Title: The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans and the Forgotten Citizen-Soldiers Who Fought with Them
Publication: January 22nd 2018
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History
Purchase Link: Amazon
Most people know about the Battle of Thermopylae, even if they don’t recognize the name. During the second Persian invasion of Greece, 300 Spartans fought against Xerxes I’s forces on a narrow mountain pass. With such cinematic details, no wonder this sensational battle inspired the blockbuster film 300. However, both the film and popular imagination miss many important details about this battle. This concise history sheds light on the thousands of Greek citizen-soldiers who fought alongside the Spartans, forever changing the course of Greek identity and nationhood.
When thinking of The Battle of Thermopylae most people (myself included) probably only think of the 2006 movie 300 by director Zack Snyder, where a force of 300 Spartans fights the Persians. However, thanks to this book by in60Learning I learned this definitely wasn’t the case. It states that many representatives of Greece were present at the battle. Three hundred Spartans did fight there but so did 5700-7200 Grecian hoplites. Hoplites were citizen-soldiers of Greek city-states.
I love how all city-states, especially the Athenians and the Spartans (since they were the largest power at the time) had their issues with one another but when faced with the threat of the Persian, they came together and fight. I’ve always had a fascination with ancient Greece, especially Sparta so I thought this book was really fascinating. I basically couldn’t read fast enough to absorb all the information. It was all truly compelling and made for a very good read.
At 37 pages it’s already a short and straight-to-the-point book, so I flew through it in no time. I can’t express enough how these in60Learning books are so easy to read as well as interesting and educational. I’d highly recommend them. Also, although the book is mainly about The Battle of Thermopylae (obviously) it also has some interesting information about the ancient world. I can’t imagine that not everyone is at least a little bit intrigued by all of that.
5 interesting facts I learned:
- The modern adjective ‘Spartan’, meaning to have an indifference to comforts and luxeries, comes from the lifestyle of the ancient Spartan people.
- Possessions were held in common. This means that if a Spartan needed to borrow dogs or horses for hunting he could borrow his neighbor’s and vice versa.
- Children were considered the equal responsibility of all. A neighbour was just as free to reward or punish a child, as was the child’s own family.
- The upbringing of children was heavy regulated. When a child was born, the newborn would be presented to the elders of their specific tribe where they would judge the strength and physical structure of the child and then decide whether the child would be kept or exposed to the elements and left to die.
- Sparta held games and contests of strength and fitness for men and women alike. The women of Sparta were known to work out and keep fit just like the men, which the other Greek city-states found odd.