I'm very excited to see this movie "300" that is coming out today. Mainly because I have been to Thermopylae where it was said that this battle happened. Just as a small history lesson to those of you who may go see it... This movie is about a group of soldiers from a Greek territory called Sparta. When the Persians came to attack Greece, they were called up to defend and fight. The Spartan army was the best in Greek history, some of the crazy things I learned about them while I was on my trip are....
- Spartan sons were born and bread to fight in battle and to be ready to die
- They would live in the army barracks from the time they were 6 until the time they were 30, to train and also to develop relationships with their fellow soldiers, as this would strengthen the army
- At age 20 they were allowed to get married, but they still weren't allowed to go home and live with their wife until they were 30
- It was 400 years befor the Spartan army lost their first war
- The city of Sparta had two kings, one to go to war with them and one to stay at home.
- They wore red so that their enemies wouldn't see their blood on them...
The way that the story goes is this.... Persia and Greece were well into their war when someone slipped informaiton to the Persians about a a mountain pass that would lead behind the Greek lines. Hearing about this the King of the Spartans, who was in charge of the Greek army, released the rest of the forces and said that he and the Spartans would fight, knowing that the Persians would be coming in from all sides. He did this knowing that the Spartans would stay and basicaly fight to their death, while the rest of the Greek army was allowed to retreat so they could go ready the rest of Greece that the Persians were coming to attack, namely Athens.
Greece didn't have a "national" army perse, because its territories were many city-states put together. So when they had to fight, such as against the Persians, many city-states, including ones such as Sparta, came together to fight. This is where the legend comes in. There were about 300 Spartan soldiers, but there were also many other soldiers from all over Greece, which actually meant there were about 5,500 of them. Also, when they spole of Spartan soldiers, they only meant the soldiers that had been trained and had lived in the barracks since they were six etc etc... However, the Spartans also always had about 3 "personal aids" that also were trained to fight. So each of those 300 had at least 3 "personal assistants" who were also fighting... so this legend about 300 against a million kajillion others.... not so fascinating any more when you realize that the 300 number alone should be multiplied by 4, not to mention the rest of the 5,500 soldiers.
All in all - I am VERY excited to see it - I know that makes me a big school nerd because I like the history behind it - but we all already knew that I am a huge school nerd. Just remember this when you are watching the movie... the Greek guide that toured me around Greece said there was ONE thing that the movie producers/writers got right. There is ONE thing that is historically correct in this movie. That is.... the Spartans wore red.... :)