The Last Stand of the 300 Spartans

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Last Stand of the 300 - The Legendary Battle at ThermopylaeIt is almost impossible to understand how 300 Spartans managed to hold off the million-man Persian army for even a moment, much less seven days. To a man they paid with their lives but their stunning Last Stand assured that their sacrifice would resonate throughout history. Relying on brilliant tactics, lifelong training, and unshakable allegiance, the doomed Spartans achieved the impossible.

The Battle of Thermopylae is literally a textbook case, required reading even to this day at military colleges and officer training around the world. Now, The History Channel offers a definitive perspective on the epic conflict with this instructive and thrilling feature-length presentation.

Transporting dramatizations and incisive graphics put you in the heat of the battle and show the lay of the land. The complications and strategies of the conflict are revealed through careful analysis, and critical moments are reconstructed to show exactly what happened. Discover what the Spartans were fighting for, what made them capable of such heroics acts.

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67 Comments / User Reviews

  1. mick

    American talking heads comparing the stature of the Spartans to chuck norris's delta force..give us a break!! Intro ruined it for me.

  2. steve w

    agree

  3. james e

    haha.!

  4. nick_kcin

    its funny how with the actors they recreate the effects of years of the most intense physical training ever known in the history of the man by getting the guys to grow a bit of stubble. could've got bodybuilder-type guys or something but no, just a light beard will do

    prety interesting though, much better than that shitty movie

  5. Rafael

    Untrustworthy documentary.. The quote "we will fight in the shade" is incorrect at the specific time-line. Xerxes wanted the Spartans to hand over their weapons, and they answered "Molon Lave" which means come and get em, not we will fight in the shade ! Anyway many things are lost in translation, so who am I to judge..

  6. Hua

    hmmm...As this is a History Channel documentary I would not place to much trust in the historical accuracy of this film. It is entertaining although a huge rip off from the movie.

  7. pete dicks

    Interesting but probably inaccurate. This and the APPALLING '300' film are both wasted opportunities to tell the story properly. For some reason everyone forgets the role of the other Greek armies in taking their turn - and dying - on the front line. Nice to hear comments including Thesbians in the last stand, though. Killing the wounded off would be a tactical error - better to leave the wounded to be fed and treated, thereby tying up the enemy resources.

  8. pete dicks

    The 'we will fight in the shade' refers to the number of arrows being used against them, as in...'their numbers will blot out the sun'.
    I'd like to see a really good film about Thermopylae, Salamis and Platea, but don't suppose I ever will. Hollywood's version of historical facts will rule it out, as with every other US film based on history.

  9. Aura

    Is this accurate?

  10. Bolex Man

    Most serious historians estimate that the 300 Spartans plus their allies held off an army of no more than 200 000 Persians, which is still an amazing feat. The film and the graphic novel it was based on are full of cr^p.

  11. pete dicks

    to which book are you referring? I loved 'Tell them in Sparta'

  12. Casan

    300 men against MILLION??? REALLY? 300 well armed man cannot survive a herd of million sheep charging at them, let alone an army. No matter what tactics.

    The people who believe these crab are the same ones who profess that "Delta force" movies by Chuck Norris were based on true encounters.

    At a time of great friction between Iran and the West, some hollywood hot head digs up history and by extension of the words "HELD UP"...decides to paint a Jessica Lynch style of BS.

    America is doing one thing successfully; each generation more and more of the world population is starting to see for what it is.....MORALLY FRAUD!

  13. Casan

    The movie and this documentary did a good job of making many question content of official history books, and show how it can be a victim of human bias and pride. Some historian probably stretched the words "Hold off" to give a parting historical tribute to these "White warriors".

    How long does it take for a million army to settle down for a battle? What records exist as to the actualy happened day to day at the battle?

