"Go tell the Spartans..."

Jonathan Randall

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In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, an alliance of Greekcity-states fought the invading Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the invader in one of history's most famous last stands. A small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta blocked the only road through which the massive army of Xerxes I could pass. After three days of battle, a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a mountain path that led behind the Greek lines. Dismissing the rest of the army, King Leonidas stayed behind with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespian volunteers. Though they knew it meant their own deaths, they held their position and secured the retreat of the other Greek forces. The Persians succeeded in taking the pass but sustained heavy losses, extremely disproportionate to those of the Greeks. The fierce resistance of the Spartan-led army offered Athens the invaluable time to prepare for a decisive naval battle.[1]
The performance of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is often used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain to maximize an army's potential, and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. The heroic sacrifice of the Spartans and the Thespians has captured the minds of many throughout the ages and has given birth to many cultural references as a result


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/300_Spartans
 
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Jonathan Randall

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Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
that here, obedient to their laws, we lie Go, stranger, and to Lacedaemon tell
That here, obeying her behests, we fell. Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Go tell the Spartans, passerby,
That here, by Spartan law, we lie Go tell the Spartans, you who read;
We took their orders, and are dead. Go, tell the Spartans, you who read this stone
That we lie here, and that their will was done. Go tell them in Sparta, passer-by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Go, stranger, and tell the Spartans
That we lie here in obedience to their laws Stranger, bear this message to the Spartans,
that we lie here obedient to their laws. Stranger, report this word, we pray, to the Spartans,
that lying Here in this spot we remain, faithfully keeping their laws. Stranger, tell the Spartans,
Here we lie, Obedient.Stranger! To Sparta say, her faithful band,
Here lie in death, remembering her command. Stranger to the Spartans go, and tell,
How here, obedient to their laws, we fell. Friend, tell the Spartans that on this hill
We lie obedient to them still.
Oh foreigner, give a message to the Lacedaemonians
that here lie we, their words obeying. Tell them in Lacadaemon, passer-byObedient to our orders, here we lie. Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved as they would wish us to, and are buried here
 

exile

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Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
that here, obedient to their laws, we lie Go, stranger, and to Lacedaemon tell
That here, obeying her behests, we fell. Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Go tell the Spartans, passerby,
That here, by Spartan law, we lie Go tell the Spartans, you who read;
We took their orders, and are dead. Go, tell the Spartans, you who read this stone
That we lie here, and that their will was done. Go tell them in Sparta, passer-by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Go, stranger, and tell the Spartans
That we lie here in obedience to their laws Stranger, bear this message to the Spartans,
that we lie here obedient to their laws. Stranger, report this word, we pray, to the Spartans,
that lying Here in this spot we remain, faithfully keeping their laws. Stranger, tell the Spartans,
Here we lie, Obedient.Stranger! To Sparta say, her faithful band,
Here lie in death, remembering her command. Stranger to the Spartans go, and tell,
How here, obedient to their laws, we fell. Friend, tell the Spartans that on this hill
We lie obedient to them still.
Oh foreigner, give a message to the Lacedaemonians
that here lie we, their words obeying. Tell them in Lacadaemon, passer-byObedient to our orders, here we lie. Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved as they would wish us to, and are buried here

Jonathan, my favorite version of that couplet is a slight variant of one you give:

Go tell the Spartans, friend, that on this hill
We lie, obedient to their precepts still.
 

grydth

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How well do these translate into modern times?

Luftwaffe Marshall Goering tried to co-opt the above verse for the men dead and dying in Stalingrad in early 1943. It was met with fury - especially by those men.

Goering was doing it from the safety of shopping trips to Paris, and he was in large measure responsible for the loss of Sixth Army.
 

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How well do these translate into modern times?

Luftwaffe Marshall Goering tried to co-opt the above verse for the men dead and dying in Stalingrad in early 1943. It was met with fury - especially by those men.

Goering was doing it from the safety of shopping trips to Paris, and he was in large measure responsible for the loss of Sixth Army.

I agree, it's not so simple finding the application to militaries at war in recent centuries. The reason I find it eloquent is exactly because of what it represents in its ancient context. I've read a bit about Thermopylae and its significance in the context of the Greeks and their view of world, and I gather that historians see the allied city-states fighting the Persians as conscious of their role as defenders of a distinctly Western civilization, based on citizenship and the collaboration of citizens in constructing the polity. They were conscious of the crucial nature of the war with the Eastern despotism of Persia. And you could argueI've seen it done!that Thermopylae was a crucial battle in the preservation of that world view. So the idea of the Spartans and their Thespian allies (the latter civilian volunteers, not dedicated professionals, and whose self-sacrifice was therefore still more heroic) making this final stand on behalf of the future of western civilization has always seemed incredibly moving to me...
 

Touch Of Death

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I saw an add for Three Hundred with my friends and they had no Idea what a Spartan even was. I explained the battle to them and I guess they don't need the movie now.:ultracool
Sean
 

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The lack of education required to not know about the Spartan's is a terrible indictment of how the school system has declined - I'm not exactly sitting here open mouthed in shock but a weary shake of the head is in order :(.

