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King Leonidas at Thermopylae


(mo-lone lah-veh)

In 480 BC, Xerxes King of Persia (son of Darius who was defeated in a prior attempt to take Greece) had landed in Greece and was in full preparation to invade Athens, the leader of the independent Greek city-states as part of his strategic plan to conquer all of Greece.

King Leonidas of Sparta (left) and another Greek city-state agreed to help stop the invading Persians, and marched with 300 hand-picked troops to Thermopylae on the north coast of Greece. Thermopylae was the best of three possible defensive areas in which Xerxes' invading army had to advance. This mountain gap along the coast was about 60 feet wide, and was the best location for a blocking action. Since the 300 knew they were going to die fighting against overwhelming force the first requirement was that each man had to have a son left behind to take his place.

When Leonidas was preparing to make his stand, a Persian envoy arrived. The envoy explained to Leonidas the futility of trying to resist the advance of the huge Persian army and demanded that the Spartans lay down their arms. Leonidas told Xerxes "MOLON LABE",or "Come And Get Them."

"Our archers are so numerous,"said the envoy, "That the flight of their arrows darkens the sun."

"So much the better,"replied Dienekes, a Spartan warrior, "For we shall fight them in the shade."

After three days of fighting and having killed countless numbers of Xerxes' elite troops, they were finally overrun after being betrayed by a traitor who showed the enemy another pass behind the defenders. King Leonidas and his Spartans were then killed to the last man in a final battle. Xerxes marched on and destroyed Athens.

However, the Spartans gallant defense gave the rest of Greece more time to mobilize and increased their morale and willingness to fight. The Persians now faced an united Greek army and navy, lead by Spartans, that destroyed his fleet at the Straits of Salamis and defeated his army at Plataea. Xerxes eventually withdrew back to Persia.

Today there is a plaque dedicated to those heroes at the site. It reads: "Go tell the Spartans, travelers passing by, that here, obedient to their laws we lie."The point of this true story is when anybody demands you to give up your guns, tell them "MOLON LABE". You may fall in the first fight, but many more will step into your place and a determined and organized people can do anything.

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