    Which one is plausible? 1) That the Spartans were just fighting a small contingent of the million men army then as they become a nuisance, the Persian king sent a good force to crash them, just look at the timeline of the Iraq war, where armies are moving much faster than in the past with mechanized equipment, and see how many days it takes for U.S troops just to take out Fellujah? ooooh, I see a future Iraqi movie, "200" or "2000" The story of tough Iraqi insurgents who hold of U.S army for months!!!!" Starring Juba, the legendary sniper.

    or 2) Or they directly engaged a million men, and fought them 7 days!!! Until they lost. This documentary, the spiced version of western history books as to what happened and the movie 300 are all full of crap!

    Funny that hollywood glorifies Spartans, they were a society that kept White slaves, and you are as much a descendant of those slaves than of Spartans.

    Congrats to the Hollywood director who digged up this non-sense at a time of great tension between modern Persia (Iran) and those who claim racial lineage to Spartans (the West). Great job, we need cowards like you to beat the drums of negative sentiments, but will piss at their pant at the first sound of bullets.

  14. whatistruth

    umm watched this one when it came out on history channel, should have been called 5000 greeks with 300 of them being spartans... doesn't sound as tough though does it?

  15. Milton Babb

    I too would like to know about the authencity of this film, I see and hear people talking that would seem to give much credence to the events. However, the costumes and gear also caught my interest, for example the "helments" what or who decided to adopt that d--- helment, just look at one, it is a phallic symbol, more importantly the helment is a "circumsized phallic symbol????? A Hebrew symbol????
    Somebody explain, please explain this if you can.

  16. James G

    what i dont really understand is that the two front lines took on many many persians, when they were outflanked surely they should have just turned half of the 300 around, then 150(roughly) would be defending from the front, and the 150 defending the back, and thats not including the rest of the troops who chose to stay. obviously it would have been extremely hard for like 1300 troops to defeat 300,000-2,000,000 persians, but just because some not so well trained troops left, it surely shouldnt have effected the spartan position? Another point that really frustrates me is the whole layout, if the spartans sent all the force out and the troops that fled to save their home didnt, i reckon greeks may have won. think, in a phew days 7000 troops took on over 20,000 then surely more would have won.

  17. Milton Babb

    The single front line ,was not "out flanked" there was no field area. It should be noted that the Spartans were Hebrew (Dan) as was the vizier(Levite) to Xerxes, this was a plan to the profit from war. The Greeks won at Salamis and Xerxes went home never to attack the Greeks again. Alexander (not his real name) would attack 330bce and capture Persia.

  18. Milton Babb

    The single front line ,was not "out flanked" there was no field area, a few hundred feet. It should be noted that the Spartans were Hebrew (Dan) as was the vizier(Levite) to Xerxes, this was a plan to the profit from war. The Greeks won at Salamis and Xerxes went home never to attack the Greeks again. Alexander (not his real name) would attack and capture Persia in 330 bce.

  19. siso

    Who writes history again???

  20. pete dicks

    siso - sadly it's usually American screen writers who re-write history. All we have to do is watch any film about the trecherous American colonists and their working with their old enemies (the French) to gain indpendance from their Mother Country. Without French, Dutch and Spanish involvement the Rebellion would have been very different

  21. Epicurean_Logic

    @Milton Babb

    You talk absolute, unsubstanciated, speculative, by me a dream where the world according to David Icke is real, rubbish. Alexander wasn't his real name? dont tell me it was Morris and he was a good family man, loved his mother, brother and sisters. It's just that he liked to masquerade as a Greek in his spare time.

    In short. The garbage the spews out of your mouth is without limit and boundaries. Read a book, get a life and stop talking crap about the Jews, or the Greeks for that matter.

  22. Coyote03

    @Milton Babb

    Epicurean_Logic pretty much said it all, you're ideas aren't even speculative, they are just garbage! The Spartans were Hebrews? Your evidence for this is that in this film the symbols seemed like a circumcised penis? Many cultures have phallic imagery, being that (just about) all men have penises, it's a fairly common symbol. Please provide some evidence that shows the Spartans descended from the tribe of Dan, while you're at it provide evidence that Xerxes vizier was Hebrew and descended from the Levites, to wrap it all up please enlighten me on how they conspired to profit from the war? I hope you didn't elude to your answer by talking about Alexander the Great, was he Hebrew also? Whack job's like yourself only hinder progress, racism is a tool of the moron!