However, not going to turn this into an educational polemic, so shutting up now before I ramble on too long ...
 
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Jonathan Randall

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How well do these translate into modern times?

Luftwaffe Marshall Goering tried to co-opt the above verse for the men dead and dying in Stalingrad in early 1943. It was met with fury - especially by those men.

Goering was doing it from the safety of shopping trips to Paris, and he was in large measure responsible for the loss of Sixth Army.

What a sacrilege.

BTW, the story of the Spartans was very well covered in my 7th grade World History class - but that was over twenty-five years ago so I don't know what the current generation is learning about them, if anything.
 

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The lack of education required to not know about the Spartan's is a terrible indictment of how the school system has declined - I'm not exactly sitting here open mouthed in shock but a weary shake of the head is in order :(.

However, not going to turn this into an educational polemic, so shutting up now before I ramble on too long ...

It is indeed a shame, especially given how many places in the United States are called Sparta. There are at least seven in Kentucky alone.
 

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In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, an alliance of Greekcity-states fought the invading Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the invader in one of history's most famous last stands. A small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta blocked the only road through which the massive army of Xerxes I could pass. After three days of battle, a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a mountain path that led behind the Greek lines. Dismissing the rest of the army, King Leonidas stayed behind with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespian volunteers. Though they knew it meant their own deaths, they held their position and secured the retreat of the other Greek forces. The Persians succeeded in taking the pass but sustained heavy losses, extremely disproportionate to those of the Greeks. The fierce resistance of the Spartan-led army offered Athens the invaluable time to prepare for a decisive naval battle.[1]
The performance of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is often used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain to maximize an army's potential, and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. The heroic sacrifice of the Spartans and the Thespians has captured the minds of many throughout the ages and has given birth to many cultural references as a result


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/300_Spartans

Thermopylae is one of the classic examples of indomitable spirit, a concept that is, sadly, lacking in many societies today.
 
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Jonathan Randall

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Thermopylae is one of the classic examples of indomitable spirit, a concept that is, sadly, lacking in many societies today.

True - although I do believe our (the U.S.) Armed Forces have quite a few "Spartans" in them.
 

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True - although I do believe our (the U.S.) Armed Forces have quite a few "Spartans" in them.

As individuals - without a doubt. Among the commanders - especially those who command from behind (the Hindmost, in Niven's parlance) - sadly, not so much... :(
 

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What a sacrilege.

BTW, the story of the Spartans was very well covered in my 7th grade World History class - but that was over twenty-five years ago so I don't know what the current generation is learning about them, if anything.

Here it is (not) covered in the sixth grade. There is no mention of
Leonidas or the battle in my daughter's book.

Lenin has a good write up, though, and there is nothing to offend the Satanocracy in Iran, so one supposes all is not lost.... :barf:
 

grydth

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I thought so.... it has spawned some good debates at the War College section and a couple other places. Spend the $7 and then join in.
 

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Just saw it..people need to stop looking for a deeper message in entertainment all the time and just enjoy it. I thought it was a work of art visually, those who want to make a big issue about historical accuracy and political message need to look inside themselves more and project less on everything around them.
 

grydth

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Just saw it..people need to stop looking for a deeper message in entertainment all the time and just enjoy it. I thought it was a work of art visually, those who want to make a big issue about historical accuracy and political message need to look inside themselves more and project less on everything around them.

In my opinion, yes and no...

Yes, I agree that there are times to just enjoy life. I tell my (always working) wife that life should not merely be a 100 meter dash to the cemetary. We all could use more casual, non serious time.

No, often we should look for deeper messages as those are what the actors and film makers are trying to send us. Miss those and you miss a main part of that movie experience.

I am also concerned about the historical fiction genre.... I may know where "Enemy at the Gates" departed from history, but folks who are not Russian Front specialists probably will not. Too many people don't know fact from fiction anymore, and wind up being misinformed as to what really happened in history.

Course, this all is a subjective and individual thing.... a movie I find profound and want to explore endlessly, others may feel, " jeez, let's just cool out and watch the thing"
 

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The fierce resistance of the Spartan-led army offered Athens the invaluable time to prepare for a decisive naval battle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/300_Spartans
And that naval battle was at the Straights of Salamis, where a vastly outnumbered Greek navy won a decisive victory against the Persians by, again, using terrain to their advantage. Luring the Persians away from the center of the waterway and into the narrowest portions of the straight, the Greeks were able to maneuver and ram ships much more effectively, sinking between one third and one fifth of the total Persian naval forces present. When one of the Persian flagships was sunk and the chain of command broken, some of the Greek forces were able to flank the Persians and begin ramming at will. This military tactic of flanking the adversary on both sides is still remembered to this day..........
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....as the world's first Salamis sandwich.


with much thanks to Mr. Denbow's 10th grade World History class
 

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