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The Greeks who were in assembly, when word came to them that the Persian forces were near, took action to dispatch the ships of war with all speed to Artemisium in Euboea, recognizing that this place was well situated for meeting the enemy, and a considerable body of hoplites to Thermopylae to forestall them in occupying the passes at the narrowest part of the defile and to prevent the barbarians from advancing against Greece; for they were eager to throw their protection inside of Thermopylae about those who had chosen the cause of the Greeks and to do everything in their power to save the allies. [2] The leader of the entire expedition was Eurybiades the Lacedaemonian, and of the troops sent to Thermopylae the commander was Leonidas the king of the Spartans, a man who set great store by his courage and generalship. Leonidas, when he received the appointment, announced that only one thousand men should follow him on the campaign. [3] And when the ephors said that he was leading altogether too few soldiers against a great force and ordered him to take along a larger number, he replied to them in secret, "For preventing the barbarians from getting through the passes they are few, but for the task to which they are now bound they are many." [4] Since this reply proved riddle-like and obscure, he was asked again whether he believed he was leading the soldiers to some paltry task. Whereupon he replied, "Ostensibly I am leading them to the defence of the passes, but in fact to die for the freedom of all; and so, if a thousand set forth, Sparta will be the more renowned when they have died, but if the whole body of the Lacedaemonians take the field, Lacedaemon will be utterly destroyed, for not a man of them, in order to save his life, will dare to turn in flight." [5] There were, then, of the Lacedaemonians one thousand, and with them three hundred Spartiates,1 while the rest of the Greeks who were dispatched with them to Thermopylae were three thousand. [6]

Leonidas, then, with four thousand soldiers advanced to Thermopylae. The Locrians, however, who dwelt in the neighbourhood of the passes had already given earth and water to the Persians, and had promised that they would seize the passes in advance; but when they learned that Leonidas had arrived at Thermopylae, they changed their minds and went over to the Greeks. [7] And there gathered at Thermopylae also a thousand Locrians, an equal number of Melians,2 and almost a thousand Phocians, as well as some four hundred Thebans of the other party; for the inhabitants of Thebes were divided against each other with respect to the alliance with the Persians. Now the Greeks who were drawn up with Leonidas for battle, being as many in number as we have set forth, tarried in Thermopylae, awaiting the arrival of the Persians.

1 Full citizens of the state of Sparta proper.

2 See 3.2, note.

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