Ancient Greece

Who was Leonidas of Sparta?

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2011-09-13 20:50:51

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Leonidas was the youngest of three children: Dorieus, Cleomenes (or

Kleomenes) and Leonidas, so he was never expected to rise to the

throne, therefore he took part in the agoge, the unique

training of Sparta usually spared from the royal heirs. Dorieus was

born after Cleomenes but was fully legitimate, Cleomenes dealt with

him and gained the throne. He ruled successfully for many years

before going mad and mutilating himself to death. Thus Leonidas

beacame king much to his suprise. He didn't last long. With the

impending attack of Xerxes force on the peloponese, Leonidas

consulted the oracle and got the answer: 'either a king dies at the

walls of Thermoplyae or Sparta falls' a no-brainer really. Leonidas

couldn't take all his army as the ephors refused to allow him to

interrupt Carniea, a festival to Apollo. Leonidas held out for

three days at thrmopylae with 300 Spartans and a collection of men

from thespia, Athens, thebes and however felt like helping

numbering about 7000 in all. In the morning of the second day,

Leonidas sent all but the Thebans home, but the Thespians stayed.

He told them (as features in the feature film) to 'eat a full and

hearty breakfast, for tonight we dine in Hades'.

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