

People always talk about buying time - for the festival? Both the Carneia and the Olympics were happening. Possibly the delay was for them but I believe it was just to buy time for Sparta's Peloponnese - no one else. Let the rest do what they can and perish like the second rate poleis they are - slaves all of them. The better for Sparta.

The death of Leonidas probably had the same effect that 9/11 or pearl harbor had on the United States. You see an almost instant unity and purpose. It probably wasn't as pronounced but it must have been there to a degree.

The ultimate battle never made it to the Peloponnese. The Spartans did good for their polis. This one battle, if nothing else, MADE their reputation.


On a side note, I had the opportunity this past summer to visit Thermopylae and got to stand on the hill where the Spartans made their last stand! The hill was pretty small compared with the mountains to the immediate west of it. There must not have been many troops left in the final battle (though the hill must have been much larger back then - so there is that to consider). There are two monuments there at Thermopylae and the hot springs are still active.

Last edited by President Camacho; November 17th, 2012 at 07:31 AM.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 08:33 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by President Camacho View Post
Hear your fate, O dwellers in Sparta of the wide spaces;
Either your famed great town must be sacked by Perseus' sons,
Or, if that be not, the whole land of Lacedaemon
Shall mourn the death of a king of the House of Heracles,
For not the strength of lions or bulls shall hold him,
Strength against strength; for he has the power of Zeus,
And will not be checked until one of these two he has consumed.

- from Selincourt's translation



The Royalty, as a political entity, seems very unstable at this time in Sparta. You have Demaratus that is absent (supposedly with Xerxes), and Cleomenes has committed a horrible suicide. You have Leotychidas, which has not fully ascended to the throne? And he got the kingship by scheming with Cleomenes - thereby dragging his name deeply in the mud.

Leonidas... a man who probably hoped for but never thought he'd truly ascend to King.

Who to send to Thermopylae and why in my opinion?

Well, I think it only proper if Demaratus was with Xerxes, to send a King to fight him from the opposing dynasty. Although it would make equal sense to send Leotychidas as he hated him and wanted his place on the throne.

By sending such a small force, it may have been known that the action would lead to suicide. As Leonidas was relatively new on the scene, his political clout may not have been great enough to dodge such a mission.

Why? Because this mission wasn't for the fate of Sparta. The fate of Sparta rested with protecting the Peloponnese.

I truly think that Sparta was split. They wanted first and foremost to protect the Pel. at the Isthmus but at the same time they could not afford to alienate the rest of Greece as they had done with Thessaly. Greek towns dropped like flies without support.

Leonidas being sent was to give confidence to the rest of Greece. To keep defection at a minimum. Namely, Athens!!!

People always talk about buying time - for the festival? Both the Carneia and the Olympics were happening. Possibly the delay was for them but I believe it was just to buy time for Sparta's Peloponnese - no one else. Let the rest do what they can and perish like the second rate poleis they are - slaves all of them. The better for Sparta.

The death of Leonidas probably had the same effect that 9/11 or pearl harbor had on the United States. You see an almost instant unity and purpose. It probably wasn't as pronounced but it must have been there to a degree.

The ultimate battle never made it to the Peloponnese. The Spartans did good for their polis. This one battle, if nothing else, MADE their reputation.


On a side note, I had the opportunity this past summer to visit Thermopylae and got to stand on the hill where the Spartans made their last stand! The hill was pretty small compared with the mountains to the immediate west of it. There must not have been many troops left in the final battle (though the hill must have been much larger back then - so there is that to consider). There are two monuments there at Thermopylae and the hot springs are still active.
Historically, the ultimate battle did it to the Peloponnese.

The historical successful stand that successfully saved the still free Hellas from the Persians and their allied Hellenes was at the Isthmus of Korinthos.

And certainly not the futile massacre at Thermopylae.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 09:06 AM   #34

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And certainly not the futile massacre at Thermopylae.
Thats your opinion Sylla and certainly not shared by me.

