The question of whether the 300 Spartans are real has probably been on the minds of everyone who has watched the movie series. The first movie made a worldwide impact when it was released in 2006. Adapted from Frank Miller’s novel of the same name, the film has gained a distinctive fan base from all over the world.
The movie is based on Miller’s comic book. So, is the comic book based on real events and real characters? Let’s find out the answer to this question.
Are 300 Spartans Real?
Frank Miller’s comic book of the same name, which made the film meet with the audience, was inspired by the events that took place in Ancient Greece in 480 BC. However, the film was not made to give historical information. This means that the events in the movie are not entirely true.
In the movie, which focuses on the Persian-Greek wars that lasted for a long time, the Persian King Xerxes wants Sparta to submit to his rule, but he does not accept this because the Spartans are proud warriors. King Leonidas, ignoring the objections of the Senate, decides to face Xerxes’ dense population of soldiers.
Of course, the film is not concerned with giving a history lesson. Therefore, it is not based on a real history, but on Miller’s comic book of the same name. There are historical inconsistencies in the comics.
Since 300 Spartans offers an opportunity to take a look at one of the most important events in history, it is necessary to know which of the subjects in the film are true and which are false. To give a clue, the Spartans were indeed as brave warriors as they were told.
What is the True Story of 300 Spartans?
Frank Miller, author of the 300 Spartans comic, stated that he first went to Greece and did as much research as he could. He toured the battlefield and took note of historical events. Despite all this, he explained that the battle of Thermopylae did not have a realistic side, but also fictional aspects of the war.
First of all, let’s start with the power that is especially emphasized in the movie. In the movie, it is claimed that the Spartans were the single largest force resisting the Persians. This is of course not true. Similar efforts were seen in most Greek city-states. For the first time in Greek history, the aim was to unite the forces of all Greek city-states in the face of a threat.
Many city-states joined the council, along with Sparta, to devise a strategy to counter the Persian invasion. Aware of how strong and equipped the enemy is, the council stated that the war will be fought in two different areas, land and sea.
The Spartans would advance by land, while the Athenians would lead the fleet. No one seemed likely to eliminate the Persian ground troops. Therefore, eyes were turned to the Athenian fleet.
Although they initially wanted to pursue a different strategy, they quickly strayed from this plan because it was thought that Thermopylae might help the Spartans gain some advantage that would enable the Persian army to turn its numerical advantage into a disadvantage.
As for the war in Thermopylae, it would be fair to say that it has nothing to do with the movie. In the film, Leonidas leaves Sparta with only 300 men and joins a small group on their way to Thermopylae. In reality, many more warriors are joining the battle.
Yes, it’s true that the movie started with “300 Spartans”, but the number does not end there. The army that went to the field in the war was more than 5000. Considering the over 500 slaves serving each Spartan warrior, the army’s number in the field was quite high.
It’s worth noting that not all fighters on the field are fighting either. Some were tasked with guarding the mountain pass that was likely to be besieged by the Persians. There were also some traitors among them. These traitors played an important role in encircling the army by showing the pass to Xerxes.
Later, a runner came and reported the news of this siege to Leonidas. In the movie, Daxos says this, but in reality Leonidas, after learning that he is besieged, tells his allies that they can leave if they want. Some of his allies accept Leonidas’ offer and leave the battlefield.
The remaining number of warriors was around 2000. Knowing that they were all going to die, he walked into the open field and came head-to-head with the Persians. Considering those among them who did not leave the battlefield and fought against the Persians, although they were not professional soldiers like the Spartans, it can be said that they deserve to be appreciated even more than the Spartans.
Returning to the war, it had absolutely nothing to do with the movie. In the movie, we see Spartans who don’t even use armor to protect their body. In reality, armor was one of the few things the Spartans trusted. Every warrior even had a helmet on his head. They had round shields, long spears, and swords made of iron, much like the one in the movie.
In reality, each warrior protects another warrior, while in the movie, the Spartans run towards the enemy without thinking about their future and fight one on one. If this had actually happened, the war probably wouldn’t have lasted this long because there’s nothing in the name of order in the war in the movie.
The war actually ended in the Persians’ favour, but a year later 80,000 Spartans led by the losing king’s nephew defeated more than 100,000 Persians.
In the meantime, it is necessary to examine the administration of Sparta. Speaking of Leonidas, we said that he was the king. He was king, but not the only king of Sparta. Sparta had two kings. One was fighting far from Sparta, while the other was defending Sparta against revolts. King Leonidas in the movie is portrayed as a relatively young king , but Leonidas was actually quite old when he went to Thermopylae.
In reality, Xerxes never met Leonidas face to face. He was never on the front lines of the war. The reason he met Leonidas in the movie was to get the audience to see the main villain in order to better focus on the movie. If you focused better on the movie after seeing Xerxes, the method probably worked.
It should be noted that the Persians were not a bloodthirsty people as shown in the movie. Nor was the rule of the Persian Empire oppressive. They’re labeled “the villain” because most of the evidence we have comes from Greek sources.
The fact that the Greeks fought the Persian Empire and made them an enemy to them has made the Persians evil in the eyes of most people today.
If the Persians had won the war, there would have been a situation of political submission, but it would not have led to the complete disappearance of Greek culture, because the Persians respected Greek culture.
In order not to leave any question marks in the minds, let’s not go without mentioning this: In reality , a sentence like “This is Sparta” is not established.
Finally, it should be noted that we do not have enough neutral sources about the war in question. Most of these accounts come from Herodotus. This, of course, prevents us from making a definite statement about how much of it is true.