  23. robert

    As soon as that twat said delta force I turned it off. It would have been better if he had said 'POWER RANGERS'.

  24. Alex

    TROLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  25. webseitnen anmelden

    hahaahahaa... GOOOD!

  26. catro

    A load of b@##$%&* but what's was the agenda ?

    Unfortunately, it was a JUST HUGE MYTH but aren't we all gullible. Alice in wonderland also met a rabbit.

    In reality, those 300 would be drown in spits.

    But one law governs the Chosen people and why are we mere mortals arguing about.

  27. catro

    By the same comparison, just a few thousand Spartans could annilihated the world/s armies...

    What a Boll_ocks

  28. Simon

    This doc may as well have been narrated by Stallone, I hate when documentaries are too American, it cheapens the entire thing.

  29. Terry

    interesting much better than the movie

  30. andy

    having speculated history garbled at me by a brooklyn plumber is just too funny.
    things like when one says to another during dinner.. they repeat lines from history like it was from a social club meeting that morning.
    and are all americans doumentaries narrated by the same guy who does cheaters ??? his "sensationalised" voice as he inflects his tones to add drama is pathetic

  31. neoww

    its interesting, because i hope a lot of you insulting the accuracy and analysis aren't first language english since for the most part i'm seeing terrible grammar and spelling from the lot of you, while you try to say you know better than those involved in this film who make their living researching what they talk about in this film.

  32. Alx

    ah come on neoww who are you going to trust the people who make the study of hisory their lifes work or random wackjobs on the internet?

  33. Alx

    btw the story(myth) as we greeks know it about the people getting their hands choped off at marathon says that Kinegiros held on to a ship for the rest of the army to burn and had both hands and his head choped of one at the time as he held on finaly with his teeth to make sure those persians never leave Marathon. this guys version makes much more sense lol

  34. Alx

    oh yeah and Kinegiros was brother of Aisxulos so i guess that solves how the story started lol.

    More ancient greek trivia and most likely myth : Dienekis, the spartan that says "then we'll have our battle in the shade" was part Athenian(his mother ofc), a friend of Aisxulos and Kinegiros with witch he constantly wrestled for fear of been weak when his spartan training started.

  35. Jonas

    Yanks are incapable of telling a mature, truthful and level-headed story...without bragging or sanctimonious saccharin.

  36. Bjd Dt

    You really can't watch such crap. There is not a single historical source that ever really described the battle. They are talking about myths as if they were reality. The first records of historians of that battle were made 2 generations after it took place. By that time all that was left were stories people told to their children. There is almost nothing that was written at that time about what happened there. Historians still have such little idea of what took place there that the approximated number of troops persians had are only narrowed down to 10-100 thousand. That is how accurate we know the battle. A million man army is so unbelievably stupid. How can you go on tv with that? A 100 thousand man army is already scratching very hard at the mark of what was even possible to supply at that time.
    Plus it would be a day to cheer for everyone living in Sparta that time (except a very very small group of warriors). Just for your information, the world has rarely seen a more vicious and inhuman state than that of Sparta. A slaves (pretty much everyone except for the warrior class)) life literally was worth as much as a punching balls. When the Spartans were not fighting other countries they kept in shape by murdering they're own population. They were hated and feared by the greeks and were pretty much thinking of the world as the nazis did of jews.
    In short religious fanatics who thought their entire meaning of being was to kill as many people as possible.

  37. Itay Avi

    Herodotus wrote only one generation afterwards, which means he could have easily spoken to his seniors who personally fought the Persians.
    You are absolutely correct about the size of the army though-- there is no way of knowing, and so all figures are highly exaggerated estimates.
    Finally, in this documentary, they are not praising the Spartan way of life. In fact, they only refer to such totalitarianism as an essential defence for Athenian democracy against the Persian invasion.

