Xerxes, ruler of the Persian Empire, spent the first decade of his regnancy bringing together the largest army and navy that the ancient world had ever seen by putting his years of military study to good use as he carefully devised every facet of his assault against the Greeks. It looked as though the small flame that was Greece would be snuffed out in its infancy, and it very well might have, if it had not been for the Spartans. The Spartans were the greatest warriors in the history of Greece due to their rigorous and lifelong training. In addition, the Spartans benefited immensely from their knowledge of Greece’s topography and their mastering of phalanx warfare. All of these skills were put to good use as they effectively halted the Persian advance at Thermopylae and stopped them at Plataea, allowing Greece to remain a free country.
In the year 480 B.C. an imposing army began moving out of Asia Minor with its eyes set on Europe across the Bosporus. Their leader was Xerxes I, and he had a vendetta against the minuscule polis laden country that would become Greece. His army was diverse and contained men from nearly every corner of the ancient world including Egypt, Scythia, Babylon, Libya, India, tribes from lower Russia, and several Greek cities; all of which beckoned to his call for arms. Xerxes mission was straightforward; eradicate the Greeks, especially the cities of Sparta and Athens for shaming his father Darius in open conflict ten years prior. He marched with a purpose, not letting anything or anyone get in the way or stop his army of nearly a quarter million men from reaching their goal. This armed force was a blend of men from various nations who knew many fighting styles but knew little of how the Greeks made war. They had heard tales from the survivors of Marathon where the Athenian Greeks and their Plataean allies stopped and ferociously beat back Darius’s assault against Athens. Of the 30,000 Persian soldiers that shuttled off their boats onto the plains of Marathon that afternoon, 6,500 would never come home and countless others were maimed by the Greeks who only accrued 192 casualties. 
How it all Began
Before the Persians ever set foot on Greek soil, problems were arising across the Aegean. The Greek colonies in Ionia, who were subjugated by Darius, were revolting against the ever-expanding Persian Empire. The early happenings of the conflict boded well for the Greeks. They won several naval battles and then marched inland and sacked the provincial capital of Sardis. However, in 494 BC, the tables turned and the Greeks were subjected to setback after setback as the weight of the Persian war machine slowly wore them down. The Greek fleet was soundly defeated off the island of Lade, and the Greek stronghold of Miletus was also taken, effectively ending the revolt. Once everything inside his empire was stable, Darius turned his attention to mainland Greece where punishment would be wrought upon the cities of Athens and Eretria for helping their comrades. For the next five years there were almost no large scale battles, but both sides took this time to begin preparing their armaments for the impending conflict.
Darius sent two of his best generals, Artaphernes of Sardis and Datis the Mede, along with a combined force of 30,000 infantry and cavalry to punish Athens and Eretria. Their flotilla was capable and the Greeks would have surely known of its existence. Large fleets coming from Asia Minor and then moving north to Macedonia were fairly commonplace, so it is likely that no one was alarmed by it. No doubt the Greeks wished they would have kept a more watchful eye to the East, for Darius was on the move. In his book Persian Fire, Thomas Holland stated,
Darius’s anger burned over the news of the loss of Sardis, and day after day, it was rumored, year after year, every time that Darius sat down at his table to eat, a servant would whisper softly in his ear, ‘Master, remember the Athenians’.
It must have been a source of pride for the Athenians to know that their name was uttered daily from the inner courts of Persepolis, the capital of the Persian Empire. 
Artaphernes and Datis arrived in Greek waters and moved first to Eretria, burned it to the ground, enslaved its populace, and progressed on to Athens. However, the Athenians did something unexpected. They had marched 30 kilometers west to the fields known as Marathon and were patiently waiting on the Persians to depart from their boats. This was in stark contrast to the Eretrians who moved behind the walls of their city and refused to fight on the open field, giving Datis the time and advantage he needed. After five days of fighting, the city was taken. Beforehand, The Athenians sent a runner to Sparta, which was about 225 kilometers away, begging for help. The Spartans were in the middle of a religious festival known as the Carneia and could not leave the city to offer aid. Still, they promised to send aid after their ceremonies culminated. The 10,000 Athenians and their 1,000 Plataean allies were on their own with no cavalry to counter the Persians horsemen, but Miltiades (the General selected for the Athenian defense) had a plan. It is important to note that Persia, at this point in history, had never been defeated by a hoplite army in the open field. So the Greeks, who certainly knew this actuality all too well, devised a plan where they could use their infantry to its full potency. Miltiades learned that there would be a window of time where the Persian cavalry would be away from the main body of infantry and he chose that time to attack. The Greek army marched as one and ran the entire mile to meet their foes, slamming into the middle of the lightly armored Persians and wheeling both flanks around to encompass the Persians on three sides. The results were catastrophic for the Persians, who broke ranks on all fronts, fleeing back toward the Aegean and the safety of their boats.
The battle on the beach ended but the Greeks soon realized that their precious city of Athens was in jeopardy. Boats carrying the Persian cavalry bolted around the peninsula and were on their way to sack the helpless city. Miltiades roused his tired men and they ran the entire 26 miles back to Athens. This particular distance would become our modern day marathon race, derived from the Greeks flight from the Plains of Marathon to the rescue of Athens. Thoroughly exhausted, the Greeks arrived just as the Persian crafts were entering the bay. The boats sat ominously anchored in the harbor throughout the day, not moving until sunset and then departing east as darkness began to overpower the waning rays of light. The Greek victory at Marathon was certainly a remarkable military success for them. Likewise, it was just as terrible a loss for the Persians. It had little to do with the loss of his men, for Darius had nearly unlimited men at his disposal, but it assuredly dented the ego of Persian’s military prowess. Persia was not accustomed to anyone standing up to them, and Greece would become a wound that would fester and scar the mind of King Darius, even to his death in 486 BC. His son Xerxes I would take the reins of the largest empire in the ancient world and he would do so with an enormous grudge against the free men of Greece. Over the next six years, Xerxes or the “Great King”, as he would come to be recognized built the largest military host in the history of the ancient world. He would bring this force full circle against the “barbarians across the water.” Herodotus, would write his account of this conflict in his Histories, and name them the Persian Wars.
Marathon was a critical juncture in the way the world progressed. If the Greeks would have yielded, history would have been changed dramatically on a variety of levels and democracy, as modern people know it, may never have come into being. The day after the battle, the Spartans arrived, having marched in full armor for three straight days and having covered approximately 140 miles. They witnessed 6,400 dead and remarked “The Athenians have done well” and simply went back home. The Greeks quickly realized that this would not be their last confrontation with the Persians. Themistocles, one of the gallant leaders of Athens, began to persuade his countrymen that they needed to immediately build a navy, because an attack was imminent. He was right.
