Leonidas I

King of Sparta from c. 489 BC to 480 BC

Leonidas (Λεωνίδας) (c. 489 BC480 BC) was a king of Sparta, the seventeenth of the Agiad line.


Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques-Louis David (1814)
  • ἀγαθὸν γαμεῖν καὶ ἀγαθὰ τίκτειν
    • Marry a good man, and bear good children.
    • In response to his wife's question of what she should do if he died in battle, as he left for Thermopylae; as quoted in the "Sayings of the Spartan Women" in the Moralia
    • Variant translation: Marry a good man, and have good children.


  • Ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
    κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.
  • Ō xein', angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti tēide
    keimetha tois keinōn rhēmasi peithomenoi.
    • The words of this famous epigram on the Greek monument at the site of the Battle of Thermopylae, written by Simonides of Ceos, have sometimes been presented as if they were literally words of Leonidas; some translations follow:
    • Go, stranger, and to Lacedaemon tell
      That here, obeying her behests, we fell.
    • Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
      That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.
    • Tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
      that here obedient to their laws we lie.
    • Unsourced variants:
      • Go, stranger, and to Sparta tell,
        That faithful to her laws we fell.
      • Tell Sparta, stranger passing by,
        That faithful to her laws we lie.
    • For a discussion of the epigram and more of its numerous translations, see the Wikipedia article: Battle of Thermoplyae.
  • It is said that on the eve of battle, he was told by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that, when they fired their volleys the mass of arrows blocked out the sun. Dienekes, however, quite undaunted by this prospect, remarked with a laugh, "Good. Then we'll have our battle in the shade."
    • Herodotus, in Histories; the remarks of Dienekes have sometimes become attributed to Leonidas.
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