  38. Layla Phelps

    God! Why do we get bashed for EVERYTHING. We're cheap???? I suppose an English accent would make this doc more 'sophisticated'?

  39. kelamuni

    informative doc.

  40. Cas2011

    What a lunacy that passes for history here.

  41. Xbow

    Typical result for the time if you have the terrain. Have a gander at the battle of Watling street in 60AD where the Romans lured the Celts into attacking them in a narrow cul-de-sac. There one and a half legions (7500 to 9000) Romans slaughtered 80,000 to 120,000 Celts in one day.

    The Persian army was probably no larger than 100,000 combat troops and perhaps an equal number of camp followers and support.That would be a HUGE army in those times since most armies foraged for subsistence while on the move. No refrigeration, No MRE's, No canned food and limitited ability to carry, store and purify water. Considering a daily ration of 3lbs of food and 1gallon of water per man a 300,000 man army on the march would consume 450 tons of food and 1,200 tons of water per day. That seems to be absolutely unsustainable.

  42. Alpha Propellerhead

    Stephen Pressfield is the author of "Gates of Fire" and anybody who would criticize his commentary is a sophomoric dumbass. (The Greeks of the region made him an honorary Spartan, and his book is taught at West Point, Annapolis, Quantico... absolutely awesome read. When you're invited to Sparta to become an honorary citizen, your criticism will be interesting.)

    Having said that: Based on the imagery in this documentary, this has to have been the most amazing battle ever because tens of thousands of men were hacked to death but there's not a drop of blood, urine, feces, guts, brains, loose soil etc, on their armor, shields, armor, spear tips... Pressfield's book paints a much more gruesome and realistic picture. Dienekes must have been one of the greatest warriors in the history of civilization.

    Occupy Thermopylae: Fight them in the shade!

  43. John Briody

    As an Irishman we have allways been the underdog,yet our most famous battle is The Battle of CLONTARF, were our leader BRIAN BOROU united the tribes and fought overwelming odds to defeat the gretest and well trained wariors of the Nordic armies to keep our independance and culture of brehan law alive,and also sacraficed himself in the process.All though we were tribsmen I salute the Spartins for cradling and given the west Democracy.It is a system many millions have fought to save and we must allways be vigillent not to lose sight of that.The SPARTANS gave us the greatest gift imaginal we must allways answer her call and REMEMBER that sacrafice.The wildgese were far flung but allways fought for the right side.I have lost countless relations and ancestors doing just that including my Father who fought for democracy and in the service of peace.

  44. minority report

    200,000 to 2million Persian soldiers vs 300 Spartans?
    Even I could have lead the Persians over the Greeks just by surrounding them.
    I'm sure that pass was not totally inaccessable (why would the Persians land in such a place? that would be utterlay stupid). Climb or walk around a tens of miles just to surround these spartans is an obvious strategy.

    And how does this event (Greek vs Persia) give democracy to the West? Even if Greece was destroyed, the ideas lives on, right?

    The West can thank the death of millions on Native Americans and the Black Slaves by the Europeans for the real growth of Democracy.

  45. alan moore

    how did 300 hold of one million for seven days, the answer is simple they didn't. the such for the Persian numbers comes from Herodotus who was probably enflating the size of the Persian army, which numbered probably somewhere between 150'000 to 200'000. also the Spartans were not along, almost 1'500, Thebans, thespiand and Helots remained behind with them after most of the other Greeks, and these men died to a man with the Spartans, but history in gloryfying the Spartan rule has overlooked the sacrifice of these other Greeks

  46. alan moore

    i suffer from Aspergers so i would kindly ask the reader to excuse any spelling mistakes or bad grammer

  47. Bvkaos

    This is ''Spartan 300 last stand revisionism'' Hate to use the term but lol, no .... lolz. its 'ancients history'' its 10 percent history and 90 percent myth. But its nice to see not everyone is buying in to the Hollywood pro war agenda.
    dont listen to me im drunk ..... cant beleive im posting this

