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August 11, 2011 / jmeuropeana

Battle of Thermopylae

On the 11th of August –

In 480 BCE in the Battle of Thermopylae 300 Spartan warriors (together with some 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans) detain the 100.000-300.000 strong Persian army of Xerxes I in a rearguard action for three days, hoping that would be long enough for reinforcements to be gathered, and hoplites to be mobilized. The Atheneans, who were at the same time fighting a naval battle at Artemisium, had time to withdraw to Salamis when they learned of the loss of Thermopylae. There the Greek navy managed to win a decicive battle, after which Xerxes decided to withdraw.
Krieger von der Akropolis in Sparta, sogenannter Leonidas
Das Grab des Leonidas

The courage of the defenders fighting their Last Stand at Thermopylae inspires art to this present day, including this 1955 monument on site in Greece:
Denkmal zur Erinnerung an die heldenhafte Verteidigung des Passes gegen die Perser (480 v.Chr.)
In 2003 the movie 300 depicted the full horror of the event.

Xerxes’ army used a pontoon bridge to get their reputed one milion man (more likely between 100 and 300 thousand) across the Bosporus. This early nineteenth Century study examines how this was possible:
Ueber Herodots Ausmessung des Pontus Euxinus, Bosporus, Hellespontus und der Propontis so wie über die Schiffbrücken der Perser, wodurch sie Europa und Asien verbunden : nebst einem Nachtrage über die Entstehung des Bosporus Thracius nach Choiseul-Gouffier

It has been suggested that if it weren’t for the Battle of Salamis, which could not have been fought without the Battle of Thermopylea, Europe would have a Zoroastrian culture.

Note: the German and English versions of Wikipedia differ on the date of the battle: the German one has the 11th August, the English one mentions 7th of August or 8-10 September. They do agree on the year, though.


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