Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review: The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans and the Forgotten Citizen-Soldiers Who Fought with Them by in60Learning

Title: The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans and the Forgotten Citizen-Soldiers Who Fought with Them
Author: in60Learning
Publication: January 22nd 2018
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History
Purchase Link: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Most people know about the Battle of Thermopylae, even if they don’t recognize the name. During the second Persian invasion of Greece, 300 Spartans fought against Xerxes I’s forces on a narrow mountain pass. With such cinematic details, no wonder this sensational battle inspired the blockbuster film 300. However, both the film and popular imagination miss many important details about this battle. This concise history sheds light on the thousands of Greek citizen-soldiers who fought alongside the Spartans, forever changing the course of Greek identity and nationhood.

"These [men] are Sparta's walls."
—King Agesilaus when asked why Sparta had no walls.

When thinking of The Battle of Thermopylae most people (myself included) probably only think of the 2006 movie 300 by director Zack Snyder, where a force of 300 Spartans fights the Persians. However, thanks to this book by in60Learning I learned this definitely wasn't the case. It states that many representatives of Greece were present at the battle. Three hundred Spartans did fight there but so did 5700-7200 Grecian hoplites. Hoplites were citizen-soldiers of Greek city-states. 

I love how all city-states, especially the Athenians and the Spartans (since they were the largest power at the time) had their issues with one another but when faced with the threat of the Persian, they came together and fight. I've always had a fascination with ancient Greece, especially Sparta so I thought this book was really fascinating. I basically couldn't read fast enough to absorb all the information. It was all truly compelling and made for a very good read.

At 37 pages it's already a short and straight-to-the-point book, so I flew through it in no time. I can't express enough how these in60Learning books are so easy to read as well as interesting and educational. I'd highly recommend them. Also, although the book is mainly about The Battle of Thermopylae (obviously) it also has some interesting information about the ancient world. I can't imagine that not everyone is at least a little bit intrigued by all of that.

5 interesting facts I learned:

  • The modern adjective 'Spartan', meaning to have an indifference to comforts and luxeries, comes from the lifestyle of the ancient Spartan people.

  • Possessions were held in common. This means that if a Spartan needed to borrow dogs or horses for hunting he could borrow his neighbor's and vice versa.

  • Children were considered the equal responsibility of all. A neighbour was just as free to reward or punish a child, as was the child's own family.

  • The upbringing of children was heavy regulated. When a child was born, the newborn would be presented to the elders of their specific tribe where they would judge the strength and physical structure of the child and then decide whether the child would be kept or exposed to the elements and left to die.

  • Sparta held games and contests of strength and fitness for men and women alike. The women of Sparta were known to work out and keep fit just like the men, which the other Greek city-states found odd.

Some photos and pictures related to The Battle of Thermopylae:

View of the Thermopylae pass at the area of the Phocian Wall. In ancient times the coastline was where the modern road lies, or even closer to the mountain.
{photo is public domain}

Map showing Greek and Persian advances to Thermopylae and Artemisium
{photo is public domain}

Greek phalanx formation based on sources from the Perseus Project
{photo is public domain}

Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques-Louis David, 1814. This is a juxtaposition of various historical and legendary elements from the Battle of Thermopylae.
{photo is public domain}

Check out my other in60Learning review:

More in60Learning reviews to come soon!


  1. Man I get why the 300 spartans makes for a good story but come on, the hoplites should have been included too!

  2. Great review! I really need to read more about this period, it has always fascinated me but I don't know too much about it (yet). Have a wonderful week!

    1. This would be a perfect book for you to start with, I think. It's easy to read and quick! :D

  3. The things I learn with your reviews ;) It really sounds like another fascinating read, and your post is great!

    1. I feel like I've only been posting nonfiction reviews lately. I swear I do read other books too LOL xD

  4. I have not seen that movie yet, but I am super intrigued now! You are always enlightening me with your non-fiction reviews! I am not sure that I even knew that much about this time in history. :)

  5. Hi, Stephanie! I'm now trying to catch up and comment back on the blogs of all of those SUPER NICE people like YOU, who have commented on mine!! <3 <3 :) :)

    WOW!! This sounds SO fascinating!! I need to get a hold of these in60Learning books!! They're so concise, yet so informative!

    I LOVE ancient Greece myself, but my fascination is with Athens. So I'm VERY interested in Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle!

    I don't know if I could ever watch "300". From what I've seen of it (the trailer), it's a VERY violent movie. However, I do love the special "look" it has. It's like there's some sort of filter or something over the entire film. I'm going to research that!

    Thanks for another WONDERFUL nonfiction post! The photos made it even MORE interesting!!

    Thanks as well for being such a frequent commenter on my blog!! HUGS!!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)


Share your thoughts! ♥