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Suggestion for a monument construction in Thermopyles (=Hot Gates)

 
Hot Gates: A heroic place that is world wide known from the battle that took place in 480 B.C. between 300 Spartans, 700 Thespieis and the numerous Persians. Leonidas the first, son of Anaxandrides, who enthroned in Sparta in 488 B.C., was in charge of the Greek troops.
 
Eight years after his enthroning 60 years old Leonidas was told to stop the Persian invasion with the help of his allies in the narrow pass of Hot Gates. At that epoch there were three narrow passes. At the second narrow pass was built the fortress of Fokieis where Greek warriors have camped. Today the narrow passes do not exist.
 
It is well known that the battle in Hot Gates lasted only three days. Before the battle king Xerxes sent messengers to Greeks in order to make them surrender their weapons. King Leonidas, as a true Spartan warrior answered to him: ďCome and get themĒ. Leonidasís answer made Xerxes go mad. He really believed that with his outnumbered army would scare easily a bunch of Greek warriors.
Artistic Representation

 


Transcript of the monument dedicated to the 300 fallen Spartans in Hot Gates

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The first day of the battle the Persian attack was cruel as they were coming towards the Greek troops. Despite the non stop attacks Persians couldnít break the Greek resistance. Xerxes himself couldnít believe in his very own eyes of how few Greeks could not be defeated by his army. He orders then Idarnis to attack with the special forces of that time the so called Immortals (they were called Immortals because every warrior who has been killed in the battle field was instantly substituted by another). Unfortunately for Xerxes neither the Immortals could defeat the Spartans.

The second day of the battle, at dawn, new Persian messengers were sent to the Greek army camp. When Xerxes messengers reached the camp they saw few Greeks washing their hair, others sharpening their swords and others swimming nearby. The Spartans noticed them without reacting to their presence. The messengers tried to persuade them to make peace with Xerxes but in vain. They tried afterwards to scare them by telling them that they were so few but Spartans said that when they fight they donít usually count. They also said to them that Persian arrows are so many that can cover the sun. Listening to these words, a Spartan soldier named Dienikes answers coldly: ďIt is better, we will under the shadowĒ. As Xerxes learns what has happened to the Greek army camp he orders to attack them again without any success. However, the same night Efialtes (his name means nightmare) reveals to the Persians a secret passage on the mountain Kallidromo, which it leads straight behind the Spartan warriors.

Leonidas, meanwhile, was informed for the treason. He orders then his allies to abandon the battle field as soon as possible because now death was both certain and inevitable. For him of course and for all the Spartans abandoning a battle was out of the question. The Spartan law was clear enough. No Spartan is allowed to return home alive if he is not the winner of the battle. Leonidas though, made an exception and allowed a blind soldier named Evritos to return home but Evritos refused to betray the laws of his homeland.  Along with the Spartans remained at the battle field Dimofilos and his 700 Thespieis. During the night, as Diodoros Sikeliotis mentions, all Greeks ate their last supper and afterwards they attacked at the Persian army camp following Leonidasís orders. Leonidasís demand was to penetrate in the Persian army and kill Xerxes himself. The Persian army was in panic because they thought that they were attacked by all Greek army and they even believed that Idarnis and his 20.000 Immortals were killed. The Greeks managed to reach Xerxes tent but unfortunately he had escaped. That night Leonidas was killed and the remaining alive 200 Spartans tried to protect his body.

As Herodotus mentions, many battles were given for Leonidasís body. Spartans made the Persians retreat four times! At dawn however, the 20.000 Immortals, who had followed Efialtes to the secret passage, arrived at the battle field and Spartans were forced to go to a small hill named Kolonos. There, the Spartans   made a circle around their kingís body in order to protect him from the enemyís brutality. Diodoros Sikeliotis clarifies that the Persians, being afraid of Spartans bravery, started to throw their arrows from a long distance till all Spartans were killed.
The battle in Hot Gates came finally to an end with the heroic resistance of 300 Spartans and 700 Thespieis who preferred to die for freedom. Their sacrifice was and still is a symbol of humanís capacity against all those who disrespect the human values and desire strongly to subjugate both spirit and body.

At the monthly magazine ďElliniki AgogiĒ an article of the architect and writer Charis Skarlakides was published. The architect proposes the construction of a monument which will represent the last scene of the battle. Its exact position will be behind from the already existing Leonidasís statue.

According to Skarlakides, the shape both of the monument and the ramp will be spiral just like the golden trace ÷, which is the only one that preserves the same shape no matter how it grows.


Ground plan of the monument from which the spiral construction can be seen

Inside the monument will be placed the statues of the Spartans and at the centre Leonidasís body and nearby a torch always in flame in order to honor those who gave their lives so as next generations can enjoy freedom.  The order that has been suggested by him is Dorian like the circular monuments of 4th century B.C., in Epidavrus and in Delphi.


In the internal part of the monument will be presented the last 200 Spartans  who protect with their shields  Leonidas's body

The architect suggests also the construction of a second monument dedicated to Thespieis, the built of a theatre, a museum and also a center for further information upon strategic, armament and battle tactics in ancient Greece.
We support every private initiative and we only hope that the Hellenic state will do everything in order to build such monument. It is very important for all of us to remember and to honor as well those who fought against all conquerors and they managed to win at the end for democracy, civilization and freedom. After all, we do have the right to remember the glorious actions of our ancestors.

By Julia Piperidou

 

Bibliography

1) Magazine "Elliniki Agogi" Number of issue 63/116, April-May 2007
2) Encyclopedia "Paideia"
Created: 01/07/2007
Updated: -

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