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The Battle of Thermopylae

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The Battle of Thermopylae

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  1. The Battle of Thermopylae

  2. The Aftermath of Marathon • Spartans showed up two days after the battle was over. • Three reasons why the Spartans did not help earlier: (There was more to it than a religious festival) • Sparta disliked Athens • Sparta afraid of a helot revolt. • Sparta afraid the Persians would make them look weak. • After the Persians left Marathon, they rushed to Athens to catch them off guard, but Miltiades got the troops back. • When Darius saw that Miltiades made it back in time, the Persians retreated back to Asia Minor. • Ten years peace followed.

  3. 192 Athenians dead buried in ceremonial funeral mound still there today!

  4. Background to Thermopylae • The Greek leader Miltiades was wounded at Marathon so the Greeks were in need. • The leaders following Miltiades were all weak so they were ostracized. • Themistocles was the new leader. • He was very strong and could act quickly to respond to difficult situations. • Silver mines were found outside Athens which helped strengthen the military.

  5. Themistocles

  6. What to do with the cash? • Themistocles put a lot of money from the silver into building up the army to 100,000-150,000 men and building 200 warships. (Triremes) • The Athenians were not going to attack, they were on the defensive waiting for Persia to attack.

  7. Persian Wars

  8. Persia Thirst for Revenge • Persia also had a new leader. Darius was out and Xerxes was in. (Son of Darius & Grandson of Cyrus) • 3 Theories around Darius • He was a weak leader (losing to Athens – Kicked out) • Too old to keep up. • Died • Son, “Xerxes,” grows up vowing to revenge his father’s loss. Forces slave to follow him, constantly whispering “Remember the Athenians” for next 10 years!

  9. Xerxes assumes power and amasses huge army over 200,000+ strong

  10. and 1000 ships!

  11. Cooperation Among Greece • Athenians hear about Xerxes’ thirst for revenge they look for help. • Get many other Greek Polis to agree to help. 1st time wide scale co-operation between the Greeks… • Sparta and Athens decided to work together to fight the Persians. • Sparta had a very strong army • Athens had a strong navy.

  12. Deja Vu • Once again, Greeks heavily outnumbered. • The Spartans were led by Leonidas, the King of Sparta. His troops were the ultimate warriors.

  13. Thermopylae

  14. The Battle at Thermopylae • August of 480 BC • The Greeks were waiting for the Persians at Thermopylae. • (If the Persians wanted to get into mainland Greece they would have to take this pass.) • Xerxes sat on a golden throne atop the pass to watch the battle. • For the first two days the 7300 Greek soldiers were able to hold off the Persians, slaughtering the Persians. (Even Xerxes’ elite “Immortals”)

  15. A Traitor Among the Greeks • A Greek soldier betrayed the Greeks and showed Xerxes a path that would lead the Persian troops behind the Greeks. • Leonidas sends the Athenians home knowing they are going to lose. • This way the Athenians could defend the city. • The Persians slaughtered the remaining Spartans, all were killed.

  16. “The last stand…..

  17. Leonidas Statue of Leonidas in Sparta today.

  18. Decisive Battles Video Decisive Battles - Thermopylae 480 BC

  19. Thermopylae Video

  20. Battle Day 2

  21. Battle Day 3

  22. Where Next? • Xerxes had free passage to Athens now that the pass at Thermopylae was taken. • He moved on to Athens and sacked and burned the Acropolis including the Temple of Athena. • Athenians realize how vulnerable they have become. • Evacuate city citizens to the Salamis islands. • Leaves an elderly gentleman behind to give Xerxes important information: • “Athenians will surrender on one condition. Do not destroy our city.”

  23. Strike a Deal? • Athenians claim they will encircle Persian & Greek fleets, then hold the Greek ships from escape, allowing the Persians to completely destroy all fellow Greek triremes. • Xerxes pleased with agreement. • Places throne on acropolis to watch his moment of triumph.

  24. What’s Next? Battle of Salamis Bay

  25. Result of Thermopylae • Created a sense of nationalism among the Greeks as it was the first time they Greek city-states fought together. This continued. • It showed Xerxes that conquering Greece was not going to be easy. The Greeks were a strong, determinded and skilled force. (just as Marathon had shown Darius) • The courageous self-sacrifice of Leonidas and his men won the Greeks two significant advantages. • First, it bought Greeks thetime necessary to reorganize and assemble their forces for the sea-battle to come, • (what had to happen when such great navies were brought into such close proximity.) • Second and more important, it gave them a chance to prepare for Xerxes' invasion of Attica which by now was inevitable, too.