Leonidas - King Leonidas of Sparta
From N.S. Gill's Ancient/Classical History Glossary
Definition: Leonidas was a 5th century B.C. Spartan military king who bravely led a small force of Greeks -- mostly Spartan (the famous 300), but also Thespians and Thebans -- against the much larger Persian army of Xerxes, at the pass of Thermopylae, in 480 B.C. during the Persian Wars. According to Herodotus, Leonidas had been warned by the Delphic oracle that either Sparta would be destroyed or their king would lose his life. Leonidas chose the second alternative.
All the Spartans and Thespians died, including Leonidas, although Herodotus says the Thebans had never wanted to be there and surrendered when Leonidas was killed. The Persians mangled the corpse of Leonidas.
Leonidas was the half-brother of King Cleomenes I of Sparta. After Cleomenes' suicide, Leonidas was made king because Cleomenes had died without a son or other closer male relative. Leonidas was also married to Cleomenes' only child and heir, Gorgo. Herodotus says this was part of the reason he became king. Since they were kings from the Agiad line, both Cleomenes and Leonidas claimed Heracles (Hercules) as ancestor.
* Battle at Thermopylae
Part of the Persian War, the Battle at Thermopylae was where Leonidas and the 300 died.
* Spartan Agoge, Kings, and 300
* Herodotus 9
Book 9 of Herodotus (also see Book 7). Reference to revenging Leonidas and the Battle at Thermopylae.
* Diodorus on Thermopylae
The account of Diodorus Siculus is different from that of Herodotus.
* List of Spartan Kings
Leonidas was one of the Agaidai kings of Sparta.
* Persian War Timeline
Sequence of events in the Persian Wars (which includes the Battle at Thermopylae) and maps.
* Thermopylae Terms