what advantages did persia have at the battle of thermopylae

[105] By covering the retreat and continuing to block the pass, Leonidas could save more than 3,000 men, who would be able to fight again. [20] Also surviving is an epitome of the account of Ctesias, by the eighth-century Byzantine Photios, though this is "almost worse than useless",[21] missing key events in the battle such as the betrayal of Ephialtes, and the account of Diodorus Siculus in his Universal History. [61][92] The Persians soon launched a frontal assault, in waves of around 10,000 men, on the Greek position. [114] The Thebans "moved away from their companions, and with hands upraised, advanced toward the barbarians..." (Rawlinson translation), but a few were slain before their surrender was accepted. until his death at the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persian army in 480 B.C. Fighting in a tight phalanx in front of the Phocian wall, the Greeks inflicted massive losses on the attackers. Luring the Persian navy into the Straits of Salamis, the Greek fleet was able to destroy much of the Persian fleet in the Battle of Salamis, which essentially ended the threat to the Peloponnese. [50] This expedition was to try to gather as many other Greek soldiers along the way as possible and to await the arrival of the main Spartan army.[49]. Or, in exchange, must all through the whole Laconian country, Mourn for the loss of a king, descendant of great Heracles. Although coming from a mountainous country, the Persians were not prepared for the real nature of the country they had invaded. [65] Modern scholarly estimates are generally in the range 120,000–300,000. What Xerxes had not anticipated was that the Greeks held the tactical advantage at Thermopylae. The battle of Thermopylae is one of the most memorable battles fought during the Persian wars. Intended as a full-scale invasion, the task of assembling the necessary troops and supplies consumed several years. The Greeks had positioned themselves behind the rebuilt wall. It is also an example of Laconian brevity, which allows for varying interpretations of the meaning of the poem. The battle of Thermopylae took place between Sparta and Persia in 480 BCE. Attacked by the Persians, the Spartans and Thespians famously fought to the death. [124] As at Thermopylae, making this an effective strategy required the Greek navy to stage a simultaneous blockade, barring the passage of the Persian navy across the Saronic Gulf, so that troops could not be landed directly on the Peloponnese. Translation by William Shepherd, from the Cambridge series of translations by Greek and Roman authors. For the number of them that disappeared beneath the mud was great. [16] For example, the military strategist Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart defers to Grundy. When defending a narrow pass like the one at Thermopylae a phalanx was basically impenetrable to any attacks, the long spears deterring the attackers from advancing. Attempting to make a stand, they formed on a nearby hill but were bypassed by Hydarnes. Ephialtes, from local Trachis, tells Xerxes of a nearby mountain path that would allow the Persian forces to outflank the Greeks in a wider section of the Thermopylae Pass, a location that would have allowed Xerxes his overwhelming numbers their advantage once more. When the Persians recovered Leonidas' body, Xerxes, in a rage, ordered that the body be decapitated and crucified. was a king of the city-state of Sparta from about 490 B.C. [144] Ioannis Ziogas points out that the usual English translations are far from the only interpretation possible, and indicate much about the romantic tendencies of the translators. [78] The Persians, therefore, had to retreat or advance, and advancing required forcing the pass of Thermopylae. [106] Upon discovering that his army had been encircled, Leonidas told his allies that they could leave if they wanted to. The story is well known and easily told. In fact, in many corners of popular culture, the encounter is often depicted as 300 Spartans (aided by their rag-tag group of allies) versus over a million Persians. To this Leonidas gave his famous answer: Μολὼν λαβέ (pronounced Greek pronunciation: [moˈlɔːn laˈbe]) "Come and get them. [93][94] Details of the tactics are scant; Diodorus says, "the men stood shoulder to shoulder", and the Greeks were "superior in valour and in the great size of their shields. The Greeks had recently lost the Battle of Thermopylae and drawn the naval Battle at Artemision, both in August 480 BCE, as King Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE) and his Persian army went on the rampage. The fighting was most intense during two invasions that Persia launched against mainland Greece between 490 and 479. In Western culture at least, it is the Greeks who are lauded for their performance in battle. The Greeks could hide from the Persians and sneak attack them. 1. "—as in answer to Xerxes' demand that the Greeks give up their weapons). Vegetation is scarce and consists of low, thorny shrubs. While the bulk of the Greek army retreated, a force of 300 Spartans led by Leonidas I as well as 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians remained to cover the withdrawal. The number of troops which Xerxes mustered for the second invasion of Greece has been the subject of endless dispute, most notably between ancient sources, which report very large numbers, and modern scholars, who surmise much smaller figures. According to Herodotus[52][68] and Diodorus Siculus,[69] the Greek army included the following forces: Pausanias' account agrees with that of Herodotus (whom he probably read) except that he gives the number of Locrians, which Herodotus declined to estimate. [24], The Ionian revolt threatened the integrity of his empire, and Darius thus vowed to punish those involved, especially the Athenians, "since he was sure that [the Ionians] would not go unpunished for their rebellion". The tight battlefield nullified the Persians numerical preponderance, and it also prevented them from fighting the way they had been trained. Thereupon the Spartans sent these men to Media for execution." The simultaneous naval Battle of Artemisium had been a tactical stalemate, and the Greek navy was able to retreat in good order to the Saronic Gulf, where they helped to ferry the remaining Athenian citizens to the island of Salamis. According to Plutarch, Xerxes, king of Persia, demanded that the Spartans surrender their weapons and King Leonidas I responded with the phrase “Molon labe”, which means “Come and take them”. [125] However, instead of a mere blockade, Themistocles persuaded the Greeks to seek a decisive victory against the Persian fleet. Thermopylae (lit. After the battle, Spartan culture became an inspiration and object of emulation, a phenomenon known as Laconophilia. Since the Greek strategy required both Thermopylae and Artemisium to be held, given their losses, it was decided to withdraw to Salamis. [82], The terrain of the battlefield was nothing that Xerxes and his forces were accustomed to. After that, Xerxes sent a force of 10,000 Medes and Cissians to take the defenders prisoner and bring them before him. Having been turned back at Marathon in 490 BC, Persian forces returned to Greece ten years later to avenge their defeat and conquer the peninsula. After the second day, a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a small path used by shepherds. Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved, Stranger! The Battle of Thermopylae is the most important battle of the Persian War because the sacrifice of the men at Thermopylae later fueled the Greeks to push the Persian army back out of their country.Thermopylae prevented the Persians from conquering all of … Having been turned back at Marathon in 490 BC, Persian forces returned to Greece ten years later to avenge their defeat and conquer the peninsula. He emphasized that he had tried to warn Xerxes earlier in the campaign, but the king had refused to believe him. Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους = History of the Greek nation volume Β', Athens 1971, This page was last edited on 11 January 2021, at 16:59. In 481, Xerxes demanded tribute from the Greeks in an effort to avoid war. [126], Fearing the Greeks might attack the bridges across the Hellespont and trap his army in Europe, Xerxes now retreated with much of the Persian army back to Asia,[127] though nearly all of them died of starvation and disease on the return voyage. [110] The likelihood is that these were the Theban "loyalists", who unlike the majority of their fellow citizens, objected to Persian domination. However, once there, being warned by Alexander I of Macedon that the vale could be bypassed through Sarantoporo Pass and that Xerxes' army was overwhelming, the Greeks retreated. [77], Militarily, although the battle was actually not decisive in the context of the Persian invasion, Thermopylae is of some significance on the basis of the first two days of fighting. [77] The major weak point for the Greeks was the mountain track which led across the highland parallel to Thermopylae, that could allow their position to be outflanked. In the face of such imposing numbers, many Greek cities capitulated to the Persian demand for a tribute of earth and water. The first line of the epigram was used as the title of the short story "Stranger, Bear Word to the Spartans We…" by German Nobel Prize laureate Heinrich Böll. [121] A full 40 years after the battle, Leonidas' bones were returned to Sparta, where he was buried again with full honours; funeral games were held every year in his memory. The Geographical Analysis of the Battle of Thermopylae and how it Affected the Outcome The Spartans at Thermopylae held the advantage due to the massive bluffs on either side of the pass. Others refused to comply. [74], From a strategic point of view, by defending Thermopylae, the Greeks were making the best possible use of their forces. [107] Some of the Greeks argued for withdrawal, but Leonidas resolved to stay at the pass with the Spartans. To Sparta say, her faithful band, Stranger, report this word, we pray, to the Spartans, that lying. While some Greeks saw it as an excuse to ally with the Persians, others admired the Spartan example and redoubled their efforts to resist the Asian tide. Leonidas answered: "If you had any knowledge of the noble things of life, you would refrain from coveting others' possessions; but for me to die for Greece is better than to be the sole ruler over the people of my race. Lazenby, The Defence of Greece 490-479 BC (1993). In the 'Persian War' by Herodotus, it is mentioned that while the Greeks occupied the straits of Thermopylae, the Persians camped in an area called Trachinia. [104], Learning from a runner that the Phocians had not held the path, Leonidas called a council of war at dawn. [39] However, the Athenians lacked the manpower to fight on both land and sea; therefore, combating the Persians would require an alliance of Greek city-states. [110], The most likely theory is that Leonidas chose to form a rearguard so that the other Greek contingents could get away. The Battle of Thermopylae was fought in central Greece at the mountain pass of Thermopylae in 480 BCE during the Persian Wars. Alerted to the betrayal by a Phocian runner, Leonidas called a council of war. But Thermopylae, with its tale of courage against the odds and resolution in the face of death, captured the imagination and it maintains its hold two and a half millennia later as the definitive last stand and the ultimate patriotic sacrifice. They were joined by 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians, while the remainder of the army fell back. It branched, with one path leading to Phocis and the other down to the Malian Gulf at Alpenus, the first town of Locris. [100] Ephialtes was motivated by the desire for a reward. [137][140] Thermopylae is famous because of the heroism of the doomed rearguard, who, despite facing certain death, remained at the pass. Rahe, The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge (2015). Though possessing a weak army, Athens commenced building a large fleet of triremes under the guidance of Themistocles. "[166], After the battle, Xerxes was curious as to what the Greeks had been trying to do (presumably because they had had so few men) and had some Arcadian deserters interrogated in his presence. [77] Conversely, for the Persians the problem of supplying such a large army meant they could not remain in the same place for very long. Increasingly overwhelmed, the surviving Greeks fell back behind the wall and made a last stand on a small hill. [141] A second reason is the example it set of free men, fighting for their country and their freedom: So almost immediately, contemporary Greeks saw Thermopylae as a critical moral and culture lesson. The performance of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is also used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. [111], It is sometimes stated that Thermopylae was a Pyrrhic victory for the Persians[3][4] (i.e., one in which the victor is as damaged by the battle as the defeated party). Kennedy Hickman is a historian, museum director, and curator who specializes in military and naval history. The Battle of Thermopylae took place over three days.

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