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History of Ancient Greece: Analysis of the Battle of Thermopylae

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Ancient Greek warfare and conflict was a common reoccurrence during archaic and classical periods due to the fact that the city states were quarrelsome whether it be because of religious difference ( the worshiping of different Greek gods) , political and philosophical differences.

The common soldiery of ancient Greece were free citizens primary consisted of farmers or members of society with low social standing (not like those of mathematicians and philosophers whom had high statuses). Many of the solidary and free citizens were classified as hoplites who were essentially heavily armed foot soldiers who typically wielded short swords, spears and shield. The armament of the hoplite was a bronze panoply (which consisted of a bronze helmet, cuirass and greaves) however, due to the fact that citizens had to supply their own armour, some hoplites only wore the armour that they could afford and a full suit of armour was seen as an opportunity to display wealth.

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One of the most infamous examples of solidary within ancient Greece was that of Sparta who, as a society , idealised the warrior lifestyle. Further to this the soldiers within Sparta were organised into bands f up to 40 men, whom ate, slept and trained together communally in order to from a fellowship with on another. Sparta however, gained its heroic ascribed status due to the bravery and compliance to authority they obtained which was demonstrated in the immortal battle of Thermopylae during the Greek-Persian war in 480 BC. The battle of Thermopylae was fought in a narrow coastal passage 15 metres wide where 300 Sparta’s accompanied by their king Leonidas as well as 6,699 other infantrymen made a stand. The battle itself lasted for tree days with the Greek force preferring close range combat whereas the Persians preferring long range skirmishing using bows and arrows which were said to ‘block out the sun with its volleys’. However due to the heavy armament of the Greek forces the arrows made little impact so as a result a three day melee broke out. However in the ned the Greek forces retreated due to a back passage being discovered which allowed for a flank by the Persian to take place. In the end however , king Leonidas and his 300 Spartans stayed behind to cover the retreat of the survivors and delay the Persians as long as possible, ultimately resulting in the death of king Leonidas and his men. This heroic display of bravery has gone down in history as ‘ as one of the most significant last stands of all time’ and demonstrates the fearlessness solidary of Sparta.

One Greek warfare tactic that, at its time was revolutionary was the creation of the phalanx -which was essentially a tightly packed , deep formation of hoplites that where armed with two handed long pikes that came to be known as the sarissa . the phalanx was excellent at repelling cavalry charges as well as negating the charges from enemy troops by not allowing them to get close (due to the wall of spears they faced). One of the greatest uses and employment of the phalanx was that of Philip of Macedon, and to a greater extent, alexander the great, whom combined the phalanx with cavalry on the flanks and a backline of light skirmishers. This strategic warfare formation and employment would consequentially help aid alexander the great in his conquest of Asia minor, Persia and Egypt.

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History of Ancient Greece: Analysis of the Battle of Thermopylae. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from
“History of Ancient Greece: Analysis of the Battle of Thermopylae.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
History of Ancient Greece: Analysis of the Battle of Thermopylae. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Jun. 2023].
History of Ancient Greece: Analysis of the Battle of Thermopylae [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Jun 10]. Available from:
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