The Persian Empire
The Persian Empire was at its peak as the Greco-Persian Wars began. Persia is derived from the Greek and Latin word ‘Parsa’, and was probably referred to as the Achaemenid Empire by the Greeks during this time. Ernle Bradford in his book Thermopylae: the Battle for the West, described the domain of the Persians as “a concentration of military and political power such as the ancient world had never known before.”  The origins of the this vast empire can be traced to Cyrus the Great who conquered the remnants of the Babylonian Empire, Media, and Assyria by successfully weaving together much of Asia Minor and the Central Asian steppes within the sixth century B.C. Cyrus died in 530 B.C. and was survived by his son Cambyses II , who ruled for eight years but died on a return trip from a successful campaign in Egypt. His death would significantly change the course of Persian history, especially in the case of the monarchy. Cambyses II supposed brother Bardiya took the throne in 522 B.C. but his reign would be short lived since he was deposed within a year of his ascension to rulership. A Persian noble named Darius took this opportunity to seize power and did so quickly and effectively. Other nobles from different provinces tried the same tactic but Darius and his alliance of generals plus their combined Mede, Persian, and Armenian forces were able to quell the rebellion and Darius effectively retained power.
Darius ruled thirty-six years and died shortly after his defeat at Marathon, transfering power to his son Xerxes I. He was not the first born son of his father but he was an obvious favorite since his mother Atossa was one of the daughters of Cyrus the Great and one of the most well known women in the empire. In his book Persian Fire, Tom Hollland described Xerxes as, “both in stature and in the nobility of his bearing, there is no man who appeared more suited to the wielding of power.” Inheriting an enormous empire was not an easy feat but Xerxes took it all in stride. He immedietly began to muster warriors from all across his empire, adding men to his ranks from every corner of his dominion. 
Gathering of the Army
Xerxes sent riders to all the reaches of his empire and demanded their aid in his expedition against the Greeks. Holland descibed the soldiers that made their way to the capital city of Persopolis armed for war as:
Indians in their cotton dhotis, with their tall bows made of cane; Ethiopians draped in Leopard skins, armed with arrows tipped with stone; Moschians wearing wooden helmets; Thracians with fox skins wrapped around their heads; Cissians in turbans; Assyrians in linen corselelts wielding their studded clubs. 
There also were Bactrians, Parthians, and Chromasmians who added short bows and spears. The Scythians, famous for their chariots, also brought along a host of Sacae warriors, who fought with daggers, bows, and monsterous battle axes. Most of the men under Xerxes regime were armed with little more than daggers, felt tunics, and wicker shields. These armaments were perfect for putting down unrest in the deserts but straw shields would be useless in stopping the iron headed spears of the Greeks. Throughout the campaign this would cause considerable frustration for the Persian force. Ultimately there were forty-six nations under thirty Persian generals who answered directly to six chief marshals; five of these men were sons of the Great King. How these generals and marshals were able to keep this vast multicultural army together and operate them effectively is still somewhat of a mystery.
As the troops were beginning to assemble, Xerxes sought council from a variety of sources and he accepted two different strategies on how Greece could be conquered. Mardonius, a nephew and son-in-law of Darius, proposed that only elite fighters be sent; Persians themselves should lead the fight to the Greek doorstep. He proposed a strikeforce that would be able to move rapidly, outpace their foes, and overwhelm the heavy infantry of the Greeks in the same way they had in Ionia. Xerxes was not in favor of this plan arguably because of ego. He wished to personally lead the invasion and a small force simply would not show the true grandeur of the Persian Empire that he commanded . 
The Mardonius Plan sounded wonderful theoretically, but there were many factors that were too miniscule for the Great King to worry himself with. These would have caused terrible problems for his commissariat. One such issue would be the language barrier. Not everyone in the empire spoke the same language much less the same dialect. Another problem Xerxes advisors encountered was how to get such a large army to their destination in Greece. Boats were out of the question, for there was no such fleet that could carry that many men. A land route would have to be taken. These roads would have to go right through the heart of Thrace and Macedonia, not easy country in which to navigate, much less build highways through. Food became another concern. It is not at all surprising that Xerxes took the four years after the death of Darius to formulate his plan. He would need nearly that many harvests in order feed his men. In addition, a major problem was the Hellespont which was the small channel that separated Northern Greece from modern day Turkey. There was no way around it and a bridge would have to be built. Xerxes set out to find the greatest engineers with the best knowledge of how to span bodies of water and placed them together in a team, with their primary objective being the crossing of the Hellespont.
Crossing of the Hellespont
The first two feats that Xerxes would encounter were not human enemies but natural ones. The Hellespont would be difficult for his army to cross. However, his navy would have to stay near the coast to supply the troops. They previously had trouble with the storms that occurred around the Greek islands and many ships could potentially be lost against the rocky coast. Xerxes knew this first hand since his father Darius had the same dilemma a decade before and he did not want a repeat of past events to occur under his reign. So he posed a revolutionary idea. He had his engineers devise a plan to dig a canal across the isthmus of Mount Athos, thus allowing ships to pass through and bypass the treacherous waters. Bradford quotes Herodotus who explained:
Mount Athos is very well known and stands out into the sea. It is inhabited, and on the landward side where the heights end there is a kind of isthmus roughly a mile and half wide. All of this is level land or a small hillocks — The inhabitants [ of the mountain] Xerxes now intended to turn into islanders.
He did just that; he conscripted Greeks from the neighboring cities and used them as his brute labor force while bringing along Phoenicians , who were some of the most technologically advanced people in the ancient world and fantastic seafarers, from Asia Minor to facilitate the digging of the canal. When the canal was completed two ships could fit side by side along the two and a half kilometer trench that ran along the base of the mountain. Lindsay Allen in her book The Persian Empire suggested that “Xerxes victory over this landscape may have been more symbolic than practical.” It was customary during this age to simply drag ships across isthmuses using large ropes. Xerxes decided that he would impose his dominance on nature itself by having a route cut through Mount Athos; this would symbolize his determination to not have anyone or anything stand in his way.
