Friday, November 5, 2010

Battle of Thermopylae

Still interrupting sci-fi weeks.

Here's a narrative I had to write for this online class.  It's a decent retelling of the famous Battle of Thermopylae.  It's nothing new really, and it would have been much better were I allowed 300 more words (ha ha), but I need to blog.

Thermopylae. Our Xerxes had drawn up his army before the two cliffs and sent a scout to see the developments happening at the enemy camp. The horseman returned and reported that the Greeks and their allies numbered a few thousand, 300 of which were Spartans, and that he witnessed the Lacedemonians combing their hair and acting in ways entirely inappropriate for soldiers about to fight. We had heard of the Spartans’ courage and prowess in battle, and this strange behavior of theirs baffled us. Still, we were pleased to hear about the small number of our foes.

Xerxes waited five days before beginning the attack. We expected the battle to be over in an instant, however we were violently driven back by the Spartans whom we outnumbered by a million. It didn’t seem possible that they could suppress the Persian army so well in its huge numbers. We learned that the narrow passage completely prohibited us from exploiting our larger forces, and we were limited to having only a handful of men fight at once. When we grew tired, Xerxes sent in the Immortals to cut down the Spartans, but the elite soldiers did not live up to their name. They too were pushed back by the Spartans, and many received fatal wounds. That day Persian blood flooded the ground, and we learned that although human beings are plentiful, men are few.

The Persian army fared little better the next day, until Ephialtes came to us. A Greek familiar with the surrounding land, in exchange for bribes he informed Xerxes about another way across Thermopylae, over one the mountains. He was a traitor, but served the Persians well. A portion of us took the mountain path he spoke of, and the Phocian defenders stationed there dispersed. We descended the mountain and came up behind the Greeks, much diminished now that many of them had fled back to their homes. But the Spartans and their king, Leonidas, still remained. We didn’t know what kept them behind to fight a lost battle. Was it honor, their law? When we fell on the enemy, they died nobly fighting to the last, and even took some of us down with them.

The Persians won the Battle of Thermopylae, but we lost thousands more soldiers than our enemy Hellas. In that battle, my pride was humbled and I understood the meaning of a true warrior.

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