Thursday, October 12, 2006

The 300 Teaser Trailer

The Battle of Thermopylae is one of the classic battles of Western history and a quintessential few against many story. A few years ago, Frank Miller wrote an acclaimed comic book adaptation of the story and a film based on Miller's adaptation is scheduled to be released early next year. I couldn't be more excited. I am a big fan of the story, and of the cheesy film version The 300 Spartans by Rudolph Mate. I expect great things from the latest version, which seems like it will be filled with common Spartan wit.

Watch the trailer to get an example of Spartan comments, but know that many of the best lines were not written by Miller. Rather they are matters of historical record and can be found in Plutarch's Moralia.


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Now that you've seen the video, here are some quotes from the Moralia.


  • Leonidas: When someone said, "Because of the arrows of the barbarians it is impossible to see the sun," he said, "Won't it be nice then, if we shall have shade in which to fight them?"

  • Thearidas: Thearidas, as he was whetting his sword, was asked if it was sharp, and he replied, "Sharper than slander."

  • Themisteas: Themisteas fortold to Leonidas, the king, the coming destruction both of himself and of his fellowsoldiers at Thermopylae, for he was a prophet. He was sent away by Leonidas to Sparta, on the pretext of announcing there what would come to pass, but in reality so that he should not suffer death with the rest. He, however, would not brook this, but said, "I was sent out to fight, not to carry messages."

  • When the ambassador from Elis said that his citizens had sent him for the especial reason that he alone emulated the Spartan way of living, Theopompus said, "Is your way of living or that of the other citizens better?" And when the man said that his own was, Theopompus said, "How then, can that State be saved in which, among many citizens, only one is a good man?"

  • Theopompus: When someone pointed out to him a wall, and inquired if it was strong and high, he said, "Is it not a place where women live?"

  • Cleomenes: When somebody inquired of him why Spartans do not dedicate to the gods the spoils from their enemies, he said, "Because they are taken from cowards."

  • Leonidas: Being asked why the best of men prefer a glorious death to an inglorious life, he said, "Because they believe the one to be Nature's gift, but the other to be within their own control."


In Thucydides Peloponessian War, Archidamus describes the Spartan character by saying:

The quality which they condemn is really nothing but a wise moderation; thanks to its possession, we alone do not bemome insolent in success and give way less than others in misfortune; we are not carried away by the pleasure of hearing ourselves cheered on to risks which our judgment condemns; nor, if annoyed, are we any the more convinced by attempts to exasperate us by accusation. We are both warlike and wise, and it is our sense of order that makes us so. We are warlike, because self-control contains honor as a chief constituent, and honor bravery. And we are wise, because we are educated too little to despise the laws, and with too sever a self-control to disobey them, and are brought up not to be too knowing in useless matters -- such as the knowledge which can give a specious criticism of an enemy's plans in theory, but fails to assail them will equal success in practice -- but are taught to consider that the schemes of our enemies are not dissimilar to our own, and that the freaks of chance are not determinable by calculation.

There are many more, but that should whet your appetite.
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