The plan of halting the Persian advance at the hot gates of Thermopylae belonged to Thermistocles and not Leonidas. All Leonidas did was ensure that there was some modicum of Spartan representatives present, given that all of the Greek city states were under threat and Sparta missed out on Marathon.

The presence of the Spartans certainly added steel to any plan on holding the Passage due to the utter profesisonalism of their army in comparison with the other Greek city states, which certainly helped in the final deciion of the Spartans stand after their position got flanked.

I dont understand why you keep using this non sequitor argument that it was a useless massacre. It was certainly not useless. The plan at the hot gates was neccesary to allow the Spartans to finish the Carnea and for the Greeks to compose a plan of operations to counter the Persian threat.

From all accounts, the Persians were getting very very frustrated with the tactics of the Greeks because they could not break through, and the rotation in the lines kept the Greeks fresh.

It is utterly absurd for the Greeks, an agrarian civilisation, let the huge Persian army run riot around the states, building possible alliances and hegenomy, especially whilst a key component in the alliance, the Spartans (as they proved to be at Platea) were forbidden from combat whilst the Carnea was in action.

It is even more absurd, imo, to call Leonidas' last stand futile, taking into account the traditions of the Spartans in not retreating in disgrace, the proud personality of Leonidaas (although in this case not a detriment) and the very real fact that it would have been possible for the Persians to run down those Greek elements that had parted from Leonidas. Bearing in mind the numerical disparity between the two forces.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 09:27 AM   #35
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Thats your opinion Sylla and certainly not shared by me.

The plan of halting the Persian advance at the hot gates of Thermopylae belonged to Thermistocles and not Leonidas. All Leonidas did was ensure that there was some modicum of Spartan representatives present, given that all of the Greek city states were under threat and Sparta missed out on Marathon.

The presence of the Spartans certainly added steel to any plan on holding the Passage due to the utter profesisonalism of their army in comparison with the other Greek city states, which certainly helped in the final deciion of the Spartans stand after their position got flanked.

I dont understand why you keep using this non sequitor argument that it was a useless massacre. It was certainly not useless. The plan at the hot gates was neccesary to allow the Spartans to finish the Carnea and for the Greeks to compose a plan of operations to counter the Persian threat.

From all accounts, the Persians were getting very very frustrated with the tactics of the Greeks because they could not break through, and the rotation in the lines kept the Greeks fresh.

It is utterly absurd for the Greeks, an agrarian civilisation, let the huge Persian army run riot around the states, building possible alliances and hegenomy, especially whilst a key component in the alliance, the Spartans (as they proved to be at Platea) were forbidden from combat whilst the Carnea was in action.

It is even more absurd, imo, to call Leonidas' last stand futile, taking into account the traditions of the Spartans in not retreating in disgrace, the proud personality of Leonidaas (although in this case not a detriment) and the very real fact that it would have been possible for the Persians to run down those Greek elements that had parted from Leonidas. Bearing in mind the numerical disparity between the two forces.
You're right; we don't share the same opinion here.

The only difference is the strength of the relevant hard evidence backing each position.

Definition of FUTILE:
1: serving no useful purpose : completely ineffective
(Source: Merriam-Webster)

Objectively so, such definition simply couldn't apply any better to the famous futile stand at Thermopylae.

And certainly not to the successful stand at the Isthmus of Korinthos.

