Leonidas I was the king of Sparta from the dynasty of Agiad and it was believed that he was a descendant of Hercules.
He was born around 540 BC, while, at the end of the decade of 490 BC he married Gorgo, daughter of his brother, Cleomenes. Those days, it was normal for the kings to marry their close relatives in order to keep the royal blood. Leonidas and Gorgo had a son, Pleistarchus.
During the Persian Wars, Leonidas took over the leadership of the Allied Hellenic Army and succeeded to keep them united and make them forget their differences. His military intelligence became apparent in August 480 BC at the pass of Thermopylae, by the way he lined up the military divisions and the speed with which he gave their forces on the battlefield.
In front of the multitudinous army of Persians, Leonidas with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians resisted strongly, taking advantage from the physical configuration of the position. When Xerxes, King of the Persians, sent a messenger and asked from Leonidas to drop his weapons and surrender, the Spartan king replied, “Molon Labe”, which means, “Come and take them”, wanting to provoke him to fight and prove his value. The diachronic “Molon Labe” has passed into history, has become a daily phrase and has given to Leonidas eternal charm. Ephialtes’s treason, on the contrary, who led the Persians to the back of the Greeks from the Anopean Atrapos Street and secured the victory of the Persian army, has been recorded with counter symbolism. All Greek soldiers were killed, including King Leonidas, who became a symbol of patriotic self-sacrifice.
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