The Battle of Thermopylae what really happened?

Aug 2017
39
Canada
#1
Hi in case anyone is interested I made content speaking about the events related to the Battle of Thermopylae. How it is exaggerated and misunderstood, the background as to why it happened and more!

 
Jul 2017
2,235
Australia
#2
I'm quite sure Delbruck puts the Persian forces as only 15,000 to 25,000 men maximum interestingly. He is a noted logistical analyst and highly criticizes ancient sources about exaggerations in personnel numbers.
 
Likes: bedb
Feb 2011
6,156
#3
We don't have surviving Persian records of the battle. But Herodotus did say that Xerxes hid the bodies of dead Persian soldiers until the battlefield looked like that for each dead Persian there were four dead Greeks (Herodotus claims 20 dead Persians for each dead Greek). The story of hiding the dead bodies seem silly and unlikely, but we at least know the Persian records would have stated a casualty ratio much more in favor of the Persians than that of the Greeks. The story was probably made up to discredit the Persian version of events.
 
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May 2013
395
Hays Kansas (ex Australian)
#4
I'm quite sure Delbruck puts the Persian forces as only 15,000 to 25,000 men maximum interestingly. He is a noted logistical analyst and highly criticizes ancient sources about exaggerations in personnel numbers.
But we do know the Persian army travelled with a lot of levee troops of very questionable quality. So a real force of some 25k is very reasonable, made to look more impressive with 75k of people who's greatest contribution to the battle will be to die
 
Aug 2017
39
Canada
#5
Yeah I have heard so many number tossed around for the Persian forces, Delbruck could be spot on! I had to use Herodotus mostly for this video and its laughable at best the figures he tosses around.
 
Sep 2013
597
Oakville, Ontario
#6
The active military of the whole Achaemenid Empire in 480 BC wasn't more than 400,000 at the very most. It was enormously expensive to finance a standing military, as Rome would later find, and even more so when it was on the move. It cost Alexander the Great almost the annual net income of the whole Achaemenid Empire (some 7500 silver talents a year during his conquest) and he undoubtedly had a much smaller active army, perhaps 50,000 at most.

Also that was spread out all over, they couldn't pull them all from border duties and garrisons and support for a single campaign. Limited by logistics at the very most maybe a full quarter, so 100,000 Persians at Thermopylae. Including the whole Navy which was involved in building the bridge of boats for the army to cross to Greece. Most of this was later destroyed at both Plataea and Salamis, ending Persian military ambitions.

I did read an account once which stated that Xerxes had the bodies of his dead men at Thermopylae quickly covered up with dirt, so that it wouldn't discourage his army to walk past heaps of their comrades.
 
Likes: Edratman
Jun 2012
7,067
Malaysia
#7
100,000 soldiers in one place. Even in 2,000 AD that would already be a not so unformidable logistical challenge. Let alone in 480 BC.

Even today not many countries would easily cough up a 100,000 strong army. Let alone 480 BC, when populations everywhere would hv been, what, easily 10,000 times smaller.

And what & how would a 100,000 man army in one place hv been eating, in 480 BC? Unless they had all been trained to live on leaves, grass and perhaps tree bark.
 
Likes: Edratman
Jul 2016
8,203
USA
#10
100,000 soldiers in one place. Even in 2,000 AD that would already be a not so unformidable logistical challenge. Let alone in 480 BC.

Even today not many countries would easily cough up a 100,000 strong army. Let alone 480 BC, when populations everywhere would hv been, what, easily 10,000 times smaller.

And what & how would a 100,000 man army in one place hv been eating, in 480 BC? Unless they had all been trained to live on leaves, grass and perhaps tree bark.
They ate the food they spent a decade preparing for an invasion. Remember that navy? It was important because it secured the Persian supply lines, where supplies were shipped from premade massive stockpiles to new logistical supply hubs in various Greek areas, close to the seas.

Archaeologists have found numerous sites at the Dardenelles showing just some of these supply depots. Those supplies were then ferried to the army, with more up the deeper it advanced.

When their navy lost, it endangered supplies making the larger force impossible to resupply, so they were sent home, with only the core remaining in occupied semi secure Thessaly and Boeotia, fertile areas with much grazing area for their animals.

There they were finally defeated by a Pan Hellenic coalition at Plataea.