Leonidas I Facts

Leonidas I Facts
Leonidas I was a Spartan king who is most famous for leading the Spartan stand against overwhelming Persian forces at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Before Thermopylae, Leonidas had established his battlefield prowess under the leadership of his half-brother, Cleomenes, the king before him. He was also a Spartiate, or full citizen of Sparta, at a young age, which meant that he had pass through the rigorous schooling known as the agoge. During the Classical Period, Spartan government and society was somewhat complex, combing aspects of monarchy and representative, republican rule and also practicing slavery and infanticide. Leonidas was Anaxandridas II's son, the king of Sparta, with his niece. Leonidas followed a similar pattern when he married his half-brother, Cleomenes I's daughter, Gorgo.
Interesting Leonidas I Facts:
Leonidas was a member of the Agiad Dynasty, named for the late tenth century Spartan king, Agis I.
The Spartans actually had two kings who ruled them simultaneously. Besides a king from the Agiad Dynasty, there was also a king from the Eurypontid Dynasty, which was named for an early ninth century king named Eurypon.
Although Leonidas was born to his father's first wife, he was actually born after Cleomenes. The elders of Sparta believed that Anaxandridas II's first wife could not conceive a child so he was persuaded to take another wife.
Leonidas was his father's third son. His older, full brother was named Dorieus.
When Dorieus was passed over for the Agiad kingship in favor of Cleomenes, he left Greece to found overseas colonies.
Leonidas' marriage to Gorgo was politically shrewd. It placed him closer to his half-brother and king and later paved the way for him to become king.
Since Cleomenes had no children, the Agiad kingship passed to Leonidas in about the year 490 BC.
Leonidas was probably born around the year 540 BC and became king when he was around fifty-years-old.
Gorgo and Leonidas had one child, Pleistarchus.
After Leonidas was killed at Thermopylae, the Agiad kingship passed to Pleistarchus, but he was too young to rule. Pleistarchus' uncle Cleombrotus acted as regent until he was old enough to rule.
Due to Sparta being the most warlike and martially capable of the Greek city-states, the members of the Greek League chose Leonidas to be their commander-in-chief in 481 BC in their war against Persia.
Although Leonidas only had 300 Spartans at his command at Thermopylae against as many as 300,000 Persians and their allies, there were more than 6,000 other Greeks who marched and fought alongside the Spartans.
The fifth century BC Greek historian, Herodotus, is the best ancient source on the life of Leonidas.
Although Leonidas was a great warrior and probably a keen strategist, the idea to create a bottleneck at Thermopylae came from the Spartan elected council known as the ephors.
When Leonidas realized they were being flanked on the second day of fighting, dismissed all but the 300 Spartans and 700 Thespian Greeks.
The Persian King Xerxes had Leonidas body desecrated after the battle. It would be forty years before his remains were returned to the Greeks.
A monument was erected for Leonidas at Thermopylae, both in ancient times and in 1955.

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