The Hellespont proved to be a challenge for the Great King. Crossing it would be difficult but the time it saved for his invasion was invaluable. Creating a bridge from Abysdos on the Turkish coast across to Sestos on the European side, a 1400 yard gap, was no easy feat but again the engineers of the Persian Empire came through magnificently. They built two bridges supported between 674 biremes and triremes, which were used as floating platforms for planks to be laid across. The troops then should have been able to cross these with little difficulty but as fate would have it, a storm arose and completely destroyed the makeshift bridge. Xerxes was furious over the audacity of the Hellespont and that it did not obey his wishes; so in true tyranical fashion, he had all the engineers killed and ordered several of his men to give the body of water three-hundred lashes and a pair of fetters be thrown into the sea, making it appear as a common criminal. Xerxes allegedly ordered the men lashing the channel to proclaim:
You salt and bitter current, your master inflicts this punishment upon you for doing harm to him, who never harmed you. Nevertheless Xerxes the King will cross you with or without your permission. No man makes sacrifices to you, and for this neglect you deserve your neglect because of your salty and dirty water.
The second try at bridging the Hellespont was credited to a Greek Engineer named Harpalus. He, along with several Phoenician and Ionian technicians, designed the bridge with anchors to keep it steady even if a small gale arose. Cables made of flax and papyrus were twisted together and tied from ship to ship to hold them en masse. On the second attempt the bridge stood firm and Xerxes prouldly traversed with his army. The crossing of the Hellespont took about a week for the armies and supplies to cross but it was well worth it for Xerxes, who was feeling more and more confident about his endeavor.
After the Hellespont had been conquered, Xerxes moved his forces through Thrace. The city states and tribes of this region were almost completely loyal to Xerxes, so he found little resistance to his invasion. In fact, many of these settlements were all too happy to help the massive Persian army. However, Xerxes would soon realize that not everyone would receive his army with joy. Upon sending emissaries to Athens, his ambassadors were apparently thrown into the “pit”, which was a place for condemned criminals. The Spartans, true to their fashion, are rumored to have thrown the ambassadors of Xerxes into a well, explaining to them that they could ” find earth and water for their king from down there.” The practice of giving earth and water was a symbol of peace and submission when a foe yielded to an enemy. Whether either of these stories is true is debatable, chiefly because heralds were universally accepted as inviolable but with the Spartan mindset of superiority stories such as these are not at all out of the question.
Xerxes had a large army but it is unknown as to the exact number of men who crossed the Hellespont and descended on Greece. Herodotus estimated the force at 1.7 million men. This number added to the navy and ship-borne warriors and Greek allies produced a sum of 2.6 million men, an amount that Herodotus figured would have been doubled to account for servants, crews, some families, and camp followers. These numbers are almost certainly fluffed, for Herodotus was born four years after the Persian Wars and did not have firsthand knowledge of the size of the army. It is estimated that the army that followed the banner of Xerxes was somewhere between 100,000 to 300,000 men. Interestingly enough, it is recorded that this army was large enough to drink small rivers dry.
The Persians marched through Greece in spectacular order. The front of their procession contained about half of the army followed by a large gap, which kept the common soldiers from nearing the king. This was followed by 1,000 of Persia’s finest horsemen, 1,000 hand picked spearmen carrying their spears upside down, ten sacred horses, a holy chariot drawn by eight horses, and then Xerxes chariot. Following behind the king’s chariot were 1000 spearmen carrying their spears upright, 1000 cavalry, 10,000 infantry ( many of which were adorned with gold and silver jewelry and ornaments), and 10,000 more horsemen before a large gap and then finally the second half of the army brought up the rear.
This army lumbered through Northern Greece, gathering groups of allies and bribing any resistance along the way. The force had made it through Thessaly with little problem and was getting quite close to their first target, the city of Athens. It was entirely possible that Xerxes never intended to fight the Greeks at all. In fact, he had little respect for the tiny nation and may have fully assumed that they would cower in the face of his magnificient army. Nevertheless, the army ran into a quandry. The only path that allowed them into the Peloponnesian, or Southern Greece, was a small rocky pass known as Thermopylae that bordered the ocean on their left side and Mount Kallidromos shadowed them on their right. The pass was fairly wide in parts but it narrowed deeper down the passage way to about fourteen yards. Here King Xerxes would receive his first taste of what the free men of Greece could accomplish and they would show him just how strong their resolve was to keep their freedom. When his army arrived, they met a holding force of several thousand Greek warriors led by the Spartan King Leonidas. History was about to be made on a small trail in Southern Greece.
The Spartans, along with an abundance of other rebellious Greek Polis, were well aware of the nearing Persian army and a plan was in the works to try and thwart their advance. Up to this point in history the Greek states had never been in allegiance over anything, including warfare . However, the realization that their annihilation was not only a possibility but also a probablilty, forced them to action. Themistocles of Athens had been encouraging his fellow Grecians since the departure of Darius, a decade earlier, to strengthen their navy. Finally, when he was promoted to general, Themistocles used his new military powers to sway the people into investing money, which was being siphoned from a new silver vein found in Cape Sunium, to be used for vessels of war and a new fortified harbor placed at Peiraeus. By the time the Persians arrived over 200 new ships were built with citizens trained as seamen. Additionally, over forty older boats were re-armed and re-fitted for service. Themistocles knew that without a strong navy Greece would be overun.
The Greek Fleet
The Trireme, which was the warship employed by both fleets during the Persian Wars, was an interesting piece of maritime technology. Developed as the basic fighting ship for Classical Age fleets and named for its three banks of oars and powered by between 170-200 rowers, the Trireme was built for speed. Additionally, they carried sails when cruising and they sat very low in the water; this helped the ship obtain great speeds over short distances if needed. The bow of the ship was capped with a bronze ram that was used to pierce and sink enemy ships. When close enough to an enemy vessel, hoplite spearmen (normally a squadron of twenty) would board an enemy ship and attempt to overtake its crew. A typical Trireme was between 98-115 feet long and 20-22 feet wide.  Herodotus claimed that the Persian fleet had 1207 vessels, with another 3000 smaller lighter vessels joining them. This numerical fact is probably skewed (for the number seems too large) and it is generally settled on that the Persian fleet had between 600 to 900 Triremes. Even so the Persian fleet would dwarf the Greek fleet, which would struggle to field 250 vessels.
