Thursday, March 22, 2007

About The '300'

There has been much talk about ancient history since the recent release of Zach Snyder's 300, an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel (think comic book for adults) adaptation of the epic battle between a small Greek force, made up of 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans and the army of Imperial Persia, made up of as many as ten thousand.

The battle took place in the narrow pass of Thermopylae, and for three days the Greeks, led by Spartan King Leonidas, held off the Persians. In the end, the Greeks died almost to a man, but their heroic sacrifice at Thermopylae, coupled with the near-simultaneous Athenian-led naval action at Salamis that destroyed the Persian fleet, gave the other Greek city-states time to organize together, and the Persians were eventually completely defeated.

Since the movie's release, there has been some controversy as to how accurate th movie actually is regarding its portrayal of the events at Thermopylae. I have yet to see the film, but I would like to offer a few thoughts.

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to study with the estimable Professor Victor Davis Hanson. Though Wikipedia mis-identifies him as a 'military historian', Dr. Hanson is in fact one of the pre-eminent classicists of our times. In a recent article on, he provided his take on the movie's accuracy.

As regards the movie, he says, "...remember that "300" does not claim to follow exactly ancient accounts of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Instead, it is an impressionistic take on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, intended to entertain and shock first, and instruct second." However, in Dr. Hanson's opinion, "...the main story line mostly conveys the message of Thermopylae."

Read the whole thing and make your own decision. Hat tip to Expat-Leo.

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