Leonidas is known in Greek mythology for having been the king of the Agiad family number 17 and a descendant of Heracles. He had an active participation in the Second Medical War between the Greeks and the Persians and managed to lead a small group of Spartans to Thermopylae to later join the Greek army where they resisted together the attacks of Xerxes’ Persian military troops.


Personal information

  • When was he born: 540 BC
  • Where he was born: Sparta
  • When he died: 08/11/480 BC
  • Where he died: Thermopylae, Greece

Who was Leonidas?

Leonidas was the king of Sparta , a legendary man who actively participated in the medical wars and who had a transcendental role in the battle of Thermopylae where he managed to stop the Persians who were led by Xerxes I.

  • What did Leonidas do
  • Biography of Leonidas
  • Reign
  • Death
  • Personality
  • Leonidas physical characteristics
  • Parents
  • Relations
  • Sons
  • Importance
  • Acknowledgments
  • Leonidas Quotes
  • Presence in popular culture

What did Leonidas do

Leonidas was a very important man as he actively participated in the Battle of Thermopylae . The power of Athens continued to grow constantly and for this reason, Xerxes decided to attack Hellas, however, the city of Sparta was in ” meat ” celebrations , during which the army could not move , which is why they were in great danger. Faced with this situation, Leonidas decides to take control of the situation and submit to a later trial after what he had planned.

Since he could not mobilize his army, he decided to secretly summon some royal guards and in this way managed to unite 300 Spartans with whom he headed north in order to stop the enemy’s attack with the objective of the Greek fleet falling back. which outnumbered the Greeks. During the attack, the Greeks were able to contain the attack for several days but soon they began to be surrounded by enemies. In the end, the Spartans lost the battle, however, they went down in history for defending their city , as an example of fidelity and nobility and the love they felt for their freedom .

Biography of Leonidas

According to historians, Leonidas was born around 540 BC and was the son of King Anaxandridas II, having two older brothers it was very unlikely that he could become king, however, his two brothers died. Around the years 485 and 488 he became king some time after his brother Cleómenes I died and did not leave any descendants .

As a child, he dedicated himself to being at home and receiving basic education such as reading and writing, he learned about laws and about the history of his city. When he was seven years old, he began his training , part of the tradition of the place, which he could easily overcome. He was a very effective king once he came to the throne and always remained true to the Spartan paradigm .


Leonidas was appointed king in 530 BC . and he finished his work in 480 BC . Ascended to the throne after his brother died, it is worth mentioning that at that time, Sparta maintained a dual reign, in other words, had two royal families, Agíadas and Euripóntidas . He reigned intelligently and boldly until the day of his death, when he lost the battle of Thermopylae against the Persians, a battle in which he was assassinated. Even though he lost, he was always seen as a hero to his people by withdrawing all his soldiers when he realized that he would lose the battle.


Seeing that he was losing the battle, Leonidas decides to withdraw his troops, however, the 300 Spartans stayed with him. His death was due to a large number of spears that were embedded in his body by the enemies and, despite his demise, the Spartans never left his corpse and continued to fight for him. According to history, his date of death was given on August 11, 480 BC.

His death had previously been predicted by the Oracle of Delphi , which had warned the Spartans what would happen, saying that later they would mourn a dead king and that the city would be devastated by the Persian Empire .


Leonidas had a fairly strong personality but at the same time it varied depending on the situation he was in. He had no compassion for his enemies and was quite strict. He was a man of initiative, responsible for his kingdom and willing to give his life for it.

Leonidas physical characteristics

Leonidas is believed to have been a tall man with a beard and black eyes. Historians agree that his physique was in very good shape despite his age, muscular and strong.


It is known that his father was the king of Anaxandridas of Sparta but unfortunately there are no exact data regarding his mother’s name, the only thing that is known, according to writings made by Herodotus, is that his mother was the king’s niece .


Leonidas was married to Gorgo , who was the only daughter of Cleomenes I , who was also king of the city. She was a woman known for her great capacity for political judgment and for her great wisdom .


The son of Leonidas was called Pleistarco , who died in 458 BC and who was king of the city of Agiad in Sparta. He was the only child of the couple formed by Leonidas and Queen Gorgo.


The importance of Leonidas lies not so much in the fact that he was a king in Sparta, but that, as a moral figure who was at all times willing to challenge everything that was against him, even the impossible to try to defend the freedom of his town . He died in a battle where defense was the most important and even knowing that he would die, he did not leave the battlefield. He was not a hero who died saving his life, but trying to save the lives of others.


Today, Leonidas’ great work is reflected in a large number of books and stories , movies, and television series that acknowledge his story. There is a moment created in his name in Nueva Esparta and in the place where the Battle of Thermopylae took place in honor of that man who at a time in history gave his life for his homeland.

Leonidas Quotes

Some of the phrases that have been collected and that were said by Leonidas are the following:

  • Spartans! Prepare your breakfasts and eat well, because tonight, we will have dinner in hell!
  • We are not backing down or giving up. That is the law of Sparta and for it we will defend, fight and die.
  • Spartans! Prepare for war!
  • You may have many Xerxes slaves, but you have few warriors and they will soon fear our spears more than they fear your whips.
  • Craziness!? Do not! This is Sparta!

Presence in popular culture

Today, the story of Leonidas is known to many as the most famous Spartan in history, as a hero who died at Thermopylae . This has happened because the media such as cinema and television have been in charge of spreading its great story. The inclusion of modernity with romanticism and heroic deeds has made it a very good subject to market.

Television series like ” The 300 Spartans ” tell their entire story successfully and have managed to gain and gain a large number of followers. Famous video games , comic strips , songs and even names of some important places bear his name today and this has made today’s culture have access to all this historical information .

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