Friday, March 2, 2007

300

Before Christ, there was chaos.

From that chaos arose philosophy, art, and democracy emanating from Greek thought.

Philosophy to understand the deeper meaning of life. Art to appreciate that deeper meaning of life. Democracy to allow the people to engage in this deeper meaning of life.

This was the fertile soil called Western Civilization where Jesus walked and preached in Anno Domini 33.

Prior to His arrival, there was still anarchy in the pre-Christian world. A world that was bloodthirsty, unsympathetic, uncaring, ruthless, merciless, and without God.

A world where man was the center of the universe, selfishness ruled. With no God there was no love nor life, simply death.

Emperor Xerxes ruled most of the world known to western man at the time. His Persian Empire lorded over from the Indus Valley southwest to Egypt and northwest to the Greek frontier. His armies crushed anyone in his path. Emperor Xerxes eliminated entire cities, enslaved women and children, and put to death all surviving men in his wake. His dominion was lusting for more power and the Greeks were standing in his path to man made glory.

The very same Greeks that produced Socrates who philosophized that "Wait! Wait for a wise man who is to come, who will tell us how we are to conduct ourselves before God and man." These very same Greeks that produced Plato's Republic and the idea of democracy and the beautiful architecture of Athens.

These Greeks represented the only civilized remnant of humanity left to conquer by Emperor Xerxes and the Persians.

What prevented them from being conquered and destroyed? They were technologically advanced, disciplined, confident, sophisticated in thought, but small in numbers and even worse, disunited.

In 480 Before Christ (BC) Emperor Xerxes brought his great million man army (classical sources claim more, so we'll use conservative numbers here) across the Aegean and began marching on the disunited Greeks. Xerxes and his Persians needed to walk through the narrow pass at Thermopylae before entering the open plain and the rest of Greece to overrun.

Desperate to prevent their destruction, the Athenians and the Spartans put aside their hostilities to provide a united front for all of Greece. The Spartans were known for their minimalist way of living, or rather Spartan way of living (where the term arrives from) and their warrior ethic. A common Spartan wives tale told to their husbands when heading off to war was "come home with your shield or on it".

All of Greece were well aware of the Spartan prowess on the battlefield and if Sparta marched towards Xerxes and his Persians, then all of Greece would rally around the Spartans to face the million man army of Xerxes. Unfortunately the Persian war machine was marching towards Thermopylae during the Greek holy festival called the Olympic Games, which in Spartan tradition meant abstaining from warfare during this time. The ever pious Spartans would not send their army, but only 300 men, Spartans all of them led by King Leonidas.

On September 17, 480 BC 300 Spartans and Leonidas engaged the million man Persian army at the narrow pass in Thermopylae while Xerxes watched from a distance. This battle became the greatest last stand in the history of humanity. Greater than the Alamo, Verdun, and Puebla.

For a couple of days the Spartans not only held back the Persians, they even went on the offensive and were able to pull off commando raids at night. So confidant were the Spartans, they could be seen during the intermission of warfare sitting out in the open field, sharpening their swords and grooming their beards to mock the Persians. One Persian emissary told Leonidas to surrender or die under the onslaught of a million arrows that would block out the rays of the sun. King Leonidas rebuffed him by saying, "then we'll fight under the shade". Another time the Persian emissary asked for the surrender of their weapons in which Leonidas replied, "come and get them from our cold, dead hands".

Ironically, the Spartans did not lose because of overwhelming Persian strength, but from a Greek traitor who told Xerxes a secret shortcut to surround the Spartans. On that day the Spartans died to the very last man. Each time the Persians asked for their surrender and each time the Spartans replied by rushing their enemies.

All of Greece were in awe of Spartan bravery and resistance at this great act of sacrifice. This sacrifice bought enough time for the Athenian navy to destroy the Persian fleet at Salamis which also became the greatest rout of a small force over a larger force. Later Xerxes returned to Persia leaving behind a smaller army to finish off the Spartans and the rest of the Greeks, fortunately for us living today, the united Greek forces defeated the Persian army at the battle of Plataea.

Greece was free.

Philosophy, art, and democracy were able to grow and flourish and prepare for Christs Kingdom.

Post-Mortem: I've viewed the original movie titled 300 Spartans and it is true to the history, but not so good script and cinematography. Fortunately Hollywood remade the movie based on a graphic novel of this history aptly titled 300. The trailer is amazing and I am certainly waiting to watch this myself.

Warning: Parts of the trailer shows sexual deviancy.

To learn more about the pre-Christian world click here and here.

To learn more about the Battle of Thermopylae click here and here.

To learn more about the original movie, 300 Spartans, click here.

To learn more about the new movie, 300, click here.

UPDATED: HotAir has 15 minutes of new footage of 300. For the video click here.

2 comments:

skeetor said...

I am so there, like noon on friday.

Tito said...

I'm organizing my History club and I to view the movie together. If the trailer is any indication of the movie, it should be the best action epic since Gladiator!

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