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Final Exam Paper

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In this paper I will be comparing and contrasting the events that took place in the movie 300 to the real events that were recorded throughout history by many historians that have studied these events of the one of the strongest Hellenic city-states Sparta.

The movie 300 was set in the spring of 480 BC when the Persian King Xerxes was trying to follow in his fathers footsteps who continuing his master plan to conquer the Hellenic city-states, arrives in Hellas. The previous attempts by the Persians had already turned most northern Hellenic tribes and states to the Persian side. The citizens of Athens and Sparta, the largest Hellenic powers of the time felt disrespected by the Persian emissaries' request to surrender to Xerxes. In Sparta, King Leonidas meets with the local oracle, who gives him two options: Either a Spartan king will have to be sacrificed, or Sparta will be burned to the ground. A year earlier (481 BC) a Panhellenic consortium of all southern city-states had already recognized the superiority of the Spartan army (the best organized and trained army at the time) and had declared King Leonidas as supreme commander of the combined Hellenic army. The decision was then made to have a small force block Xerxes' route to southern Hellas in the Thermopylae passage. The size of this passage at the time was 12 meters wide. The great historian Herodotus, maybe exaggerating, states that there were 1,700,000 Persians against 7,000 Hellenic hoplites and slaves, including the 300 men of the Spartan King elite guard. King Xerxes waited four days for the Hellenes to be frightened and eventually surrender and was caught off guard by his opponents' complete apathy. An attempt by King Xerxes to convince Leonidas to drop his weapons and live on as a local governor under Xerxes, but Leonidas replied "molon lave," which means "Come and get them." The three-day battle (Thermopylae Battle) began, with the 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians (the other Hellenes where sent by Leonidas to protect passages to their flanks) slaying thousands of Persians with minimal losses. The whole Persian campaign would have failed if it hadn't been for Efialtes, who showed Xerxes a secret passage to the Hellenic flanks. After a final battle led by King Xerxes himself, the Hellenic force was slain and their heroism and glory was written forever in history. From the beginning of the battle, the Hellenes buried their dead in the spot where they fell.

Battle signs where made for the dead of each Hellenic faction. For the Pellopanisians, (including the 300 Spartans) the sign generally read " In this place 4,000 Pelloponisians fought 30 million)." For the 300 Spartans (Lakaedaemonians), the sign read "Oh foreigner, tell the Lakaedaemonians that we are buried here obeying their laws," meaning that they never hesitated and never retreated from the enemy. In the end the impact of the battle was enormous for both sides: For the Persians, their morale dropped to zero, and for the Hellenes, they lost their fear of the Persian conqueror and organized their defense.

Now to compare and contrast a few things between the movie and what was recorded in history about the heroic efforts by the men of Sparta. In the movie it only shows



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