Tuesday, February 27, 2007

300 Spartans

“Our army is great,” the Persian says, “and because of the number of our arrows you will not see the sky!”
Then a Spartan answers: “In the shade, therefore, we will fight!”

The Spartans were among the bravest men history has ever come across, most renowned for their battle of Thermopylae, where 300 spartans were said to have met thousands of the Persian army in a battle to invade Greece. It is no wonder then that multitudes of poems have been written on this topic, hailing the victorious dead and recalling the fame and glory of these brave warriors.

The King with half the East at heel is marched from land of morning;
Their fighters drink the rivers up, their shafts benight the air,
And he that stands will die for nought, and home there's no returning.
The Spartans on the sea-wet rock sat down and combed their hair.
- A.E. Housman, The Oracles

"The greatest form of flattery is Imitation". This being said, the numerous works inspired by the Spartans and their adventures themselves cry out for eternity the immortality of these men and also of the contemporary poets who wrote about them. Many great speeches quote the words of bravery spoken by or of this warrior nation that changed the face of the Greek empire and thwarted all plans of establishment of the Persians in Europe.

"When boyhood's fire was in my blood
I read of ancient free men
In Greece and in Rome where bravely stood
300 men and three men "
- Thomas Osborne Davis, A Nation Once again

Spartans were the stalwarts in bringing together the smaller nations and preparing and leading them to battle to guard their lands. It must be pointed out though that the spartans were never an Empire, they were a League, born to fight!

"When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow,
We Gave Our Today"
- Commonwealth cemetery war memorial (inspired by the spartan works)

Perhaps their most famous line, uttered when they were asked to surrender their arms to the Persians in the famous battle, says it all, depicting their attitude and philosophy in absolute...

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