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Leonidas(lēŏn`ĭdəs), d. 480 B.C., king of Sparta. He succeeded (c.491 B.C.) his half-brother, Cleomenes I. When the Persians invaded Greece under Xerxes (480 B.C.), Leonidas with 300 Spartans and 5,000 auxiliaries was given the pass at Thermopylae to hold. There was treachery. Most of the Greeks got away, but the Spartans and 700 Thespians refused to flee and were killed. Herodotus immortalized the incident. See Persian WarsPersian Wars,
500 B.C.–449 B.C., series of conflicts fought between Greek states and the Persian Empire. The writings of Herodotus, who was born c.484 B.C., are the great source of knowledge of the history of the wars.
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Born 508 or 507 B.C. in Sparta; died 480 B.C. at Thermopylae. King of Sparta from 488 to 480 B.C. (ancient Greece).
In the period of the Greco-Persian wars, Leonidas headed the allied force of the Greek poleis against the Persian king Xerxes in 480, when the Persians invaded Greece. He died in the Battle of Thermopylae, covering with a small detachment the retreat of the main part of the Greek Army. In ancient tradition the name of Leonidas is a symbol of patriotism and military valor.