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Old November 9th, 2012, 11:46 PM   #1

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Leonidas' last stand - a sacrifice?


I think that the famous "300" was actually not a heroic act, but a necessity. We all remember how religious the Spartans were. When they asked the Delphi Oracle about the outcome of the Persian War, the first answer was unfavorable. They asked again (had they sent a more valuable gift this time?), and the answer was, "your king, or your glorious city". So the King had to die, to save the city. Basically, there was no choice, and Leonidas knew it, hence only 300 people, all fathers, all not young men. I always wondered why Leonidas, not Latychidas, the other King, was chosen. Given that Leonidas had seemingly decent relationships with Demaratos, an important adviser to Xerxes at that time. At the same time, Demaratos hated Lathychidas. Would have made more sense to "sacrifice" him. But what do we know about Spartans? So... not a hero, but a willing sacrifice, to fulfill the prophecy.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 02:41 AM   #2

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They should have asked a third time and bring an even greater gift.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 02:49 AM   #3

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It is both. The hysterophemia was very important to them. That is to say, their fame after death, would immortalize them.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 05:12 AM   #4

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The last stand had a strategical importance, they pinned down the persian army to let the rest of the allied greek army retreat to the safety, if the persians passed the Thermopylae his cavalry whold had advantage in chasing the retreating greeks

But i had a question why the Thespian stayed too,
not only in the Thermopylae but nearly in every battle that the Thespians fought , they simple never retreat (a religious tradition maybe)
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Old November 10th, 2012, 05:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arkteia View Post
I think that the famous "300" was actually not a heroic act, but a necessity. We all remember how religious the Spartans were. When they asked the Delphi Oracle about the outcome of the Persian War, the first answer was unfavorable. They asked again (had they sent a more valuable gift this time?), and the answer was, "your king, or your glorious city". So the King had to die, to save the city. Basically, there was no choice, and Leonidas knew it, hence only 300 people, all fathers, all not young men. I always wondered why Leonidas, not Latychidas, the other King, was chosen. Given that Leonidas had seemingly decent relationships with Demaratos, an important adviser to Xerxes at that time. At the same time, Demaratos hated Lathychidas. Would have made more sense to "sacrifice" him. But what do we know about Spartans? So... not a hero, but a willing sacrifice, to fulfill the prophecy.
Makes sense. Since the enemy could get past them, nothing else does.
Simonides' verses show they were deeply appreciated anyway. A loathsome people with some very admirable qualities, fair play!
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Old November 10th, 2012, 07:14 AM   #6
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I think that the famous "300" was actually not a heroic act, but a necessity. We all remember how religious the Spartans were. When they asked the Delphi Oracle about the outcome of the Persian War, the first answer was unfavorable. They asked again (had they sent a more valuable gift this time?), and the answer was, "your king, or your glorious city". So the King had to die, to save the city. Basically, there was no choice, and Leonidas knew it, hence only 300 people, all fathers, all not young men. I always wondered why Leonidas, not Latychidas, the other King, was chosen. Given that Leonidas had seemingly decent relationships with Demaratos, an important adviser to Xerxes at that time. At the same time, Demaratos hated Lathychidas. Would have made more sense to "sacrifice" him. But what do we know about Spartans? So... not a hero, but a willing sacrifice, to fulfill the prophecy.
Far as I can tell it was just bad strategy.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 10:44 AM   #7

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They should have asked a third time and bring an even greater gift.
It's funny how money seemed to change the Oracle's view on things.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 10:52 AM   #8

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Originally Posted by Tairusiano View Post
The last stand had a strategical importance, they pinned down the persian army to let the rest of the allied greek army retreat to the safety, if the persians passed the Thermopylae his cavalry whold had advantage in chasing the retreating greeks
This is pretty much it. When the pass was turned, a holding action had to take place in order to allow a proper retreat and regroup. It was basically a tactical requirement that was made easier to swallow because of the Oracle. The Thespians were just some damn courageous people, and their sacrifice was never forgotten by the Spartans.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 05:05 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tairusiano View Post
The last stand had a strategical importance, they pinned down the persian army to let the rest of the allied greek army retreat to the safety, if the persians passed the Thermopylae his cavalry whold had advantage in chasing the retreating greeks

But i had a question why the Thespian stayed too,
not only in the Thermopylae but nearly in every battle that the Thespians fought , they simple never retreat (a religious tradition maybe)
It is not mentioned in the Internet, but I think there may be a book in my library indicating that the Thespians were a Doric tribe and mentioning old ties between the Thespians and the Spartans. (It does not make much sense to me because Thespians were part of Beotia, but I am positive I read it somewhere.) In many ways, a Doric tribe living in the mountainous area had a higher chance of retaining old customs. There was probably more cultural similarities between the Thespians and the Spartans than between the Spartans and the Corinthians.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 05:12 PM   #10

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It's funny how money seemed to change the Oracle's view on things.
The Oracle was a religious and a political body. At the risk of being thrown out of this forum, I shall allude to most recent political events, which have shown how much money is poured into politics and how often politics uses religion for support, and vise versa!
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