The Thermopylae monument commemorates the glorious battle between the troops of the Persian king Xerxes I, and the alliance of 31 Greek city-states led by Sparta. It has verses of the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos on it as a decoration:
Oh stranger, tell the Lacedaemonians
that we lie here, obedient to their words.
Battle of Thermopylae
In 480 BC, Xerxes I started a battle in retaliation for the lost battle of Marthon and killing of his envoys. According to Herodotus, he formed a huge army of more than 5 million men. In reality they were much less, but still, they were greatly outnumbering the Greek allies. He traversed Hellespont (the Dardanelles) at a second try using his unique (for that time) pontoon bridge made of war ships tied together with ropes and bridged by beams. During his first try to cross strait, the pontoon was destroyed in a storm.
To save Athens and a few more continental towns, it was the Thermopylae gorge that was selected as the line of defence. Given its strategic position, in its narrowet point, it made possible to fight efficiently against a much stronger adversary. The commander of the Greek troops was the Spartan king Leonidas I with only 300 Spartan warriors and 3 000 allies. The Greek fleet that took the near strait between land and the island of Skiathos was led by the Spartan Eurybiades.
This time the weather wasn’t on Xerxes’ side either. The Persian fleet was seriously damaged in a windstorm that smashed many of their ships against rocks. Despite that, their superiority in numbers was still overwhelming. After the first day of the sea battle, a storm broke out lasting for three days and causing serious damage mainly on the Persian ships. After that the sea battle ended in a tie.
Meanwhile the foot fighters led by Leonidas were defending the pass at Thermopylae. For three days, they were repulsing the attacks of the Persian elite troop. They were finally defeated because of Ephialtes of Malis who betrayed them by showing to the Persians a secret path over the mountains in return for payment, so they could pass arounf the Greek troops and attack them from the back. Leonidas could send most of allies’ troops to a safe place. To the rear of his troops, he placed 1 000 Phocians to fight against the Persians, all that resisiting the hardest attack in the gorge where they fought to the last man.
In the battle Xerxes’ troops suffered severe losses, yet at the same time, the heroic fight of Leonidas and his men boosted the courage of Greek fighters. At the instigation of Athens, their troops didn’t retire to the Peloponnese but they decided to defend themselves near the island of Salamis. This island is rocky and it has many crooks, offering the Greeks better opportunities to fight against a large enemy. In the Battle of Salamis, the Greeks achieved victory, reversing the course of the war. Xerxes only left a small number of his soldiers in Greece, that was expelled later. This started the significant period of Greek history known as the Golden Age.
Thermopyly jsou jedním z nejvýznamnějších míst Rˇecka Při návštěvě tohoto legendárního místa bitvy u Thermopyl jsem prošel od teplých bran celé bojiště,navštívil jsem památník spartanů a krále Leonida a také vrch posledního odporu spartanů kde je mohyla a hrob spartanů. Návštěva Thermopyl je silný zážitek. Všem kdo vnímají historii a veké příběhy návštěvu doporučuji.Vynikajíci je kniha od Jiřího Kováříka Války ˇReků s Peršany kde je pasáž o této bitvě popsaná strhujícím způsobem končící větou Leonidas byl lev a všichní kdo s ním vytrvali byli lvi... Jara z Brna.