Now Herodotus, in his narration of that fight, hath
obscured also the bravest act of Leonidas, saying that they
all fell in the straits near the hill.1
But the affair was
otherwise managed. For when they perceived by night
that they were encompassed by the barbarians, they
marched straight to the enemies' camp, and got very near
the King's pavilion, with a resolution to kill him and leave
their lives about him. They came then to his tent, killing
or putting to flight all they met; but when Xerxes was
not found there, seeking him in that vast camp and wandering about, they were at last with much difficulty slain
by the barbarians, who surrounded them on every side.
What other acts and sayings of the Spartans Herodotus
has omitted, we will write in the Life of Leonidas; yet that
hinders not but we may here set down also some few.
Before Leonidas went forth to that war, the Spartans exhibited to him funeral games, at which the fathers and
mothers of those that went along with him were spectators. Leonidas himself, when one said to him, You lead
very few with you to the battle, answered, There are many
to die there. When his wife, at his departure, asked him
what commands he had for her; he, turning to her, said,
I command you to marry good men, and bring them good
children. After he was enclosed by the enemy at Thermopylae, desiring to save two that were related to him, he
gave one of them a letter and sent him away; but he rejected it, saying angrily, I followed you as a soldier, not
as a post. The other he commanded on a message to the
magistrates of Sparta; but he, answering by his act, took
his shield, and stood up in his rank. Who would not
have blamed another that should have omitted these things?
But he who has collected and recorded the fart of Amasis,
the coming of the thiefs asses, and the giving of bottles,
and many such like things, cannot seem to have omitted
these gallant acts and these remarkable sayings by negligence and oversight, but as bearing ill-will and being unjust to some.