Sunday, March 9, 2008

Thermopylae - Monument of Leonidas

In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian Empire at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the Persians for three days in one of history's most famous last stands. A small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta blocked the only road through which the massive army of Xerxes I of Persia (Xerxes the Great) could pass. After three days of battle, a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a mountain path that led behind the Greek lines. Dismissing the rest of the army, King Leonidas stayed behind with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespian volunteers and slaves. The Persians succeeded in taking the pass but sustained heavy losses, extremely disproportionate to those of the Greeks. The fierce resistance of the Spartan-led army offered Athens the invaluable time to prepare for a decisive naval battle that would come to determine the outcome of the war.

At the site, there is a modern monument , called the "Leonidas Monument" in honour of the Spartan king.

It features a bronze statue of Leonidas. A sign, under the statue, reads simply: "Come and take them!". The metope below depicts battle scenes. The two marble statues on the left and the right of the monument, represent respectively the river Eurotas and the mount Taygetos, hallmarks of Sparta.

More info here

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