In the late summer of 480 BCE, a Greek force of 1,000 hoplites from Thebes, Thespiae, and, most famously, Sparta, under the command of the Spartan king Leonidas, was surrounded and wiped out in the pass of Thermopylae by the invading Persian army of Great King Xerxes. The Battle of Thermopylae is the most well-known battle of the ancient wars between the Greeks and the Persians. It is also the most famous last stand in history. This episode examines the Greeks and the Persians, how they came into conflict, the events that led to their clash at Thermopylae, the three days of fighting in the pass, and the consequences of the battle. It concludes by tracing how Thermopylae was transformed into a legend of heroic sacrifice that resonates in Western culture right down to the present day.
A note to the listener: This episode is available either as a single recording or in eight shorter parts.