Herodotus and the dating of battle thermopylae

XERXES ACCORDING TO HERODOTUS – Encyclopaedia Iranica

herodotus and the dating of battle thermopylae

Hence Herodotus described Xerxes as possessed by hybris and blind from the very start. . The Greeks took up their defensive positions at the pass of Thermopylae and . Before the battle of Thermopyle, Herodotus once more drew . He gives this event a special indication by dating it to the year when. The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King On the Battle of Thermopylae itself, two principal sources, Herodotus' and Simonides' accounts, survive. .. When at a later date, an army of Gauls led by Brennus attempted to force the pass, the shallowness of the water gave the. Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. Compare the .. Is Herodotus mistaken about the date, or does he find the later date more dramatic? Why should.

It branched, with one path leading to Phocis and the other down to the Malian Gulf at Alpenus, the first town of Locris. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae. At daybreak on the third day, the Phocians guarding the path above Thermopylae became aware of the outflanking Persian column by the rustling of oak leaves.

Thermopylae - The Hellenic Alliance - Extra History - #1

Herodotus says they jumped up and were greatly amazed. While many of the Greeks took him up on his offer and fled, around two thousand soldiers stayed behind to fight and die. Knowing that the end was near, the Greeks marched into the open field and met the Persians head-on. Many of the Greek contingents then either chose to withdraw without orders or were ordered to leave by Leonidas Herodotus admits that there is some doubt about which actually happened.

It is commonly stated that the Spartans were obeying the laws of Sparta by not retreating, but it seems it was actually the failure to retreat from Thermopylae that gave rise to the notion that Spartans never retreated. However, since the prophecy was specific to him, this seems a poor reason to commit 1, other men to a fight to the death.

The most likely theory is that Leonidas chose to form a rearguard so that the other Greek contingents could get away. If they had all remained at the pass, they would have been encircled and would eventually have all been killed. They intended presently, when they had celebrated the Carneian Festival, which was what now kept them at home, to leave a garrison in Sparta, and hasten in full force to join the army.

The rest of the allies intended to act similarly; for it happened that the Olympic Festival fell exactly at this same period. None of them looked to see the contest at Thermopylae decided so speedily; wherefore they were content to send forward a mere advance guard. Such accordingly were the intentions of the allies.

He was convinced that he was going to certain death, which he would not have been if he had thought the forces given him were adequate for a victory. He selected only men who had fathered sons that were old enough to take over the family responsibilities. Plutarch mentions in his Sayings of Spartan Women, that after encouraging her husband before his departure for the battlefield, Gorgo, the wife of Leonidas I asked him what she should do when he had left. To this he replied, "Marry a good man and have good children.

Topography of the battlefield At the time, the pass of Thermopylae consisted of a track along the shore of the Gulf of Malis so narrow that only one chariot could pass through. Along the path was a series of three constrictions, or "gates" pylaiand at the center gate a short wall that had been erected by the Phocians in the previous century to aid in their defense against Thessalian invasions.

Today the pass is not that, but is inland, due to infilling of the Gulf of Malis. The old track appears at the foot of hills around the plain, flanked by a modern road.

It remains a natural defensive position to modern armies. Battle The Battle of Thermopylae and movements to Salamis.

Battle of Thermopylae - Wikipedia

Arrival of the Persians When the Persian army reached the entrance to Thermopylae, the Greeks instigated a council meeting. The Peloponnesians advised withdrawing to the isthmus and defending only the Peloponnesus there.

They knew, of course, that the Persians would have to defeat Athens before they could arrive at the isthmus. The Phocians and Locrians, whose states were located nearby, becoming indignant, advised defending Thermopylae and sending for more help.

Leonidas thought it best to adopt their plan. Meanwhile the Persians entered the pass and sent a mounted scout to reconnoiter. The Greeks allowed him to come up to the camp, observe them and depart. When the scout reported to Xerxes the size of the Greek force, and that the Spartans were indulging in calisthenics and combing their long hair, Xerxes found the reports laughable.

Seeking the counsel of a Greek in his employ, Demaratus, he was told that the Spartans were preparing for battle and that it was their custom to adorn their hair beforehand. They were the bravest men in Greece, he said, and they intended to dispute the pass.

