King Leonidas is a character based upon the real-life king of Sparta (circa 520-480BC) who led a small army, (the 300 Spartans), against the overwhelming numbers of the Persian Empire, and their leader Xerxes, at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.
Leonidas was a Spartan military king who bravely led a small force of Greeks in 5th century B.C. The military was greatly referred as ‘the famous 300’. The Spartan was also accompanied by Thespians and Thebans in fighting against the much larger Persian army of Xerxes during the Persian war in 480 B.C. The battle took place at Thermopylae. King Leonidas was born in Sparta, son to King Anaxandridas II Greece in 540 B.C and died in 480B.C in Thermopylae, Greece (Burn, 19).
King Leonidas occupied the throne in time of political tension through civil arrangement. King Xerxes was fighting against the ruthless states of Greece partly to avenge his fathers’- Great Darius- defeat at Marathon. Secondly, King Xerxes had an aim to achieve his fathers’ goal of a larger Persian empire. The Thespians and Helots joined the Sparta army but could d only be engaged when Spartans were in battle.As a result, King Leonidas assumed spokesmanship of his people in the council of conflicting Greek city-states, in addition to superior warrior. He urges unity with the Greek councils in eliminating peoples’ slavery. King Leonidas rises to defend the pass of Thermopylae to Athen, a view supported by Themistocles of Athens of the united Greece.
In my opinion King Leonidas is brave and ambitious. This is confirmed by his response when he is informed that Persian army is approaching with campfires that outnumber the stars in the sky (Hooker, 11).
Moreover, the Oracle of Delphi made plan that either Sparta would burn or one of her kings would die. King Leonidas agreed to this fate on condition that the Spartan council agree to war. King Leoniads demands were met after the council agreed to send the Spartan army after observing an upcoming festival to the gods. Afterwards king Leonidas orders his troops to march. At the pass the Spartans army gave Xerxes a lot of trouble especially when they killed his brother Cyrus. In last persuasion Xerxes general asked king Leonidas to lay down their arrows but king Leonidas told the general to ‘come and take them.’ In the battle, king Xerxes promised to let the Spartan army live only if they gave him their kings’ body and demand which they shun killing all Xeres army (Michell, p.15).
Spartans boys would leave home at the age of seven for warrior training. The boy would go through education and training regime known as the agoge. The agoge aim was to cultivate loyalty to members’ own group, ensure loving mentorship, military training, hunting, dance and social preparation. Members put their loyalty to their group above their family. Members were not to have dinner with their wives till they were twenty five.
The boys lived in groups known as agelae under an older boy leader. Formal agoge training ended at age eighteen. Sparta and Athens worked together to mark the beginning of Greece as a unified nation, instead of a collection of warring city-states. Prior to these battles, it was originally the Athenians who had asked Leonidas to help them defend against the Persians.
The 300 Spartan soldiers fought nearly naked without any form of body armor protecting them. However, they had the Spartan army had plumes on their helmets. Plumes were red bands of horsehair that were affixed to the top of the top of the helments. Contrary, the 300 graphic novelist Frank Miller only gave a plume to king Leonidas to make him stand out and to identify him as a king.
Virtues of duty, discipline, self sacrifice and extreme toughness in today’s military duty – King Leonidas consulted an Oracle at Delphi to aid in his decision to go to battle.The Oracle was located in a temple that had been erected over a small chasm. The Oracle was a woman considered to posses a certain prophetic wisdom, often spiritual in nature. She would usually babble something almost incoherent, and the elders (priests) would take her word.
I strongly believe that today’s’ military officers should always consult their seniors in ensuring coherent and fruitful missions. Failure to adhere to seniors directives would lead to divergent aims resulting to military disintegration and brutal defeats.
Discipline – Greek soldiers who fought with the Spartan elite at the Battle of Thermopylae were forced to fight because they were slaves. This is supported by the fact that Spartans own a huge number of slaves in Greece. Needless to say Spartan women had an unusual level of rights. They were a bunch of people who in many ways were fascist, and lead to the fall of democracy (Frank Miller, 2004, p.14).
My opinion is that military profession should uphold high morals and should not forcefully recruit people to a profession that one doesn’t like. The military should be persuasive in calling new recruits to their field. The scene of a government officer holding King Leonidas' (Gerard Butler) newborn son above a cliff is disgusting. Such practice of discrimination on issues beyond one control should be done away with in the modern military. All Spartans are raised in such challenging conditions and those who do not survive are unfit to be Spartans
However, king Leonidas discipline from his boyhood to youth life is inviting. He is disciplined to ensure freedom of his country.
Self sacrifice – in the Spartans training, they left their family members to go to camp for rigorous training. This was a great sacrifice for their people the Greece and a remarkable self denial of one home comfort for their nation. Likewise, the modern military officer should be willing to leave the families and other comforts in readiness to train and defend their nations.
Extreme toughness – King Leonidas was determined to fight no matter the death risk to his own life. In fact, he believed he embraced the Oracle sentiment that his death would save Greece, and fought to his death at Battle of Thermopylae. Today, military should carry on their mission till they get the target or either die in the battle (Michell, p.23).
King Leonidas was a great warrior who led Greece out of slavery. He achieved by using his well social skills that enabled him to command loyalty from his people and the council leadership. Moreover, he was determined, brave and always took the front line in his endevour to liberate his people. His life experience urges the present day leaders to take peoples’ interest first before any personal ambition in ensuring nation prosperity.