The way the Greeks fought battles was drastically different from that of the Persians. Times had changed and the every-man-for-himself style of warfare had melted away into a more orderly style of fighting known as the phalanx. Hoplites were the primary soldiers of this formation. The Hoplite, named after their shield the hoplon, was a citizen militia that was called up to defend their homes when conflicts arose. They were traditionally a heavily armed soldier clad in a bronze helmet. A bronze chest plate that weighed 30 to 40 pounds and was about an inch and a half thick, connected at the shoulder and curving out at the hips to protect the chest and vital organs. The thighs were protected by the shield and bronze greaves covered the lower legs.  The shield was the key to the effectiveness of the hoplite. Made of different species of wood, the round, concave, yard-wide shield was coated in bronze and held by an armstrap and handgrip . In its entirety, Hoplite armor could weight up to 70 pounds . Each warrior carried a six to eight- foot iron-tipped spear made of ash or cornel wood that had a bronze butt-spike at the end of the shaft allowing the hopilite to strike with both ends of his spear; many carried an additonal spear if the first were to break. In addition, each man wielded a short sword as an auxiliary weapon if the spears were to splinter. In his book Arms and Armour of the Greeks, Anthony Snodgrass describes the sword as:
Both the cutting edge and the back were convex, weighting the weapon heavily towards the tip; the hilt had a handguard and a pommel which projected on the cutting side only, and was frequently shaped like a sitting bird with a head serving as a pommel. 
Hoplite spearmen would group together in a formation known as the phalanx. This innovative company would change the face of ancient warfare. Bruce Thorton, author of the book Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization, had this to say about the phalanx :
The hoplites were put into rows, usually eight shields deep, but some times as many as fifty, the shield of one man overlapping that of the man to his right like scales on a reptile, with the spears of the first three rows projecting beyond the front line.
The group would march forward and slam into whatever force opposed them. In the book The World of the Ancient Greeks, John Camp and Elizabeth Fisher described the results of phalanx warfare as “looking like an armed rugby scrum, with a great deal of massed pushing and shoving until one side gave way to the other.” These fights would be gruesome. Thorton stated:
Inches away from their enemies faces, the front lines grappled and jabbed and stabbed while their comrades in the lines behind leaned into their shields and shoved forward, trampling and stabbing the fallen wounded with the butt spike. The men in the front fought with their spears, if they still had them, or used their swords to stab the enemy wherever he was vulnerable-in his face and neck, or under his shield in the belly or the groin. The struggling hoplites wrestled, pushed, scratched, yanked hair and beards, gouged, tripped, did anything possible to carve a gap in the opposing lines and break its cohesion. Eventually one side would throw down their shields and run, thus ending the battle.
The phalanx proved to be a valuable way of making war for the Greeks but it wasn’t without it’s downfalls. The shield covered the right side of the body quite well but the left was vulnerable to attack; thus, the soldiers would pack in as close as possible to cover each other which offered optimal protection for one another. Working as a team went well for the hoplites when everyone participated but when one man gave up, everyone was in danger. Another problem was the lack of mobility. The phalanx moved as one; therefore, they turned as one also. Flanks were always a problem for this formation, so skilled generals would use the terrain to avoid being overun from the side or behind.
It is quite interesting to note that the Greeks rarely used bowmen during the Classical Age. They thought that it was much more honorable to fight face to face. The bow was mostly used for hunting and did not appear much in Grecian warfare for a few more years, although there are sporatic accounts of various battles containing pockets of Greek archers but they were of little significance to the overall influence of the conflict.  Another note of interest is the lack of cavalry in the Greek world. Horsemen were generally used as scouts or raiders but there was little place for them in a full scale battle. Philip Sidnell, author of Warhorse: Cavalry in the Ancient World touches on the problem with horses in Classical Greece by stating:
Several things limited the role of cavalry and subordinated it to the hopilites. The first was the terrain. Much of mainland Greece consists of rugged, rocky mountains with little rainfall for much of the year. Those areas of good fertile ground that existed were needed for agriculture, so there was little good pastureland for the grazing of a large number of horses.
Persia was quite different, it had open lands and horses were a large part of many of the diverse civilizations. Sidnell goes on to say:
The second limiting factor, partly derived from the first was the great expense of raising horses and developing suitable breeds for war. To give some idea of the financial constraints, the average price of a cavalry horse at Athens in the mid fourth century BC was around 500 drachma; the average price of a house was a little over 400 drachma. Additionally, each cavalryman carried the same tariff as eight light infantrymen or four hoplites. As citizens had to provide their own equipment for most of the period, clearly only the wealthiest could afford to serve as cavalry.
As the Greeks began to muster their forces for war, they did so without the advantage of having various military units at their disposal. To win, they would have to bank on the strength of their phalanx and courage of their soldiers if they were to repel the massive Persian advance. The Greeks would have to unite together or fall separately.
Sparta was without a doubt the premium society in ancient Greece when it came to the art of making war. Their society was completely obsessed with war and the honor that it could bring to them. When a Spartan mother gave birth to a boy, it was brought before the Gerousia (council of old men) and inspected, bathed in wine, and checked for any blemish or adverse affect to the wine. If something was found, the baby was left to die on a cliff face outside of Sparta. Around age seven or eight, the boys were taken from their mothers and put into a group where they would be taught discipline.This agoge (long-term military boarding school) was where boys would quickly transform to men and learn the ways of the soldier. These practices were brutal and involved horrific beatings on the boys if they were disobedient. The boys slept on a bed of reeds that they made themselves; however, they were not allowed to use a knife to cut the reeds, it had to be done by hand. Rations were kept very low and stealing was encouraged, but harsh punishments were laid out if the young man was caught. This taught the Spartan to be resourceful. Nearly everything was done together since teamwork was quite valuable to the Spartans. Men would live together in a barracks, eat every meal together, and train hours upon hours a day as a unit. Upon reaching their twentieth birthday, Spartan males were permitted to marry and, they were not allowed to live with their wives until well after the age of thirty. Between the ages of twenty to sixty, a Spartan male was required by the state to serve as an active soldier. However, when he turned sixty he could no longer be drafted during wartime and was given the opportunity to serve in the council.
Society in Sparta was vastly different from many of the other Greek societies of its day. For instance, Spartan men were not allowed to farm, work in business, or do anything other than be a warrior for the state. All of the agriculture and business dealings were done by helots. Named after the coastal city of Helos, these were people that Sparta had enslaved over their centuries of conquering. They would serve as the main workforce, having little to no rights, and did most of the menial labor. In addition to the helots, there were the periokoi, which means those who live around; they were free, but had limited rights. These two groups of people would take care of what the Spartans owned, allowing them to focus on their training and discipline.
The famed Spartan training and the rugged disciplines that accompanied it were attributed to a man named Lycurgus. Nothing is known of Lycurgus or if he truly was a man. It is more likely that he was a myth or a deity than anything else. However, the fact remains that about two centuries before the Persian invasion, the Spartans had already developed a rock solid set of rules that separated them from all other Greek civilizations.