According to another account, he did send emissaries to the Greek forces. At first he asked Leonidas to join him and offered him the kingship of all of Greece. Leonidas answered, "If you knew what is good in life, you would abstain from wishing for foreign things. For me it is better to die for Greece than to be monarch over my compatriots. It is today the emblem of the Greek First Army Corps. Greek morale was high. Herodotus wrote that when Dienekes, a Spartan soldier, was informed that Persian arrows would be so numerous as to blot out the sun, he remarked with characteristically laconic prose, "So much the better, we shall fight in the shade.

Xerxes waited four days for the Greek force to disperse. On the fifth day he ordered the Medes and the Cissians to take them prisoner and bring them before him. Failure of the frontal assault Xerxes sent in the Medes at first perhaps because he preferred them for their bravery or perhaps, as Diodorus Siculus suggested, [26] because he wanted them to bear the brunt of the fighting—the Medes had been only recently conquered by the Persians.

The Medes coming up to take the Greeks prisoner soon found themselves in a frontal assault. The Greeks had camped on either side of the rebuilt Phocian wall. The fact that it was guarded shows that the Greeks were using it to establish a reference line for the battle, but they fought in front of it. Details of the tactics are somewhat scant. The Greeks probably deployed in a phalanx, a wall of overlapping shields and layered spearpoints, spanning the entire width of the pass.

Herodotus says that the units for each state were kept together. The Persians, armed with arrows and short spears, could not break through the long spears of the Greek phalanx, nor were their lightly armored men a match for the superior armor, weaponry, and discipline of the Greek hoplites. And yet there are some indications they did not fight entirely in close formation. They made use of the feint to draw the Medes in, pretending to retreat in disorder only to turn suddenly and attack the pursuing Medes.

In this way they killed so many Medes that Xerxes is said to have started up off the seat from which he was watching the battle three times. According to Ctesias the first wave numbered 10, soldiers and were commanded by Artapanus.

herodotus and the dating of battle thermopylae

The king then withdrew the Medes. Having taken the measure of the enemy, he threw the best troops he had into a second assault: The Immortals, an elite corps of 10, men.

herodotus and the dating of battle thermopylae

On his side, Leonidas had arranged a system of relays between the hoplites of the various cities so as to constantly have fresh troops on the front line. Yet in the heat of the battle the units did not get a chance to rotate. Being able to approach the Greek line only in such numbers as the space allowed, the Immortals succeeded no better than the Medes. Xerxes had to withdraw them also.

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The first day of battle probably ended here. The assault failed again. The account of the slain gives some indication of why: The wall of bodies must have broken up the Persian line and detracted from their morale. History judges them perhaps too harshly. Climbing over the bodies they could see that they had stepped into a killing machine, but the officers behind prevented them from withdrawing.

Battle of Thermopylae

The king at last stopped the assault and withdrew to his camp, totally perplexed. He now knew that a head-on confrontation against Spartan-led troops in a narrow place was the wrong approach. Encirclement of the Greeks Late on the second day of battle, as the king was pondering what to do next, he received a windfall circumstance: A Malian, named Ephialtes, informed him of a path around Thermopylae and offered to guide them.

Ephialtes was motivated by the desire of a reward, though he was later assassinated. The path led from east of the Persian camp along the ridge of Mt. Anopaea behind the cliffs that flanked the pass. It branched, one path leading to Phocis, and the other down to the Gulf of Malis at Alpenus, first town of Locris. Leonidas had stationed Phocian volunteers on the heights to guard this path.

For all their previous indignation and insistence on a defense at Thermopylae, they were not prepared: There were no advance positions, sentinels or patrols. Their first warning of the approach of the Immortals under Hydarnes was the rustling of oak leaves at first light on the third day of the battle. Herodotus says that they "jumped up," suggesting that they were still asleep, and were "greatly amazed," which no alert unit should have been. Hydarnes was as amazed to see them hastily arming themselves.

He feared that they were Spartans, but was enlightened by Ephialtes. Not wishing to be delayed by an assault, Hydarnes resorted to a tactic that later turned out to be the winning one: He fired "showers of arrows" at them. The Phocians retreated to the crest of the mountain, there to make a last stand their story. The Persians branched left to Alpenus.