Spartans: Small Army, Big Faith

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I always tend to ask myself, why, when, and how was war created? It may be a broad question, but it is a question that is never answered because battle is seen as something that just happens and it doesn’t really ever cross our minds for a second. Even though war can come with many downfalls, such as casualties, it can also be seen as a good thing for economic and territorial gain, or simply, revenge.

As we jump into the movie 300, we are transported to 480 B.C. to get an idea of what intense war looked like. When it comes to graphic novels and movies, along with comics, they are both very similar in the sense of showing and telling lucid, brutal scenes. In the movie 300, it most definitely portrays all of these characteristics. In addition to this graphic movie and novel, it shows and expresses the moral, how the Battle of Thermopylae was an important turn of events for Greece, and lastly, how Leonidas tried to withstand the Persian army with his 300 men.

While the movie can be unpleasant and gruesome, it is much more than just that. The movie depicts a very straightforward story of purity versus sin. Despite the fact that the Spartans combatted to the point of death to defeat the opposers, the 300 brave men were willing to dedicate themselves for the love they have for their country and for their freedom. A question that is commonly asked is what makes a person want to join the war force? Some people are natural hunter- gatherers and others enjoy the competition. Adding onto that thought, many people who go to war can be caused simply by evolution and survival of the fittest.

While reading an article entitled “So Why Do People Fight? Evolutionary Theory and the Causes of War”, Azar Gat is particularly frank with his opinion on some human’s natures by saying “the various causes of violence and war all come together and are explained within an integrated human motivational complex, shaped by evolution and natural selection” (Gat. 1). From this quote, it says that exuding violence and using that violence for the greater good passes from generation to generation. For example, if a grandparent fought in the war, a grandchild or their child is more likely to do the same thing. In my opinion, all of us humans have the natural instinct of being able to fight, however; I don’t think all of us are meant to go to war.

Before the movie even starts, we look at the title of the movie to depict that it has significance to history, but it does not. The title of the movie isn’t meant to transport the viewer to a different era, moreover; it is meant to tell a story. More importantly, besides the title, the movie deliberately tells the story the Spartans would tell during that time in 480 B.C. During the movie, 300 focuses on the Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartans go head to head with an army of thousands of Persians who are incredibly strong in the sense of wreaking havoc on everything in their route. Even though this movie is based on the war between Spartans and Persians, however; other cities in Greece join in on the battle against Persia, but their armies were not as big as the Spartans. Sparta at the time was controlled by two kings that ruled up until the point that they were coerced out of the position or simply until they died. When it comes to Athens, who was another city-state that got to fight in the battle, it was dominated by Archons and a ruler was appointed annually. The difference between Sparta and Athens is that Athens was a democracy and life in Sparta was easy because they had long time rulers. As we flip to the information about the Persians, there was an even bigger ruler causing a stirrup between everyone. Athens and Sparta were considered to be in the Hellenic city-states, moreover; King Xerxes ruled over Persians with very intense force and it threatened Sparta and Athens safety.

As the Battle of Thermopylae raged on, it took place in central Greece at the highest point of the mountain in Thermopylae, during the Persian wars. This ended up being a long fight that after three days of the Spartans putting their blood, sweat and tears into this battle, the Greeks sadly were denounced. In an article about the Persian Wars, Christopher Matthew describes how “the Persian king, learnt of a mountain path which would allow him to get some of his forces behind the Greek position and effectively bottle them in the pass” (Matthew. 6). Because the Persians found out about the mountain range and its great steep as an advantage for war, the Greeks did not know this was coming and the Persians were able to outmaneuver them.

This battle was seen as an important one because even though most of the Greeks were killed and Leonidas and a small group of men were left, it set in stone the beginning of many significant Greek conquests against the Persians and improved the optimism of all Greek city-states. Another reason it was important in regard to the battle was aiding Western advancement to hold on for the days to come. After reading an article by Donald Kagan, he is highly educated on the understanding of western civilization because “the institutions and ideas, therefore, that provide for freedom and improvement in the material conditions of life cannot take root and flourish without an understanding of how they came about and what challenges they have had to surmount” (Kagan. 2). Western civilization is insightful because without education on this topic, we would not understand what happened in our past. It is essential to learn about it because it helps us relate from one person to the other and if we didn’t learn about it, we would carry out the past.