Women in Spartan society were quite distinguished as well. Like the men, they also participated in the rigors of physical activitiess such as, running, wrestling, and overall endurance building excercises. Women, were also versed in choral training which complimened the formal education that they received. As a result, women of Sparta were not shadowed and hidden like many Grecian women. When there husbands were at war, Spartan women were more than capable of handling the family estates. Still, the greatest honor that a woman in Spartan society could achieve was to give birth to a warrior.
Government in Sparta was also quite unique compared to the other Greek cities. Sparta had two kings that would serve simultaneously. Both kingships were hereditary, attributing their lineage from two ancient families that were thought to have descended from the Greek hero Hercules. This arrangement of power, reminiscent of the dual consuls in the Roman Republic, allowed for one king to always travel with the army while the other governed the affairs at home. Five Ephors (people elected by the general citizen assembly) oversaw many of the political issues in Sparta and also had the power to veto if need be. Furthermore, there was a council of twenty-eight elders who made nearly all of the decisions for the city. Bradford describes the government as “an astonishing compendium of almost every kind of government from monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy to democracy was unique. Other Greeks, who were always engaged in trying out one or other system, usually with great bitterness and bloodshed, just could not understand how such a ramshackle affair could work.” This system worked favorably for Sparta, applying checks and balances where needed and creating a solid govermental foundation for its people. During the time of the invasion by Xerxes, Leonidas and Leotychidas were the two kings of Sparta. Both were newly elected and both were suspected of gaining their prestige through treachery. Nevertheless, the task of defending Sparta fell squarely upon their shoulders.
Leonidas was brought into the kingship in 490 B.C. He was the ideal candidate for eminence after the death of his half- brother Cleomenes I. Leonidas was married to Cleomenes eldest daughter Gorgo, effectively sealing his ascension to the throne. Leonidas, (meaning “Lion-like” or “Lion’s Son”) became a staunch opponent of all things Persian, especially King Xerxes and his invasion. When word reached Sparta about the Persian advance down the coast, Leonidas fiercly advocated that action must be made quickly if Greece were to survive the onslaught.
The Greeks convened a conference in order to create a Panhellenic defense. Two different ideas were brought forth. The first was to build a wall across the Isthmus of Corinth but it would only protect Southern Greece; the northern cities would be helpless. Leonidas suggested that an army be sent immedietly to Thermopylae. It was the best chance of checking the Persian advance or at least delaying them. The combined Greek navies would have to use this small window of time to draw the Persians into a decisive sea battle. Leonidas knew that picking Thermopylae would bottle up Xerxes’ troops and allow the heavily armed hoplites to use their phalanx and long spears to its full potency. It was settled upon and Themistokles took control of the navy and sailed to Artemisium while Leonidas hand-picked 300 men, all of whom had male heirs, and marched north to hold the pass at Thermopylae.
As it had happened ten years prior, the Spartans were about to engage in their holy festival the Carneia and could not send out their full army. However, they recognized the gravity of the situation and allowed Leonidas to leave, despite the fact that it would go against their customs. The intent would be to gain allies along the way and Leonidas would have to do so if he had any hope of putting up a fight against the Persians. Interestingly enough, due to the nature of their training and relatively low birth rate, Sparta could only field a standing army of about 8000 men. Even with a full force, they still would be completely undermanned against the Persians.
Battle of Thermopylae
The Spartans immedietly took off across the southern Peloponesian. Leonidas had his Spartans marched at the front of the procession. They were easily recognized by their feathered Corinthian helmets and their scarlet capes.Leonidas hoped that they would inspire other Greeks to join the conflict. However, not as many men joined the army as Leonidas had expected. Upon reaching the outskirts of Thermopylae he had amassed an army of about 5,000 men. It certainly was not much but it would it would have to suffice.
Upon arrival at Thermopylae, the Spartans and their Mycenean, Tegean, Thespian, and Theben allies found the pass unoccupied and quickly began to make fortifications. Next, Leonidas commanded a scorched earth policy, bringing all the avaliable supplies into the village of Alpeni, which would serve as the headquarters of his operation. With the Greek fleet blocking any supplies from coming south along the coast and Leonidas and his men destroying everything nearby, Xerxes and his men would suffer if rations did not hold out.
The Persian army arrived after the Spartans and both sides took this time to size up the opposition. A Persian scout reconnoitered the Spartan camp and was astonished to find the Spartans doing exercises together naked and grooming their bodies for battle. This was astonishing to the Persian scout and he quickly reported back the vanity he had just witnessed to King Xerxes. Additionally, terms were given to the Spartans if they would surrender their arms. Leonidas defiantly responded in Spartan fashion: “Molon Labe”; “come and get them”. Xerxes was not impressed by the Spartans nor was he fearful of them. He had, what he considered, a foolproof plan for defeating his enemy. Demaratus, a former king of Sparta, had joined with the Persians a few years earlier hoping to re-take Sparta and save it from annihilation through diplomacy with the Persians. He became invaluable for Xerxes as a liaison for Greek culture, especially that of Spartiates. 
Xerxes waited several days for his full force to assemble. He wanted the Greeks to see just how massive his army truly was. With all of his men moving into position, Xerxes undoubtedly expected the Greeks to flee. In any case, rations were running low and Xerxes officials surely began to worry. They encouraged the Great King to begin the attack. By the fifth day, Xerxes was irate that these few Greeks had defied his will. Truth be told, Xerxes did not fully realize the tactical advantage that the Greeks held and he ordered his men to assault the enemy position frontally. The Persians were not trained for this style of fighting. Their cavalry was useless in the tight pass and the famed Persian archers could not place arrows into the Greek position due to the rock walls that surrounded their locality. Nevertheless, Xerxes sent in his first wave of troops consisting of Medes and Cissians. Bradford had this to say about the Medes,
They were commanded by Tigranes the Achaemenid. They wore dome-shaped helmets of hammered bronze or iron, a jacket of fish-scale mail with a sleeved embroidered tunic over it, long trousers, and carried light wicker shields. Their arms consisted of short spears, a dagger, and bows with a quiver full of short arrows.
The Medes marched toward the line of gleaming bronze arranged into a hedgehog of bristling spears. The Spartans led the Greek resistance. Bradford quotes Herodotus stating “The Medes charged and in the ensuing struggle many of them fell; but others took their place, and in spite of savage losses they refused to give up.” Without the ability to use their bows affectively and lacking room to maneuver or scale the cliffs, the Medes rushed straight at the Greeks spears. The Medes were brave men indeed but they were easy targets for the bronze-clad professional killers. Holland declares,
The Spartans employed their spearheads and swords to eviscerate, and their skill in fighting close to their enemies was a thing of horror to their fellow Greeks. Now in the hellish closeness of the Hot Gates, the Medes learned to share in that dread. Those who fell did so with gaping wounds; those still on their feet found themselves soused with blood, slithering over entrails, stumbling over the growing piles of the dead.
