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The Battle of Thermopylae from Herodotus’ the Histories



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    The Battle of Thermopylae, which Herodotus recorded in his writing The Histories, was one of the most arduous and notable battles of western history. Herodotus was an extremely significant historian who lived during the 5th century B. C. In this primary source writing, he portrays how Xerxes was superstitious and tyrannical, how the battle informs you about the Spartan culture, how the values of Greek promoted society, and he displayed how significant the Persian invasion was on Greek development, for example, their political and intellectual expansion.

    The Persian King Xerxes thought he could smoothly invade the Greek mainland, devastating the Greeks because of his army’s prevailing numbers and dominance. Herodotus is exceptionally significant. He collected his materials systematically as well as being exclusively known for writing The Histories, which led him to be known as a great historian of the 5th century B. C. His noble writings, which are recorded in The Histories, have been exceedingly beneficial at helping historians collect and understand knowledge of the western world.

    His well-constructed descriptions of the Greek and Persian war have given us a vivid picture of what went on during these strenuous wars. For example, as Xerxes leads his troops into Greece he asks a native Greek if they are ready to put up a fight? The native replies, “…Brave are all the Greeks who dwell in any Dorian land; but what I am about to say does not concern all, but only the Lacedaemonians. First then, come what may, they will never accept thy terms, which would reduce Greece to slavery; and further, they are sure to join battle with thee, though all the rest of the Greeks should submit to thy will.

    As for their numbers, do not ask how many they are, that their resistance should be a possible thing; for if a thousand of them should take the field, they will meet thee in battle, and so will any number, be it less than this, or be it more. ” This boy is saying that the number of soldiers does not make a difference, which it is the pride and determination that will be the factor in prevailing over the Persians. Herodotus’s superb writings help explain these war dealings in detail, which can warn of the indomitable Spartans and the overconfident Persians.

    Overall, Herodotus has created The Histories, a magnificent token of western history; the famous battles of the Greeks and Persians, will always be remembered because of Herodotus’s brilliant elucidations. There are several incidents in the primary source, which portray Xerxes as being superstitious and oppressive. He is very irrational pertaining to many of the examples in the primary source; he states that the Greeks “have so foolish a manner of warfare. ” He is blind at seeing how determined the Spartans are at winning, which is very illogical and stubborn of him not knowing his enemies strengths.

    The incident when Xerxes says, “Let them be five thousand, and we shall have more than a thousand men to each one of theirs. If, indeed, like our troops, they had a single master, their fear of him might make them courageous beyond their natural bent; or they might be urged by lashes against an enemy which far outnumbered them. But left to their own free choice, assuredly they will act differently” This occurrence portrays Xerxes cruel and tyrannical control over his troops. this also displays Xerxes belief that the more men he has, the more prevailing his army will be.

    At the same time, Xerxes is illogical at recognizing the Greeks brave and strapping ability to fight collectively. The events of the battle help inform you about the Spartan culture and lifestyle. The Spartan way of life exemplified that the society had a great deal of authority, which stressed young men to start training for the military and become obedient individuals. The Spartans performed numerous strenuous physical actives, as well as keeping up a healthy and well balanced diet, which would soon pay off if they ever had to go to war.

    Demaratus says to Xerxes, “…So likewise the Lacedaemonians, when they fight singly, are as good men as any in the world, and when they fight in a body, are the bravest of all…Law is the master whom they own; and this master they fear more than thy subjects fear thee. Whatever he commands they do; and his commandment is always the same: it forbids them to flee in battle, whatever the number of their foes, and requires them to stand firm, and either to conquer or die. In the Spartan culture the men were forced to be brave, in which they must follow the law that commands them to fight or die for their culture. Overall, the Spartan culture created the most physically fit and well-trained soldiers, which was shown at their brave and victorious battle of Thermopylae.

    Herodotus’ narrative promoted many values of the Greek society. Demaratus says “…there is no other nation in all the world which will venture to lift a hand in their defence. Thou hast now to deal with the first kingdom and town in Greece, and with the bravest men. The people of Greece value their freedom with a great deal of bravery, as well as their laws that promote such a strong and devoted military. At the same time, they value their wellness, along with the moral values of what is right and wrong. In general, his narrative promotes the Greek society for having great obedience and courage. The Persian invasion was exceptionally significant on the Greek’s political and intellectual development. After the Greeks defeated the Persians, they stepped in to provide new leadership against the Persians.

    This was the arrangement of a confederation, which was called the Delian League. The Athenians favored an innovative imperial policy, when an aristocrat named Pericles started to play an important role in politics. Athens wanted to expand their democracy, at the same time, increase and develop its empire into other countries. Overall, the Persian invasions affected the Greeks political and intellectual development, which united with the growing popular imperialism abroad, and their continued quest for democracy.

    By and large, the battle of Thermopylae from Herodotus’ The Histories was an extremely notable and remarkable battle for the history of the west, as well as the world. Herodotus’ magnificent writing have vividly explained one of the most exceptional battles, in addition to showing the world the incredible Greek society, and the ever so powerful Spartan army. Great knowledge can be gained from studying and reading about this great battle. For example, we have learned that you don’t always win with the number of men, but with the bravery and willpower to overcome any obstacle.

    The Battle of Thermopylae from Herodotus’ the Histories. (2017, Feb 25). Retrieved from

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