“For Sparta!” a young Spartan commander yelled to his troops as the Persian hordes approached their defensive lines. The battle had begun. Roaring, the Persians charged into the Spartans only to be slaughtered. Slashing and jabbing, the vastly superior Spartans massacred the Persian troops with their superior weapons and renowned training, but they just kept on coming.
“We must fall back!” the Commander shouted to his troops as the battle progressed, but his troops could not hear him over the din of the battle.
As nightfall approached, the Persians managed to break through the lines, forcing a mass rout of the Spartans back to another line.
“We must hold a little longer or Greece will fall!” shouted the Spartan Commander as he impaled a weak Persian through his mouth with his dory. This was the Battle of Thermoplyae.
So they did, 300 Spartans held Thermoplyae for three days against 300,000 Persians until they were all killed, resulting in a Pyrrhic victory for the Persians.
The Battle of Thermoplyae is a good example of Sparta’s unique military capability, still recognized today nearly 2500 years ago. Although Sparta’s iconic military strength is usually associated with the bravery, skill, and professionalism of its soldiers one must acknowledge the equipment, training and tactics of the Spartan soldier which made him Superior to all other infantry in the Ancient times (with the exception of the Roman Legions).
The first aspect to understand Sparta’s military strength was their equipment. Spartan armor was similar to that of other Greek city-states with its bronze greaves, muscled chest plate, and a helmet with cheek plates. One notable difference was that the Spartans wore red capes although they weren’t ever worn in battle.
In terms of weapons, the Spartans used iron fighting tools like their primary weapon, a 7-9 foot spear called the Dory, a key component to the Hoplites weaponry and one of the basic components to the Phalanx. The Spartans also used secondary weapons such as the Xiphos, a 12-18 inch short sword, or the Spartan’s signature Kopis, a 20 inch curved sword used to hack instead of cut. Spartan weapons didn’t evolve very much since the Spartans used the weapons and armor of their elders. Because of this, it was okay if you lost your spear or sword, but it was a disgrace to lose shield since it was passed down by elders, and had your family symbols on it. (ancientmilitary)
Another aspect that formed the brave and skilled Spartan soldier was the training. Believe it or not, Spartan culture was so militaristic that the fastest/strongest boys were married off to the fastest/strongest girls, resulting in boys that were faster/stronger than their parents! Not only that, Spartan Elders threw any infant whom they deemed as weak, puny, or deformed off a cliff into a chasm (called “the Deposits”) next...