The Greeks, particularly the Spartans, fought as men possessed. They butchered the Medes that were assaulting their lines. However, as the day dragged on, the Greeks were becoming increasingly tired. Leonidas understood this and constantly substituted fresh soldiers in and out of the thick of battle. This gave them a chance to take off their armor, drink some water, and bandage their wounds. 
The Greeks decimated the first attack. In like fashion, men from Susa came in to reinforce the Medes. Leonidas pulled his 300 bodyguards back behind the shield wall and allowed them a chance to rest while their allies made short work of the oncoming Persians. As afternoon began fading into evening the sound of drums and commotion was coming from the distant Persian lines. Xerxes was appalled with his army’s inability to break the stalemate so he sent in his best. The Persian Immortals (who received their name because their number was not allowed to fall below ten thousand men for if one fell in battle another would take his place) began moving toward the Greek strongpoint. The Immortals marched in complete silence. They wore dark robes; many were covered in elaborate jewels or designs. They wore a type of mask that covered their face, crowned with a tiara on top of their heads. Spears, bows, and daggers were their primary weapons. Hydarnes, their arrogant leader, marched them down the causeway toward the Greek lines. Leonidas, sensing the danger these hooded figures posed and the affect they were having on his allies, moved his Spartans to the front line to intercept the Immortals. The most highly trained troops in the ancient world were now only a few yards apart.
The Immortals remained silent as they stopped short of the Greek lines. They hoped that they could intimidate the Greeks through their silence, the way they had many other foes. However, the Spartans were not a society built on such principles and they immediately began yelling, clanging their shields, and challenging these Persians to attack them. As if they were one, the Immortals attacked the Spartan line, fully believing that they would overcome their adversary. They quickly learned the same lesson that their comrades had been learning all day, desert tactics were completely useless in the confines of the Hot Gates. The Spartans initially employed a fake retreat, drawing in the Immortals. The Persians took the bait and began to chase the Spartans farther into the pass; without warning the Spartans wheeled around attacking the oncoming Immortals. The Spartan long spears tore the Immortals to pieces and eventually they were forced to retreat when Xerxes believed he would lose his best infantrymen.The Greeks won the day, dealing catastrophic casualties against the Persians. In his book Greek Ways Bruce Thorton had this to say about the Greeks, “free men make better warriors, for they are citizens- soldiers fighting for themselves and their families and their property rather than to further the schemes of big-men or elites.”
The second day went much like the first. Xerxes promised lavished rewards for those who could break through the Greek position. Wave upon wave of troops descended upon the Greeks but they stood firm. The Persian commanders eventually had to resort to whipping their troops to get them to attack the strongpoint. Bradford describes the second day stating,
In the confusion of those in the front trying to turn back from the bronze wall bristling with spears and those at the back running forward to escape the blows across their shoulders, chaos was complete. Yard upon yard in front of the Greek line was piled with slain and wounded while the sickly sweet smell of death was everywhere on the air. So finding that they were doing no better than on the previous day, the Persians once again withdrew.
Xerxes was irate by this point and with his supply fleet still not appearing, he was becoming quite desperate.
Themistocles was doing an admirable job in attacking the Persian fleet. Persia’s armada was much larger than that of the Greeks but a powerful storm and two decisive raids by Themistocles seemed to even the odds for them. The most important factors that Themistokles was trying to accomplish were keeping the Persian army from being supplied and holding them in the Northern section of Greece. He accomplished both of these feats, allowing Leonidas and his men to avoid being flanked from behind by soldiers unloaded from the Persian fleet.
During this time, Ephialtes chose to speak to Xerxes about a way to flank the Greek position. He informed the Great King about a path that ran through the mountains, coming out behind the Greek lines. Xerxes, who was desperate for progress, quickly took this advice and summoned Hydarnes and his Immortals to move hastily into the mountain pass. Leonidas already knew about this vulnerable point and stationed 1000 Phocians to guard this vital path. As the 10,000 Immortals came marching up the rugged trail, they caught the Phocian sentries completely off guard. The frantic soldiers put on their armor and retreated. They hoped to make a last stand on a small hill not far from their position. The Immortals, realizing they had driven off the only Greeks in front of the path, broke off their attack and began moving downhill toward the Spartan flank.
Leonidas, probably from a scout or Phocian runner, learned of the oncoming Persian force. He held a quick war council and came to a decisive conclusion, one that would rocket him into infamy. Many of the officers believed that all the Greeks should retreat and fight another day. Having the final authority, Leonidas opted to stay with his bodyguard and block the path, allowing the rest of the Greek army to fall back safely and regroup with the rest of the Greek army.
The force that stayed in Thermopylae was probably no more than 2000 men. It was made up of the bodyguard of Leonidas, 400 Thebans, 700 Thespians, and small pockets of other Greek compatriots. The Spartans were trained from birth to be ready for just this particular moment but the honor and courage of the other Greeks who knew that they were going to die is quite commendable. Leonidas looked at his brave combatants: “Have a good breakfast, men, for tonight we dine in Hades,” he declared.
The Greeks placed themselves in the pass just as they had the two days prior. The Persians, buying time until the Immortals could make their way down the mountain, sent an attack head on against the Greek frontline. Their main advantage was sheer weight of numbers and they hoped that these men, whom they were sacrificing, could snap the Greek spears and take away their advantage. Holland describes the initial attack:
Trapped between their own military police and the fearsome, bronze-tipped, blood-bespattered Greek phalanx, the hapless levies had little choice but to shamble forward, to be crushed against the shield wall or else drowned in the shallows, falling in their hundreds upon hundreds, to be sure, but also, as they did so, gradually splintering the Greek spears into matchwood.
With their spears broken, the Greeks turned to their short swords. They screamed loudly and charged the Persians in a free-for-all style of combat. It is during this time that two brothers of Xerxes and Leonidas himself were killed. The Persians raced to grab the body of the fallen king but they were repulsed four times by the remaining Spartans. Then, from behind them, Hydarnes and his Immortals arrived. Trapped from both sides, the Greeks moved themselves into a nook of the pass. Seizing the opportunity, the Persian archers sent volley after volley of arrows into the dilapidated Greek line. With the Spartans and their allies bleeding and broken the Immortals charged in to finish the job. Holland describes the end of the battle:
Feathered with arrows, slathered with gore, they resisted to the end. Even when their swords shivered, they used the hilts as knuckle-dusters, or else fought with their teeth, their fists, their nails, Only when every last Spartan lay dead, the dust blood-slaked, the corpses piled high, could the struggle be reckoned over, and the pass the Great King’s at last.
