The Spartans, Lionized as Warrior Martyrs in Frank Miller's Production, Weren't as Noble as They Appear on Film
The Battle of Thermopylae is the inial major event of the Second Persian War, the Persian invasion, led by King Xerxes (son of Darius I who was defeated by theAthenians) into the Greek city-states (480 BC).
A Spartan contingent of 300 of their finest, led by King Leonidas, led a Greek allied force of approximately 2700-5500 hoplites and Helots (Spartan slaves) to the mountain pass of Thermopylae. The strategy behind this move was to stall the Persian advance long enough for the Atheinian fleet to destroy the much larger Persian naval force.
The Spartan force did their job and the Athenians eventually tricked the Persian fleet into a trap and reduced the Persian fleet to militarly insignificance. The Sparta-led force would have received reinforcements, but Greek religious beliefs prevented them from sending troops during the festival of Karnea.
The Persian forces ranged between 200,000-300,000 troops of various kinds. None of which, however, were ready for the far superior tactics of the Greeks. After three days of intense battle, suppossedly a Greek who was a Persian sympathizer, revaled a secret moutain path behind the Greek forces, whereby the Persians surrounded the Greeks, killing them to the last man. The Persians, however, sustained heavy losses, proving the superiority of the Greek method of warfare. The Persians did enter the Greek city-sates, but after their failure and defeat at the naval battle of Salamis, they were unable to maintain a significance force in the Greek lands. As a result, the
Spartan-led force played a hugely significant role in undermining the Persian invasion.
The movie, despite what many here are saying, is hardly accurate at all. Most of what the movie portrays, including details about daily life, military personnel, battle techniques, and timelines, is either inaccurate, anachronistic, exaggerated, or purely fanciful.
PS: The elite Persian troops were called "The immortals" ,a force of 10,000. The Immortals had a reputation of being an unstoppable force who were the most efficient killers the known world had ever seen. They were not immortal and they were easily stoppable, as the 300 spartans and their Boeothian allies sliced and diced them til they were no more.