Who was Leonidas of Sparta?
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'.