The defense of the Pass of Thermopylae, fought in 480 BCE between
several united Greek city-states led by King Leonidas of Sparta,
against the Persian army amassed by Xerxes the Great was depicted in
the 2007 Warner Bros. blockbuster 300. Its adaptation from the
comic book series created by author and illustrator Frank Miller was
inspired by the events of approximately 2,500 years ago, which were
recorded by the historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus. While this movie
raised awareness to one of history's iconic last stands, its
controversial revisionism, specifically the depiction of the warriors
of Greece and Persia, was criticized by scholars and academics familiar
with the battle, in addition to the Greek and Persian/Iranian
Despite the appropriateness of its R-rating which
prohibited under-17 audiences from gaining admittance to theaters, the
accessibility of 300 via DVD, along with its continued airing
on cable TV have not prevented young students from watching the movie
at home. Therefore, it is important to advocate the Capstone Press
title 300 Heroes: The Battle of Thermopylae, written by Terri
Dougherty. Offered in libraries and bookstores in the juvenile
literature sections, it is precisely the type of book which younger students should be exposed to in lieu of Hollywood's version, which
owes more than quite a bit to embellishment.
'300 Heroes: The Battle of Thermopylae' by Terri Dougherty (c) Capstone Press
As is evident by its title, 300 Heroes
does concentrate on the Spartans, however, it also makes mention of the
other Greek warriors who were integral to the defense of Thermopylae.
Profusely illustrated with maps and images, the book offers a much more accurate portrayal of the Persian army and its leader,
Xerxes the Great. Furthermore, several of the myths are debunked, one
of which is providing a more realistic size of the Persian infantry,
which Herodotus noted as totaling approximately 2 million men.
300 Heroes is written in
an engaging manner which will appeal to younger students in the 4th-6th
grades. Thermopylae, as with all military engagements is detailed with
facts and figures, however, they are presented in this book in such a
manner as to not overwhelm the young reader. The images contained
within only help reinforce the heroism that was displayed by both the
Greek and Persian forces during one of ancient history's most famous
battles, thereby, making this title essential reading for the classroom.
Terri Dougherty, 300 Heroes: The Battle of Thermopylae
Capstone Press, 2009 Pp. 32
Author's notes - Image courtesy of Capstone Press
John Trikeriotis is a lecturer of ancient Greek warfare and maintains the website 300spartanwarriors.com. As a member of the Leonidas Expeditions, which is comprised of academics, authors and scholars, he will be traveling to the battlefield of Thermopylae to locate several areas pivotal to the battle. You can follow him on Google+ andTwitter.
This article was contributed by JOHN TRIKERIOTIS, Special Contributor for PersianMirror.