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The Greeks, on hearing of this, gathered together about the middle of the night and conferred about the perils which were bearing down on them. And although some declared that they should relinquish the pass at once and make their way in safety to the allies, stating that any who remained in the place could not possibly come off with their lives, Leonidas, the king of the Lacedaemonians, being eagerly desirous to win both for himself and for the Spartans a garland of great glory, gave orders that the rest of the Greeks should all depart and win safety for themselves, in order that they might fight together with the Greeks in the battles which still remained; but as for the Lacedaemonians, he said, they must remain and not abandon the defence of the pass, for it was fitting that those who were the leaders of Hellas should gladly die striving for the meed of honour.1 [2] Immediately, then, all the rest departed, but Leonidas together with his fellow citizens performed heroic and astounding deeds; and although the Lacedaemonians were but few (he detained only the Thespiaeans) and he had all told not more than five hundred men, he was ready to meet death on behalf of Hellas. [3]

After this the Persians who were led by the Trachinian, after making their way around the difficult terrain, suddenly caught Leonidas between their forces, and the Greeks, giving up any thought of their own safety and choosing renown instead, with one voice asked their commander to lead them against the enemy before the Persians should learn that their men had made their way around them. [4] And Leonidas, welcoming the eagerness of his soldiers, ordered them to prepare their breakfast quickly, since they would dine in Hades, and he himself, in accordance with the order he had given, took food, believing that by so doing he could keep his strength for a long time and endure the strain of contest. When they had hastily refreshed themselves and all were ready, he ordered the soldiers to attack the camp, slaying any who came in their way, and to strike for the very pavilion of the king.

1 The heroism of the Spartans has been depreciated by Munro (Camb. Anc. Hist. 4, pp. 297 ff.) who thinks that Leonidas believed he had "one day more."

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