Leonidas (540-480 BC)
Prefectural Administration of Lakonia
This modern statue stands in the town of Sparta. Leonidas was king of Sparta, of the Agiad dynasty. He became king in 488 BC and succeeded his half-brother (from another mother) Cleomenes I. In 490 BC he married Gorgo, daughter of his uncle Cleomenes, with whom he had a son, Pleistarchus. We know that he fought valiantly against the invading Persians in the straits of Thermopylae, and fell in 480 BC with all the other defenders of the straits (300 Spartans and 700 Thespians). His sacrifice has become a symbol of patriotic self-sacrifice. The Greeks set up a monument on the spot where he fell with his fellow fighters, with an inscription of Simonides’ well-known epigram, “Go, stranger, and in Lacedaemon tell, that here, obeying her behests, we fell.”
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