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Old November 17th, 2012, 11:09 AM   #41
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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.
IMHO (just that) it would be hard to blame too much Themistokles for trying to protect his own homeland (Athens) at any risk & cost.
Leonidas I, King of Sparta, was an entirely different story.

AFAIK both Mr Cawkwell and you are simply freely speculating without any single piece of relevant evidence that may back such nicely apologetic wishful thinking.

At least Mr Cawkwell may have some obvious & reasonable marketing considerations in mind; who knows?

As it may be, the undeniable historical fact is that the Persian invasion and their Hellene allies were stopped at the Isthmus.

And obviously not by the futilely slaughtered Spartans & allies at Thermopylae.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 11:09 AM   #42

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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.
I tend to agree with you. But I also agree with a couple (but not all of the suggetions that Cawkwell makes. He mentions that the war would Greece would be won on land and not sea, and once they forced the gates of Thermopylae, the naval priority would be not as high. This could be one of the reasons why Thermistocles wanted to hold them their. How long would the Persians have been able to hold out, before they would need to retreat due to shortage of food and water?

This is indeed a good point imo, and the Greeks had what they thought was an unassailable position, and were able to use the terrain very effectively as force multipliers. The Persian were made to enter a narrow pass so they could not outflank the position, and attacking head on, the weight of a Persian attack would also be nullified, because the Greeks were better armoured, had more effective weapons and tactics, and in the Spartans, a very disciplined and professional fighting elite. Without the betrayal, a Persian retreat, at least for a little while, would have been very real, imo.

The other thing I agree with, is the Persian mistake of leaving Attica. The Athenians could not spend consiistently long seasons fighting away from their city, so the Persians gave them breathing space here, and the ability to campaign for longer, sustainable periods.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 11:20 AM   #43

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IMHO (just that) it would be hard to blame too much Themistokles for trying to protect his own homeland (Athens) at any risk & cost.
Leonidas I, King of Sparta, was an entirely different story.
Exactly. To defend his homeland. Just like Leoniadas had his own reasons, most of which represented the Spartan society.


Quote:
AFAIK both Mr Cawkwell and you are simply freely speculating without any single piece of relevant evidence that may back such nicely apologetic wishful thinking.

At least Mr Cawkwell may have some obvious & reasonable marketing considerations in mind; who knows?
Mr Cawkwells book; The Greek wars: The failure of Persia, is a critically researched work, which is held in high regard (moreso for scholars than general readers, because at times the text is heavy). Our fellow historumite, Kirialax would attest to this.

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As it may be, the undeniable historical fact is that the Persian invasion and their Hellene allies were stopped at the Isthmus.
This is a red herring imo.

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And obviously not by the futilely slaughtered Spartans & allies at Thermopylae.
This is your opinion, and I respect it, but do not entirely agree. Mainly because I have no idea from which basis your argument stems, becasue you haven't stated it yet, other than to use the outcomes of the wars.

I will reply more later, if needed to
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Old November 17th, 2012, 11:29 AM   #44

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That the battle never reached the Peloponnese is a victory for Sparta. The Persians were a YEAR in Boeotia, at Athens back door. They destroyed the Acropolis and looted Athens.

Sparta got nearly everything she wanted. She kept the Persians out of the Peloponnese, saw Athens brought low, and increased her prestige as the premier polis of ancient Greece at the time.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 11:31 AM   #45
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Exactly. To defend his homeland. Just like Leoniadas had his own reasons, most of which represented the Spartan society.




Mr Cawkwells book; The Greek wars: The failure of Persia, is a critically researched work, which is held in high regard (moreso for scholars than general readers, because at times the text is heavy). Our fellow historumite, Kirialax would attest to this.



This is a red herring imo.



This is your opinion, and I respect it, but do not entirely agree. Mainly because I have no idea from which basis your argument stems, becasue you haven't stated it yet, other than to use the outcomes of the wars.

I will reply more later, if needed to
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions; the problem for Leonidas was ostensibly not so much his good intentions as his objective miltary incompetence.

That said, you must be kidding;
Advancing an obvious and valid explanation on why might any serious historian be overtly speculating without any relevant hard evidence couldn't be any less a "red herring" here.

If you really can't understand my position here, then that inability would inevitably impliy absolutely ignoring (for any reason) all the relevant historical facts on this war; period.

Of course I must respect any reason(s) for so Olympically ignoring such hard facts.

The relevant facts have already been clearly explained more than once in my lasts posts; it would be simply absurd to repeat them ad infinitum.

If anyone may still disagree, then some contrary relevant hard evidence and not just any fallacious bare denial is all what would be required here.

Last edited by sylla1; November 17th, 2012 at 11:40 AM.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 12:50 PM   #46

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I think that's a good point. The Spartans DID leave the Pelop. with their allies. Had they demanded more, the pass could have been effectively held - both the pass and the side route for a longer period if not indefinitely.

Why were the forces so small, though? The Spartans already had a relatively good idea on how big the Persian army was on account of Euanetus who commanded a vastly larger army than Leonidas and retreated because even his forces were considered too small for victory. Why then did Leonidas even propose to hold the pass when his forces would be more than half the size of Euanetus'?????

I think knowing that the conclusion which seems most palatable to me is that this effort was necessary to keep Greeks from defecting - not for victory. I don't think Leonidas even seriously considered it. He knew he was done for. When he sent an appeal to the surrounding areas for more men it was because he didn't want to get snuffed out so easily.

