Thermopylae battle is probably one of the most famous battles of ancient Greeks against the Persian Empire which took place in 480 BC. It lasted for three days and it was a fight of the united Greek cities-states against emperor Xerxes of Persia who was a common enemy for all Greeks.
Why the 300 chose the area of Thermopylae as a battlefield?
The location was chosen because the Greeks were only a few compared to the army of Persians, thus the narrow passage of Thermopylae was a strategic spot that would minimize the role of numbers. According to ancient Greek sources, Persian soldiers were millions (but it is considered to be an exaggeration depicting although the difference in numbers...). Actually, researchers believe that the Persian army included 100.000 to 300.000 soldiers.
Greeks managed to defend their side for 7 days, including the three days battle under the command of King Leonidas. They retained the only way the Persian army could pass and probably conquer the rest of ancient Greece.
The shameful betrayal of Efialtis in ThermopylaeOn the third day, a local citizen called Efialtis showed a secret road to Persians leading them behind of Greek army and attacking them after surrounding. When Leonidas realized the betrayal, he ordered the majority of the soldiers to leave in order to avoid a massacre and he kept fighting with 300 Spartans, 400 Thespians, 400 soldiers from Thebes, and probably some more who denied leaving. Most of the soldiers died on the battlefield.
Why the battle of Thermopylae became one of the most world-famous battles?
Thermopylae battle is a perfect example of selflessness, sacrifice, and obedience to the laws of the country. The resistance in the passage is a result of hard military training, better gear, and strategic use of the land in order to multiply the defense abilities.
Where is the Thermopylae Memorial?
The passage of Thermopylae (that literally means "Hot Gates") doesn't exist anymore since the mud deposition made by the Spercheios river moved the beach and the sea a few kilometers away. Near Thermopylae, next to the national road connecting Athens to Thessaloniki there is a memorial statue of King Leonidas and his soldiers with an inscription saying:
"Ὦ ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι", which means: "Stranger, tell Spartans that we lay here, staying faithful to Sparta’s laws."