Giorgos Seferis once said: “If we erase a piece of the past, it is as if we erase a piece of the future”. That has always been true, more so nowadays: knowledge of history is a necessary condition for people these days. History means knowledge. Without the knowledge of the past, we can neither understand thepresent nor prognosticate the future. During our courses an effort is being made, so that the children feel the pulse of the greatest events-attainments of the past. Children need that: to meet and delve into the real events, to discover the acting people who pulled the strings of history, and to come to positive conclusions both as for the past and the present. In this way, history ceases to be tedious. It becomes exciting, a source of inspiration for modern smart children.
We widely use the map of the time of each historical event, along with photo material of the corresponding region as it is nowadays. The students have to acquire the best possible perception of the place, where the event happened then, but also understand what it is like today. The narration of the events from an authorised historian’s book follows, accompanied by the appropriate soundtrack. We aim at the creation of valorous spirit, which is the base of everything, and Greek history offers abundant opportunities to achieve that.
On the fourth and fatal day, Xerxes launched an attack about 10-11 in the morning, as Ephialtes had recommended him. Leonidas, being aware that the Greeks were going to make a fatal exodus this time, moved forward his few military forces at the widest spot of the straits, ahead of the location where he had fought the previous days, as if he showed that he belittled the arithmetical advantage of the opposing army. The assaults of the Persians were pushed back; they began to recede, but the officers in the rear hit them with cats in order to advance. Some fell into the sea and drowned, others were tromped by their co-soldiers. The Greeks were struggling to cause them the most severe damages possible, before the Hydarnes’ soldiers descend from the Anopaia path and beat them back.
All the pikes they had, were broken and they were fighting with their swords. They had already come into a hand-to-hand combat (ἐκτοῦσυστάδην).Then Leonidas was killed, a man who was most courageous (ἀνὴργενόμενοςἄριστος, Herodotus 7, 224), and other prominent Spartans. Herodotus writes that he has got the names of the 300 men but he does not list them. Neither does Pausanias. Two half-blooded brothers of Xerxes and one of Darius also fell in battle. A homeric battle was given round Leonidas’ corpse. The Greeks repelled the Persians four times and thus they saved the body of the dead king. However, when the army of Hydarnes appeared in their rear, they changed tactics. They returned to the narrowestspot, behind the bulwark, all together (πάντεςἀλέες), except the Thebans. There is a low hill (κολωνόςτις) at that spot, which was their last line of defence. Here, beset from everywhere, they fought, with their swords those who had them, with their teeth those who did not have them, and they all dropped dead around their dead captain. The Persians, according to Diodorus, did not want to have a hand-to-hand combat with them. They hooked them askance and they snuffed them out with their spears and arrows (τοξεύοντεςκαὶἀκοντίζοντεςἅπανταςἀπέκτειναν -11, 10, 4).
[ΣαράντοςΚαργάκος, ΗΙΣΤΟΡΙΑΤΗΣΑΡΧΑΙΑΣΣΠΑΡΤΗΣ: SarantosKargakos: HistoryofAncientSparta (inGreek), ed. Gutenberg]