Back to Delphi... if this mission had nothing to do with it and if defection of other Greeks wasn't a major concern... why not send a polemarch to 'buy time'?
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Old November 17th, 2012, 01:16 PM   #47

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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.
First of all, sorry for quoting you, while in fact the post was made by President Camacho! I was trying to use my Droid to post, not wearing my eyeglasses, all I could see was something round, I thought it was your shield! I hope my post made any semblance of sense!

Why Sparta had strong anti-Persian stand I do not understand. It got morally subverted amazingly fast after Plateia, once the Spartans saw Persian luxury. We know that Kleomenes and Demaratos were both "bribable", and both rich. Kleomenes's intentions are always hard to read into. I suspect he heard about Persian gold, He was always eager to march and fight if there was a chance to win. His two Athenian marches and war with Argos are telling. He might have heard about Persian gold.

I can not understand their mentality, because trying to understand the mentality of not too educated men who did not have money as an exchange unit is hard. (Even forgetting the military part of it. If they really did not use money, it alone would be enough to make the society very different). I think that for such a society, the smell of gold would be irresistible.

Among many good deeds of Kleomenes was crushing Argos, which held a very strong pro-Persian position. Although the way he did it was quite cruel.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 01:23 PM   #48
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I think that's a good point. The Spartans DID leave the Pelop. with their allies. Had they demanded more, the pass could have been effectively held - both the pass and the side route for a longer period if not indefinitely.

Why were the forces so small, though? The Spartans already had a relatively good idea on how big the Persian army was on account of Euanetus who commanded a vastly larger army than Leonidas and retreated because even his forces were considered too small for victory. Why then did Leonidas even propose to hold the pass when his forces would be more than half the size of Euanetus'?????

I think knowing that the conclusion which seems most palatable to me is that this effort was necessary to keep Greeks from defecting - not for victory. I don't think Leonidas even seriously considered it. He knew he was done for. When he sent an appeal to the surrounding areas for more men it was because he didn't want to get snuffed out so easily.

Back to Delphi... if this mission had nothing to do with it and if defection of other Greeks wasn't a major concern... why not send a polemarch to 'buy time'?
Leonidas' army at Thermopylae was so small precisely because the Spartan government was perfectly well aware of the absolute futility of this suicidal stand and rather wisely didn't want to waste any more valuable resources on it.

God only knows why.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 02:42 PM   #49

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Ark, I'm a little confused. The quote was by Okamido and my icon is a tetradrachm and his icon is, I believe, pottery.


Syl,

So you're arguing that the over-riding factor for not sending more troops was the futility of the attempt to fight at Thermopylae? That defeat there was inevitable and that throwing Sparta's whole weight behind the campaign was futile? I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to find out your stance exactly.

I happen, as a relatively uneducated air-chair historian, tend to think that the overriding factor was in fact the Carneia and the Olympics.

Why would Sparta send a unit with a king when they could have sent a polemarch if the battle was so futile?

Why did Leonidas wish to go or why was he dispatched?

If Sparta wasn't concerned about fighting Persia, they never would have sent to ask for help from Gelon and would not have dispatched Euanetus to do battle.

If your view is that the battle of Therm was seen as futile then I have to make the conclusion that Sparta thought that fighting Persia altogether was futile... and I don't know if I can get to that point. I certainly don't want* to.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 03:02 PM   #50

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The road to Hell is paved with good intentions; the problem for Leonidas was ostensibly not so much his good intentions as his objective miltary incompetence.
I'd rather not get into a debate about military competence/incompetence of Leonidas, because im talking about the bigger picture of Greek strategy, rather than just him. Although the Greeks ended up losing that particular battle, and although it had no decisive impact on the war, it was not a completely futile effort.

I find that the premise of the plan was correct. The Persians were advancing from the north and were about to break out into the Boeotian plains. The time to stop to slow down the momentum and hold them for an amount of time was presented at the hot gates of Thermopylae.

If the Persians could not break through this pass in a frontal assault, then they had three options; attempt to bribe Leonidas, attempt to outflank the position either through a trail or through the sea, starve/retreat.

Leonidas made one mistake, in that he did not send enough troops to protect the trail, nor spare any Spartans from the frontlines to do this, nor did he take into consideration anything other than light troops would be able to attempt this pass.. If the the trail was protected better or if there was not any dissillusioned Greeks open to the bribery and insidious, yet highly effective methids of Persian espionage, then there is no evidence I can think of that the Persians would have been able to break through through those Hot gates, before their food supplies dwindled to worrying levels/morale dropped.

However, I will make it clear now, that im impressed with manner in which Xerxes broke through the defenses in a short amount of time, and at the point of time he occupied and raised Athens, he was in control of everything, and was presented with two opportunities to take before the tide was turned at Salamis, which were rejected.



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If you really can't understand my position here, then that inability would inevitably impliy absolutely ignoring (for any reason) all the relevant historical facts on this war; period.
If I understood, I wouldn't be asking. You've stated that you thought it was a waste, you've stated that the Isthmus should have been defended, but you have not stated your reasons for this. I dont think a case of "if you dont know the answer, though". Maybe you can educate those who do not know as much, by giving the relevant details?



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The relevant facts have already been clearly explained more than once in my lasts posts; it would be simply absurd to repeat them ad infinitum.
Not really.

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If anyone may still disagree, then some contrary relevant hard evidence and not just any fallacious bare denial is all what would be required here.
What type of evidence would you like? I will try and find the relevant details, tomorrow, and then ill post them in this thread.

I would also like to ask the same of you, for example why you stated in another post above this one that The Spartans did not lend support because they sought it as futile. The historical concensus is that the Carneia was a estival that was not to be interrupted with warfare, and they obeyed the laws of their festivals and missed the battle of Marathon. They were certainly not cowards, so why, especially given their strict laws?
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