When the battle was over, Xerxes moved into the pass and examined the score. He ordered the bodies of his men buried and the Greeks to rot in the sun. Leonidas’ head was removed from his body and posted on a stake facing Athens. Xerxes then marched his army south and captured the now abandoned city of Athens. The fleet, which had been fighting pitched battles with the Greeks over the last few days, finally arrived bringing much needed supplies to the Persian army. After the sacking of Athens, Xerxes, feeling he had fulfilled all they had had set out to do, left the main army and returned home to Persepolis. He placed Mardonius in charge of the remaining army, hoping that he could finish off the rest of the rebellious Greeks and in turn become the satrap of Greece.
The Greek fleet had barely escaped during a daring night get-away and the land force at Thermopylae was either routed or destroyed. Things were not looking good for the Greeks. However, the free men of Europe were not finished resisting. With the holy festival now behind them, the Spartans moved in full force north. Ten thousand strong, they gathered allies as they went and eventually amassed the largest hoplite army ever formed with nearly 40,000 men filling its ranks. The Greek fleet, although battered, remained intact over the next few months and eventually was able to score an impressive victory in the Salamis Bay. This effectively ended Persian sea superiority and forced their fleet to retreat back to the north. The aforementioned hoplite army met Mardonius at a place known as Plataea. It was here that the Greeks wrought their revenge upon the Persians. The battle looked to be a victory for the Persians but the Greeks held together and pulled off a monumental victory. Mardonius was killed in the battle and the Persians retreated, eventually leaving Greece all together. The free men had done the unthinkable. They had defended their small rocky country against the largest, most well armed, and supplied force that the ancient world had ever seen. For the first time in its history, Greece stood as one.
The Spartan warriors were simply outstanding. Combining their training with the will to fight that only free men know, Greece successfully surprised the Persians with their desire to live under their own accord. In all aspects of military life the Persians and Greeks were polar opposites. The Persians relied on quickness, along with cavalry and marksmanship, while the Greeks put their trust in the phalanx and the durability of their mighty hoplites. When both of these forces collided at Thermopylae, the world was forever changed. David Frye in his work Spartan Stand at Thermopylae vividly describes the Greek sacrifice, especially that of the Spartans:
It is in many ways the irony of Thermopylae that Sparta, arguably the least free of all the Greek states, now stood as the final defender of Greek freedom. All the things that would make Greece great–science, art, poetry, drama, philosophy–were foreign to Sparta. The Spartans had developed a constitution of almost total subordination of the individual to the community. Spartan elders determined which infants could live or die. Spartan boys were sent into military training at the age of 7. Spartan men lived in barracks, away from their wives, for much of their adult lives. The Spartans ate at a common table, they distributed land equally in an almost communistic fashion and they were forbidden to engage in what were deemed the “superfluous” arts. Such freedoms as their warrior elite enjoyed did not extend to non-Spartans living in their territory, the Helots, who served as their slaves. Yet the Spartan elite believed passionately in their freedom, and their sense of duty, imbued at an early age, guaranteed that no Spartan commander would ever have to resort to whips to drive his soldiers into battle.
Free men make better warriors. It is vitally important that this fact is understood. When Leonidas and his men declined the opportunity to leave Thermopylae, they laid their lives down for an idea. Nothing worth having comes without a price and Leonidas and his men paid the ultimate price. Through their deaths they inspired a backwater country to unite under the banner of freedom and defeat the greatest empire of their time. The men that stood and died in that narrow gorge taught the world a phenomenal lesson about courage in the face of terrible odds and even death.
Today in Thermopylae there is a memorial erected to the Greeks who died defending the pass. It has few words for so great a deed but it celebrates the Greek, particularly the Spartan, spirit in this short sentence: “Go tell the Spartans, thou who passes by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.” 
Allen, Lindsay. The Persian Empire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
Bradford, Ernle Dusgate Selby. Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. New York: Da Capo Press, 2004.
Budin, Stephanie Lynn. The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives. Understanding ancient civilizations. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2004.
Camp, John McK., and Elizabeth Fisher. The World of the Ancient Greeks. New York, N.Y.: Thames & Hudson, 2002.
Cottrell, Arthur, Rachel Storm, Rachel Storm, and Arthur Cotterell. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology: An A – Z of the Myths and Legends of the Ancient World. London: Lorenz, 1999
Davis, Paul K. 100 Decisive Battles: From Ancient Times to the Present. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 1999.
Grote, George. History of Greece Volume 4: London: John Murray, 1887
Herodotus, George Rawlinson, and William George Grieve Forrest. History of the Greek and Persian War. N.Y.: Twayne Publishers, 1963.
Holland, Tom. Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West. Paw Prints, 2010.
Konstam, Angus. Ancient World Commanders. From the Trojan War to the Fall of Rome. London: Compendium Publishing Ltd, 2008.
Sidnell, Philip. Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare. London: Hambledon Continuum, 2006.
Snodgrass, Anthony M. Arms and Armour of the Greeks. Aspects of Greek and Roman life. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1967.
Thornton, Bruce S. Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2000.
Baldwin, Barry. “Re-running Marathon.” History Today 48, no. 5 (May 1998): 44. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 28, 2010).
Carey, Brian Todd. “The phalanx dominated Greek warfare for three centuries, but fell before combined-arms forces.” Military History 23, no. 6 (September 2006): 69-72. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 12, 2010).
Frye, David. “SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE.” Military History 22, no. 10 (January 2006): 38-44. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 6, 2010).
 Paul K. Davis 100 Decisive Battles: From Ancient Times to the Present (Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 1999) Pgs. 9-13.
 These cities appealed to mainland Greece for help but only two cities responded, Eretria, a city on the Island of Euboia, and Athens. Both sent as many warships as they could muster to help their Ionian allies.
 John Camp and Elizabeth Fisher, The World of the Ancient Greeks (New York, N.Y.: Thames & Hudson, 2002) P.110.
 Tom Holland Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West( Paw Prints, 2010)Pgs. 171-186.
 Stephanie Lynn Budin The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives. Understanding ancient civilizations. (Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2004) Pg. 71.
 Tom Holland, Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West. Paw Prints, 2010. Pg. 188
 Ibid. 192.