(Successful in spite of the brave but militarily absurd waste of extremely valuable resources by good ol' Leonidas I)

The comparison between the sober facts and the urban myth couldn't be any more eloquent.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 09:29 AM   #36

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Okimido, sorry, my cell phone has problems with quotes. I do not quite understand why the Greeks even botherrd with the Isthmus, Sparta was the most vulnerable place had the Persians sailed around and disembarked at Gythaeum, the Spartan Harbor. Spartans were zero sailors. The Isthmus was very vulnerable, for the same reason. Does not add up. I think they secretly decided to Medize if the Persians went pass Athens and Megara. Well, perhaps allow Athenians take the last stand before the Isthmus, because, technically, Athenians were at Troezen at that time. The Persians were not so ill-disposed towards the Spartans as towards Athenians. I often think that actually, part of problems with Persian campaign had to do with the season. Same as Napoleon and Hitler. August is a scorcher, but that year, there were many storms at the sea.
BTW, if I understand correctly, the Spartans died in rainy weather because it was happening at the same time as Artemisium. One can still see the hills marking the grave of the Greek groups at Thermopylai, right?,But there is no gorge, the Kallidromos slipped into the sea. So one can not imagine how it would ha e looked. B
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Old November 17th, 2012, 09:37 AM   #37

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Sylla, why the Istmus? At Plataea, it is Beotia. Mardonius's army was standing in Northern Greece.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 09:39 AM   #38

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I think they secretly decided to Medize if the Persians went pass Athens and Megara.
That was not going to happen. Sparta had a very strong anti-persian stance, so much that Kleomenes actually considered an invasion of the Empire, only deciding against it when he learned the true distance of the capital.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 09:49 AM   #39

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Originally Posted by sylla1 View Post
You're right; we don't share the same opinion here.

The only difference is the strength of the relevant hard evidence backing each position.

Definition of FUTILE:
1: serving no useful purpose : completely ineffective
(Source: Merriam-Webster)

Objectively so, such definition simply couldn't apply any better to the famous futile stand at Thermopylae.

And certainly not to the successful stand at the Isthmus of Korinthos.

(Successful in spite of the brave but militarily absurd waste of extremely valuable resources by good ol' Leonidas I)

The comparison between the sober facts and the urban myth couldn't be any more eloquent.
Well then if this is your view on events, you need to blame Thermistocles and not Leonidas, for he was the one who came up with dual plan of defending the pass of Thermopylae and the naval battle of Artemisium.

Where I do agree with you, is that in the context of the war, Thermopylae was insignificant in that Xerxes was eventually able to overcome a near impregnable position of force multipliers and conquer still much of Greece. This I am going to presume is where your argument comes from, and is a view of some modern historians.

However, I will point out that George Cawkwell suggested that Xerxes eventual defeat at Salamis was caused in the gap between Thermopylae and said battle, because Xerxes procrastinated and tried to systematically reduce any opposition in Boeotia and Phocis. Now, I can only speculate here, but I do not think this would have happened if Xerxes was allowed to immediately run rampant across those territories, without any form of resistance.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 10:01 AM   #40

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Mangekyou, you would be right if there was any parity in the size of both armies. Then the Greeks had a chance not to lose the battle. As it was, death of 7000 hoplites, plus slaves, plus inhabitants of Lacedemon, was a huge loss in manpower. OK, Leonidas let the rest go back before the final battle, but many had been killed at that time.
I sometimes wonder if the plan of that battle belonged to Themistokles. To lock the Persian troops in a narrow gorge, and to block the ships in a narrow strait between Eubea and the mainland Greece. If you look at the map, it seems a good idea, and Themistoklus later used similar strategy of "blocking" largeur Persian fleet at Salamin. In this case, e en if Leonidas did not hold, the warriors could get on the sthips help the navy. Remember, he offered Leonidas to take the troops? Meaning they still had enough shops and space. If this episode was not a later addition.I


But with the weather and the destruction of the Greek fleet, the plan could be used.

Why is it all a big IF? Because, honestly, we do not know the size of Persian army. I was trying to guestimate how many people could Xerxes take with him, how many he had to leave in Persia to guard his King's position, and how many needed to stay in satrapies. The reason his army was so heterogenous is because he could not take too many Persians, they had to be in satrapies. His immortals were with him, of course. I think the size of real army is overinflated, and if it was so heterogenous, it was not such a good army. This is what Themistokles took into account.
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