  48. Nik Cholidis

    I am afraid you are missing the point. The end of democratic city-states in Greece by the imposition of Empire by the Persians would only strangle the newly-devised method of governing known as Democracy. The Idea was born and nurtured in ancient Greece whether you like it or not. What came out of that in the centuries since is only a travesty, a monstrocity.
    It is a well known daily occurance here in the 'West' to have falcification attempts about the patronage of Democracy. Even though the Spartans did not live in a democratic state, their sacrifice against a superior-in-numbers- Imperial army helped to save the Greek states and in doing so, allow time for Democracy to flourish, evolve and be transplanted all over the world (with limited success in my opinion) ever since.
    Slavery and the Genocide of the Native Americans unfortunately have nothing to do with Democracy. They were and are a crime against Humanity and maybe one day the US of A can explain to the rest of the world what happened to all the millions of them now 'lost...'

  49. Michael Curtis

    sorry but you also do not fully getting the point on the democracy, although it COULD be argued that Athens' democracy was pure, in reality it wasnt. maybe more so than what we have today, which is closer to an oligarchy, but nevertheless, it was not a true democracy

  50. usgrant1688

    Thanks for the warning so I wouldn't waste my time.

  51. Saeed Karimian

    Oh my god. this film is really big lie about history.
    I think you must read history of Persia firstly and then make a documentary movie.
    sorry for you.

  52. Indira Mayea

    I don't know how much you know about world history, but US of A did almost nothing to their native people. In my country Cuba, Spaniard killed all the natives, including Florida's natives who were brought to Cuba after they left Florida. What do you think about that crime? Also look at how native people still been treated today in Central and South America. Then, you tell world about crime against Humanity. At least in today’s world even natives could make a difference in US of A if they want to. Unfortunately, because of the abuse they went through, their culture is too corrupt.

    I am not in favor of any country, I just don’t like to point a finger to judge. Crimes against Humanity have been taking place all through history and every country has added a portion to it, even today.

    On the other hand BCE history is and has always been unsure.

  53. catili

    This is myth and lie, and it makes me laugh when i see this historians with Ph.D taking it with so emotions hahaha damnnn they r paid very well or they are stupid because u cant belive a think that herodotus or who told it hahah he was greek imagin him writing we did that, we killed like this, they where millions we where just 300 hunderd, they where stupid we where so smart, thats what he is saying how persia become so strong??? by loosing from 300 hundred spartans?? hahah this is a myth and a 95% lie that herotodus wrote and of course i dont belive he imagined that we in this time would believe it like this because he would make greece and leonidas two times stronger and better then he just did... what we should do and history do its to read the other part of history the persian one and try to find a middle or something and not just like that.

  54. Vukasin B-Cashin Jovic

    There were not a million Persians, there were about 100.000-200.000. And there were not only 300 Spartans, but also another 700 Thespieis (there is a monument for these soldiers close to Leonidas' statue near Thermopylae) and an additional 6000 Athenian troops who were there the first few days.

    When the Athenians found out that they were going to be surrounded they retreated, while the Spartans stayed to give the rest of the Ancient Greek world time to prepare and because in Sparta it was considered a disgrace to 'run' from a battle. The Thespieis, not wanting to be cowards in the eyes of the Spartans, stayed and died with them.

    That being said, for 1000 soldiers to hold off a force 100-200 times larger than their own for that amount of time is still an amazing feat, and nobody can take that away from the men that died that day.

  55. Keith Thomas

    US did almost nothing to the Natives? You don't know much about the history here and the genocide of native people. There are barely any Native Americans left due to war diseases. The natives started out helping the europeans and they were just too greedy and wanted more resources and land.

