Leonidas the First of Sparta, son of Anaxandrides, was born in 530 B.C. and died in 480 B.C. He became king when his older half-brother died under mysterious circumstances. Leonidas is known as one of the greatest Spartan heroes. As a boy, he was trained to become a Spartan warrior and was a great military leader once he became king.
During the time that he was king, Persia attacked Greece as revenge for burning down their capital. All the Grecian city-states banded together to fight Persia. Leonidas was led Spartan troops to meet the part of the Persian Army who was marching toward Greece. The other half of the army was coming over by sea.
Leonidas’s job was to stall the Persians coming by land. The two armies would meet on a narrow pass next to a cliff by the sea. Leonidas thought that the narrow pass would funnel the Persians into a narrower place where his army could fight them using the famous Spartan formation, the phalanx. The phalanx formation was when the warriors stood closely together so that their shields overlapped. The only problem with this formation was that it left the warriors in the back of the army unguarded.
A Persian spy told the king of Persia about a trail that led to the back of the Spartan army. Leonidas discovered the ambush and sent Greek warriors to defend the back. The Greek defenders believed Persian was attacking their homeland, so they change their position and allowed the Persians to slip by. Most of the Greek warriors retreated, but a small force of Spartans stayed behind to fight with Leonidas.
Many people think Leonidas stayed to fight because it gave Sparta more time to defend Greece. There was also prophecy said that Sparta would only win when a king died. Leonidas died and Sparta lived. King Leonidas was one of the greatest Spartan heroes because he did not have to stay and fight but he chose to.
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