All the information we have was recorded by Heroditus 60 years after the battle. He gathered his information by inteviewing veterans of the war, mostly Athenians. The Athenians were just as facinated with the Spartans as we are today because their culture was so diferent. There are many instances where Herodotus says outright that he has conflicting reports but will give us the most believable story.
Modern historians are fairly sure that Herodatus miss-understood the Persian numbering system when he reported a million Persans. They are fairly sure they can calculate back to 300,000 because Herodatus gives a breakdown of how he compiled the numbers.
50% of the Greek states "mediated". They gave earth and water to the Persians and allied with them. Greek aliances with the Persians went back many generations, especialy in Anatolia (Turkey).The whole point of the Persian invasion was to punish Athens for aiding a Greek Revolt in Anatolia against their overlord Persians. It is likely that there would have been a lot of Greeks fighting as heavy Greek infantry in the Persian army.
We know for sure that when Alexander the Great fought the Persians, the Persians had more Greeks in their army then Alexander did. It was the Greek mercenaries that offered Alexander the greatest resistance in Persia.
To understand the Spartans you must know why they became the great military society that they were. Sparta like all other Greek states was a slave society.This was the basis of their society that made thier civilization posible. They were almost completely defeated by a slave revolt around 700 BC. As a result they turned themselves into a military society in order to control their huge slave polulation. In an era before machine guns, a slave polulation with sharp sticks was a very real threat. Slaves outnumbered free Spartans 20 or more times. Hence the Spartans were trained to accept the fact that they would always be outnumbered many times over in any fight and they were expected to win.
The Spartans were not suicidal. They were trained to win, not die. They were very religious though and the oracle of Delphi said that a Spartan king must die for Greece to be free. It is likely that King Lionidis intentionaly stayed to satisfy the oracle. Even when the Persians were comming around the pass, Thucidities, the Athenia Admiral, offered to take the Spartans to safety on his ships.
Funny that even though the movie may seem exagerated, it is posible that in reality it might have been even more fantastic in other ways.
What I find even more amazing was the victory that the Greeks pulled off the following year at platia against the Persians. The victory at Platia was also a battle against great odds, but does not get as much glory. Infact, the Spartan General that won the battle was forced to commit suicide in disgace by the Spartans.
Edited by tsafa (12/07/07 01:01 AM)
An unused weapon is a useless weapon...