Lastly, the battle was important because it was one of the very first battles to take place between the Persians and Greeks in the course of the Persian invasion from 480 to 479 BC. Nevertheless, the Greek force was very small, but they were dead set on their decision to stand up to Persia’s massive army. As many men were brutally sacrificed, it lit a fire under the Greeks to push the Persian’s back out of their country. The mountain path through Thermopylae put a stop to the Persians from overcoming the whole city of Greece. Despite the fact that the Persian army couldn’t get to Sparta, they were successful at burning Athens.

Many movie adaptations do not live up to the expectations some viewers have because they enjoyed the book so much more. However, the story it depicts and the essence of 300 does a great job at catching the viewers’ attention from the get-go. In an article entitled “Zack Snyder, Frank Miller and Herodotus: Three Takes on the 300 Spartans”, it states “the 300 Spartan soldiers’ stand against the biggest army the world had yet seen, an act more of the stuff of myth and fantasy than history, grabbed the emotions and imaginations of particularly the Western world for generations to come” (Murray. 1).

Even though this movie isn’t completely precise in regard to the historical components, the immeasurable moral of the story is enchanting to most people who watch it. I know I enjoyed diving deep into the depths of the vile, but passionate battle. Despite the fact that the story is about battle, it also touches on the aspects of warmth, such as love and surrendering for the benefit of all. While watching the movie, Dilios narrates something that is quite beautiful, saying “hundreds leave, a handful stay. Only one looks back.” (Snyder, 300). This is because the movie is narrated by Dilios who a great asset to the movie is.

One of the most important characters we have in the movie is Leonidas. Sparta is considered to be one of the most presiding ancient Greek cities and Leonidas was a warrior king. The reason Leonidas took on the role of warrior king was because his father failed to conquer King Xerxes of Persia in the past, so he wanted to demolish him. Robert Montgomerie, an author of “Disinformation from Sparta: The Battle of Thermopylae 480 B.C.” writes about Leonidas giving his men a speech, uttering “Gentlemen, I stand before you as the Agiad king of Sparta… My father, King Anaxandridas, taught me that the defense of Sparta was his most important aim” (Montgomerie. 27). It was important for Leonidas to give his men this speech because it made them feel they could trust their new leader after losing a great one.

However, the Spartans did not realize that Persia’s army built up their militia. Despite the fact that Leonidas died at the Battle of Thermopylae, it was portrayed as a courageous sacrifice due to the fact that he dispatched a lot of his men away after he noticed the Persians outnumbered him. In “Leonidas at Thermopylae”, McFall writes, “A warrior must not be in love with life. To conquer or die has always been our law… I’ve let the men disperse- why should they stay when defeat is guaranteed?” (1-2, 9-10) Leonidas’ character is heroic because he was altruistic in the sense of letting the men who weren’t Spartans go, that why he ended up with only 300 men. These men, especially the Spartans, were important to Leonidas in the sense that he personally chose them to fight the battle and it was considered an honor.

In conclusion, war can have many downsides to it, but it can also have an abundance of upsides. Even though many soldiers lose their life to the violence that comes with combat, those people are the most selfless. Leonidas is an example of someone who is selfless. He made sure his army had the confidence to fight the Persians despite the fact they outnumbered them. 300 isn’t just a war movie, but it is a movie that has a good story. Leonidas wanted to defeat the Persian army because his father couldn’t finish the job the first time around. After watching this movie adaptation, the story it illustrates and the ethos of 300 does a great job at grabbing our attention because the men were strong, devoted to fighting in the war for their country, and lastly, they are powerful. Despite the fact that the Spartans were defeated by the Persian army, the one thing that wasn’t defeated was the spirit and pride Greece has.


Cite this paper

Spartans: Small Army, Big Faith. (2021, Aug 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/spartans-small-army-big-faith/

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