Was just browsing around, when I found this website on ancient history.
What caught my attention were the details of the historical facts as compared to what was used in the movie "300". Based on Frank Miller's comic book graphics, though most effects seemed surreal and animated, I guess there are some salient points which matched the spirit of history with that of the movie.
“Thermopylae was a pass that the Greeks tried unsuccessfully to defend in battle against the Persians led by Xerxes in 480 B.C. Although the Spartans who led the defense were all killed (and may have known in advance that they would be), their courage provided inspiration to the Greeks, many of whom otherwise might have willingly become part of the Persian Empire. The following year the Greeks did win battles against the Persians.”
The pass of Thermopylae, the actual site.
All the details of the movie seemed to follow historical events, well almost all, except maybe Xerxes. King Xerxes, instead of being bearded and seated at his throne was depicted as a bald, huge and gayish figure, choosing to go to the frontlines rather than be at a distance away from the battlefield. He should've looked like:
this....................... instead of this....................... or this
But then again, a bearded old king on a throne wouldn't make as much of an impact as a Dhalsim look-alike, would it..
"Xerxes' fleet of Persian ships had sailed along the coastline from northern Greece into the Gulf of Malia on the eastern Aegean Sea towards the mountains at Thermopylae. The Greeks faced the Persian army at a narrow pass there that controlled the only road between Thessaly and Central Greece. The Spartan general and king Leonidas in charge of the Greek forces that tried to restrain the vast Persian army and keep them from attacking the rear of the Greek navy (under Athenian control). Leonidas may have hoped to block them long enough that Xerxes would have to sail away for food and water.”
The fact that they were attempting to prevent the attack on the Greek Navy was a little downplayed in the movie. Felt as though they were trying more to be heroic rather than prevent an attack on the Athenians controlling the Greek Navy.
Well, the 300 seemed to be alone at the hot gates to face the Persians. Seemed though that they had an army of 300 pus Thespians and Thebans amounting to close to 7,000 Greeks. Then again, he sent away most of his amassed troops. Probably knew that the Thespians and Thebans were wusses that can't fight.
Leonidas? I think he looks better with the beard.
“Unfortunately for Leonidas, after a couple of days, a medizing traitor named Ephialtes led the Persians around the pass behind the Greek army. The name of Ephialtes' path behind the pass at Thermopylae (which means "hot gates") is Anopaea; its exact location is debated. Leonidas sent away most of the amassed troops.”
Ephialtes was a shepherd and a traitor, but not a deformed figure. Again, its from a comic...
I have to say this looks much much better...
Another observation worth mentioning was the pieces of meat all over the screen. I mean, weren’t hoplites supposed to look like this? Someone give those poor beef some clothes!
I think fitness centres should take some lessons from the Spartans...
"On the third day, Leonidas led his 300 Spartan hoplites (elite troops selected because they had living sons back home) plus the allied Thespians and Thebans against Xerxes and his army of "10,000 Immortals." The Spartan-led forces fought this unstoppable Persian force to their deaths in order to block the pass long enough to keep Xerxes and his army occupied while the rest of the Greek army escaped."
"The Achaemenid Immortals (or Persian Immortals, or simply Immortals) were the Persian elite Imperial Guard regiment during the Greco-Persian Wars. Herodotus describes the Immortals as being heavy infantry led by Hydarnes that were kept constantly in strength of exactly 10,000 men — every killed, seriously wounded or sick member was immediately replaced with a new one, maintaining the cohesion of the unit."
Persian Immortals - heavy infantry, not Japanese, Mexican or Grotesque immortals..
"According to Cartledge, the Spartan Dieneces was so virtuous (aristeia relates to virtue and to the reward given the most honored soldier, which in this battle was Dieneces) that when he was told that there were so many Persian archers that the sky would grow dark with the flying missiles, his laconic reply was: "So much the better -- we shall fight them in the shade." Spartan boys were trained in night raids, so although this was a show of bravery, there was more to it."
Yup....the arrows really did cover the skys.. oh wait, that was in the movie..
"After Leonidas died, there is a story that the Greeks tried to retrieve the corpse in a gesture worthy of the Myrmidons trying to rescue Patroclus in the Iliad XVII, but to no avail. The Thebans surrendered, the Spartans and Thespians retreated and were shot by Persian archers. The body of Leonidas may have been crucified or beheaded on Xerxes' orders. It was retrieved about 40 years later.
Persians, whose naval fleet had already suffered seriously from storm damage, then (or simultaneously) attacked the Greek fleet at Artemisium, with both sides suffering heavy losses. According to Peter Green, the Spartan Demaratus (on Xerxes staff) recommended splitting the navy and sending part to Sparta, but the Persian navy had been too heavily damaged to do so -- fortunately for the Greeks.
In September of 480, aided by northern Greeks, the Persians marched on Athens and burned it to the ground, but it had been evacuated."
Moral of the story, albeit the interesting twist of things, history remains as history. I prefer to look at their sacrifice as something which was worth it, like a cause for saving the rest of the Spartans, rather than as a sign of bravado and heroism. A take home would probably be to choose to be free, to sacrifice rather than to submit. A matching cantonese proverb would be "ling hor sat put hor yuk" which means "I'd rather be killed than be shamed"....
hehe warned u in the title that this was gonna be crappy...