The battle of the Greek-Persian War became famous for the heroic sacrifice of the Spartan soldiers.
Persian Empire, Sparta, Xerxes, Leonidas, Persians, Greek, fight, warfare, Anopaia, city-state, battle, antiquity, Thermopylae, hoplite, phalanx, soldier, Greco-Persian wars, war, history, 5th century BC, Hellas
A part of the Persian army arrived at the bay from the sea, the other from the continent. The Persians were slowly getting ready for the battle, hoping that the Greeks would give up when they saw their overwhelming numerical superiority. The Spartan army, led by King Leonidas blocked the straits of Thermopylae and reinforced the stone walls. Thus they were defending a narrow space, which suited their style of warfare better. The king ordered the Phocians to defend the Anopaia path, which led through the mountains.
The Persian army started the attack against the Greek phalanx. In the first wave the Cissians and Medes attacked, their arrows ‘concealed the Sun.’ However, they could not break the lines of the Greeks. They suffered terrible losses and were forced to retreat.
In the next wave Xerxes sent the Immortals, the Persian elite force against the Greeks. Even they could not beat the Greeks, since the hoplites, equipped with long spears could fight more efficiently in the narrow space. After the huge losses suffered again, Xerxes realized that his war against Hellas was in danger.
A local resident named Ephialtesbetrayed the Greeks by offering Xerxes to guide the Persians through a path that led behind the Greek lines. Seeing the Persians on the Anopaia path, the Phocians retreated, and Leonidas ordered the withdrawal of the rest of the Greek army. According to legend, he stayed to form a rearguard with 300 Spartans and the Thebans, all of whom were killed. Their sacrifice was not in vain: they won time for the polises to get ready for the Persian attack.