Research Paper on The Greek's Stand at Thermopylae: 3 Days of Defiance vs. Persian Invasion

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1193 Words
Date:  2023-02-12


The battle of Thermopylae was between King of Leonidas of Sparta versus Xerxes 1of Persia. It lasts for three days. Persian invasion of Greece took place simultaneously with the battle of Artemisium. It was fought at Thermopylae, Greece from 8th and 10th of September 480 BC. The Athenian had a strategy that they had decided to use against the Persian army so that they could defeat them. At first, the plan worked exceptionally well for the Greek since they were able to destroy large numbers of their soldiers while theirs were not killed or injured and if they were, then the number could not match the ones they destroyed. They successfully held the Persian army for seven days although the Persian army greatly outnumbered them. Leonidas, who was their leader, blocked the way that was to be used by the Persian army. Themistocles was the one in charge of the Greece navy. The victory of Greece was dependent on successfully holding the Persians both at Artemisium and Thermopylae.

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After five days after the Persian army had arrived at Thermopylae, Xerxes decided to attack the Greeks, and so the battle started on that day. He started the fight by ordering that five thousand soldier to fire arrows against the Greek army but the bolts were ineffective since the Greek helmets' deflected the arrows. After that had refused to work for the Xerxes, he then decided to send a force composed of ten thousand Medes and Cissians to capture those defenders and bring them before him so that he could deal with them. The Greeks were more cautious since they decided to use the Phocian wall to fight the Persian since this would enable them to use as fewer soldiers as possible. Remembering that Persians were very many as compared to them, their number could not match the Persians at all. This strategy enabled the Greek army to kill so many Medes that were sent by Xerxes, and this irritated him a lot. It is stated that all these Medes that were sent to destroy the Greek army were only able to kill about two or three Greek soldiers 'cut to ribbons'.

To react to this King decided to send his best troop on that same day. The immortals were expected to do better than the first troop, but this was not the case, they did no better than the previous force. Both the Medes and the immortals did not make headway against the Greek soldiers. The enemy that is the Spartans played a trick on the Persians by behaving as if they had retreated and when the Persians so this they decided to ran after them so that they could destroy them, but the Spartans turned upon them and killed the troops that were running after them.

That was the first day, and now the battle continued to the following day. On this day, Xerxes thought that since the enemies were few and those that were remaining were injured and therefore not able to resist like the other times. This was not the case, though. The troop that Xerxes sent to attack the enemy were destroyed too just like the previous ones. This made the Xerxes surrender and therefore stopped the assault and decided to return to the camp, he withdrew from the battle. However, in that day before the King returned to the camp, something happened that seemed like it could turntables in the battle. Someone from Greece came on his way and decided to show the Persians the way they could use to outdo the Greek army. He was a Trichina called Ephialtes. He promised them to give them an alternative way of how they could get around the Thermopylae Mountain and thus surround their enemies. He was pledged to huge reward if this could work on their favour and so he was very determined to make the Persians win against Greece.

The king then decided to send the immortals so that they could surround the mountain via that path. The Spartans realized that they had been betrayed on the third day of the battle at around daybreak. They were so amazed by how the Persians managed to encircle them. This meant a lot since this betrayal probably could lead to their loss of the battle. At first, they retreated to the nearby hill to plan themselves. However, the Persians were not giving them space. They started shooting arrows at them. Some of the Greeks argued for withdrawal, and their leader the Leonidas allowed his allies to quit if they wished but around two thousand soldiers remained behind to continue with the battle after a reasonable number had left. These argued that retreating was against their customs and so they could continue with the fight to save Sparta. If all the Spartans had remained, they could have all been killed while if they all left, it could mean that the Persians would conquer the Greek without even getting there. Leonidas was also killed in the assault and Greek held possession of his body.

In the aftermath, the Persians were able to recover Leonida's body, and Xerxes ordered that the entity to decapitated and then crucified. So weird was this since the Persians were known by how they treated the bodies of warriors with great honour but then Xerxes was a raging king. Then the Persians departed, and the Spartans were left to collect their dead and buried them and a stone lion constructed at Thermopylae for the remembrance of Leonidas. Persians decided to bring Leonidas bones to Sparta after forty years where he was again buried with great honour. The Greek navy was able to return in good form, and they aided to ferry the remaining Greek people. Since Xerxes feared that Greeks could invade the bridges that led through the Hellespont and probably capture the Persians in Europe, therefore, he returned with most Persians back to Asia, but most of them died along the way due hunger and diseases. The Greeks were undoubtedly defeated in the battle of Thermopylae though they had the best strategy even though the Persians army outnumbered them. This battle is argued as the most famous battle in European ancient. The Greeks are the ones who showed excellent performance in the fight. What made this battle famous is the heroism of the doomed, the Spartans. Despite being defeated, they remained at the pass to protect their land. The defenders had proper training, equipment and made good use of their terrain, thus set a perfect example.


Cox, J. (2016). "They Died the Spartan's Death": Thermopylae, the Alamo, and the Mirrors of Classical Analogy. Advances in the History of Rhetoric, 19(3), 276-297.

de Jong, I. (2018). Herodotus' Handling of (Narratological) Time in the Thermopylae Passage. In Textual Strategies in Ancient War Narrative (pp. 113-130). Brill.Lazenby, J. F. (2016). Thermopylae, battle of. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics.Marincola, J. (2016). The Historian as Hero: Herodotus and the 300 at Thermopylae. TAPA, 146(2), 219-236.

van Wees, H. (2018). Thermopylae: Herodotus versus the Legend. In Textual Strategies in Ancient War Narrative (pp. 19-53). BRILL.Wasserman, J. (2017). Accurately Simulating the Battle of Thermopylae to Analyze" What If" Scenarios.

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Research Paper on The Greek's Stand at Thermopylae: 3 Days of Defiance vs. Persian Invasion. (2023, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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