  56. Danijel Stevanovic

    @facebook-100001971957379:disqus
    -If you think Thermopyle was just a myth how can you believe that everything that has been wroten about Spartans is true? All that is known about Spartans has originated by philosophers or historians of other rival city-states. Arent you rushing to conclusion by calling them nazis?
    -Keep also in mind that greeks did push persians out ... so isnt the end result all that metters?
    And who told you that Persia have had a mil fighting man? As far as i know .. read Herodotus History... they have had about 300 000 soldiers.. Its general opinion that Persia had about 2 mil man in Greece but NOT only fighting man but also slaves and other type of escorts ... greeks have had about 8 000 at Thermopyle.. Herodotus even gives you the number of soldiers that each city-state have send to Thermopyle. He doesnt give an exact number number of persians but the dif was about 50 to 1. He even names some of the Persian units.
    PS - You really need to do some reading if you are interested to actualy learn something about this.

    Guys stop watching movies like 300 and than bash an actual event that took place. That kind of movies are fictional and they were made to make money. Holywood didnt invent Thermopyle ... Thermopyle was praised not only by greeks but most of the ancient world, later Romans and so on ...Greek-Persian war has catapulted Greek people so they can later become not only military but also cultural and scientific superpower. Just like Punic wars did to Romans..

  57. Bonnie

    I actually visited the site in Greece, saw the documented archeology, artifacts and monuments plus spoke with the certified tour guide..it was real, is part of their history and an amazing feat of military planning.

  58. S de Vere

    There was no million-man Persian army. 25,000- 50,000 is the more likely estimate.

  59. John911

    the video credits all of the Athenians that fought alongside the 300 Spartans, as well as the navy...even after being surrounded. plainly put, 'some' of the commenters here are reacting to the name of the documentary and not it's contents. it was a good watch.

  60. Thinker

    "but US of A did almost nothing to their native people."

    Wut?

  61. Indira Mayea

    Dear native people in the country I came from, are completely gone since 1700's. A population of about 200,000 complete gone, not even one left. Now compare that. At least in USA there are groups that can tell the story. In Central America (ex. Colombia) in today's world they are still being killing to be push out of their land. Now try to bit that one.
    Yes, I know a lot about history, read:Lies my Teacher Told Me, it has everything American History book left out, to cover the cruel truth.
    I just don't like people like you who are only pointing at one side without looking at the rest of the world.
    My point is, read more every culture has it own guilt trip.
    Or as I always say "if you were not there, if you didn't see what really happened with your own eyes, don't take it personal"

  62. Keith

    The point you're making goes against itself. You say you don't like when people tell one side of the story, but you say the US did nothing which is completely false. I would say the Europeans did a lot anywhere they went. I tell the side of the story that I know, but I don't deny any other people's history. Obviously if you talk to some people from the US, you will hear more about what happened in the US. And not that it makes a big difference, but I am Native so this is personal to me.
    The Europeans did more damage than killing off one population here in the US, it's in the millions. So to say the US did nothing to the Natives is absurd and that's not mentioning the assimilation and poor treatment that followed.

  63. Naidster Doolan

    Obviously the best researched, well presented documentary of the last stand. Brilliant work and I loved the documentary :D

  64. Rayan

    this is bull*hit you must be so s*upid to believe this go do some research about persia and how persians were ,,,, miserable movie

  65. Pete

    Let me guess. You're ...........Persian?

  66. Konstantinos koskoletos

    Just for the history of it, Leonidas' s comment "Molon Lave" [come and get them] has nothing to do with "fight in the shade". The second was said at different time during the Spartans stand. Let's not twist any more the history. Herodotus was only one..

  67. Indira

    Keith, I did not said that in USA they did nothing, I said they did almost nothing compared to what happened in other countries and still happens today. If you read Lies my Teacher told me, you will learnerd a lot not only about the Caribean but also about the USA. Yes! I have lived in the USA for the past 20 years. I read and I question everything I read, to make sure information is as accurate as possible.
    As I mention before every country has its guilt. History is there not to be judged but to teach us not to make the same mistakes. As long as people keep pointing fingers to the past and not fixing the preset we will keep going in circles

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