 The Persian cavalry may have been left on the boats and Militiades decided to attack since they were not deployed.
 Ibid. 197.
 Stephanie Lynn Budin, The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives (Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2004) Pg. 71.
 Tom Holland, Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, 2010 p.200-201.
 Barry Baldwin, “Re-running Marathon,” History Today 48, no. 5 (May 1998): 44; Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 28, 2010) P.7.
 Lindsay Allen, The Persian Empire. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005) P.7.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West (New York: Da Capo Press, 2004) P. 30.
 Lindsay Allen, The Persian Empire, P.15.
 Ibid, pgs.33 + 37..
 Tom Holland Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, P. 206
 Tom Holland. Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, p. 211.
 David Frye, “SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE,” Military History 22, no. 10 (January 2006): 38-44; Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 6, 2010).
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. New York, P. 86.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. New York, P.48; Tom Holland, Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, p.210.
 These area’s are located in Northern Greece and Bulgaria today.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. New York, P.212.
 Lindsay Allen, The Persian Empire. Chicago, P. 54.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. New York: P.25.
 Ibid. 25.
 Lindsay Allen, The Persian Empire, Pgs 54-55.
 Ernle Bradford Thermopylae: The Battle for the West, p.25
 These were ancient warships.
 Ernle Bradford Thermopylae: The Battle for the West, p. 28-29.
 Lindsay Allen, The Persian Empire, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) 2005 p.54.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P.31.
 David Frye “SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE.” Military History 22, no. 10 (January 2006): 38-44. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 6, 2010).
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P.34.
 David Frye “SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE.” Military History 22, no. 10 (January 2006): 38-44. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 6, 2010).
 Ibid. 38-44.
 Thermopylae means “hot gates” in Greek. There were natural hot springs that flowed throughout the narrow pass and pooled in low places; thus, giving the name.
 Ernle Bradford ,Thermopylae: The Battle for the West, pgs. 105-107.
 George Grote, History of Greece Volume 4: London: John Murray, 1887. Pgs 151 and 152.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West, P. 56.
 John Campy and Elizabeth Fisher. The World of the Ancient Greeks, P. 111.
 Herodotus, George Rawlinson, and William George Grieve Forrest. History of the Greek and Persian War( N.Y.: Twayne Publishers, 1963) Pgs. 282-283
 John Camp and Elizabeth Fisher The World of the Ancient Greeks, P. 111.
 Stephanie Lynn Budin, The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives. Pg. 167.
 Stephanie Lynn Budin, The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives. Pg. 167; John Camp and Elizabeth Fisher. The World of the Ancient Greeks. New York, N.Y.: Thames & Hudson, 2002. P. 114.
 Bruce S. Thorton, Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2000) P.88
 Stephanie Lynn Budin, The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives, Pg.167.
 Anthony M. Snodgrass, Arms and Armour of the Greeks, (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1967) P. 22.
 Bruce S. Thorton, Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization, P.88.
 John Camp and Elizabeth Fisher, The World of the Ancient Greeks, P. 114.
 Brian Todd, “The phalanx dominated Greek warfare for three centuries, but fell before combined-arms forces,” Military History 23, no. 6 (September 2006): 69-72, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 12, 2010).
 Philip SIdnell, Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare (London: Hambledon Continuum, 2006) P. 24-25.
 Stephanie Lynn Budin, The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives.. Pg. 125.
 Ernle Bradfotd, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 61.
 Stephanie Lynn Budin. The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives. Pg. 124.
 Ibid. 61.
 Ibid. 127.
 John Camp and Elizabeth Fisher. The World of the Ancient Greeks. P. 84
 Ibid. 84.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 61.
 Stephanie Lynn Budin, The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives.. Pg. 124.
 John Camp and Elizabeth Fisher, The World of the Ancient Greeks P. 85; Ernle Bradford. Thermopylae: The Battle for the West, P. 62.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 63.
 Ibid. 85.
 Tom Holland Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, P.181.
 Angus Konstam, Ancient World Commanders. From the Trojan War to the Fall of Rome( London: Compendium Publishing Ltd, 2008) P 97.
 Pertaining to Greece as a whole unit and not just individual city states.
 Upon consulting the Oralce of Delphi, the priests heard the oracle say that Greece would be saved by a wooden wall. Some Greeks believed it was the wall at the Isthmus of Corinth that the oracle was talking about but Themistokles believed that it was ships that would protect Athens.
 David Frye “SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE,” Military History 22, no. 10 (January 2006): 38-44. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 6, 2010).
 Ernle Bradford Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 65 &101.
 Ringing in the ears of Leonidas as he marched north was the words received from the Oracle of Delphi, which stated that for Sparta to survive the war, a Spartan King would have to die. Leonidas and his men fully realized that they were walking to their graves.
 David Frye “SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE.” Military History 22, no. 10 (January 2006): 38-44. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 6, 2010).
 Ibid; In addition to the hot springs, there was an alter to Hercules and on old gate that the Spartans quickly rebuilt to bolster their defense.
 Ernle Bradford Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 115.
 Ibid P. 119; Demaratus surely would have known that the Spartans were in the middle of the Carneia festival and the force holding the pass of Thermopylae was not a full Spartan army but only a holding force. Demaratus played the role of double agent throughout the campaign, giving advice to Xerxes but always trying to save his people at the same time. Spartiates is what the Spartans referred to themselves as.
 David Frye “SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE.” Military History 22, no. 10. 38-44.
 Ernle Bradford Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 126-127.
 Ibid. P.127.
 Tom Holland, Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, P.274-275.
 A.T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire Chicago( University of Chicago Press, 1959) P. 238.
 Ernle Bradford Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 129.
 Thornton, Bruce S, Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization, P. 166.
 Ernle Bradford Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 132.
 Leonidas stationed the Phocians to guard this pass because this particular area of Greece was their homeland and they vowed to fight till the death defending it.
 Ernle Bradford ,Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 136-137; Ephialtes is given credit for giving up the weakness of the Spartan position; however, there were undoubtedly many people who would have sold out the Spartans and their allies quickly if they were offered enough incentive. Many people were very Pro-Persian and it was certainly not unthinkable to sell out their Greek counterparts.
 Ernle Bradford, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West. P. 139.
 Tom Holland, Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, P. 292-293.
 Ibid. 294.
 Themistocles had ordered the city to be evacuated several months earlier when he realized the intentions of the Persians.
 Tom Holland, Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, P. 341-355
 David Frye ,”SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE.” Military History 22, no. 10. 38-44.
 David Frye, “SPARTAN STAND AT THERMOPYLAE.” Military History 22, no. 10. 38-44.