These words were spoken at the battle of Thermopylae in 480BC,
one of the most famous battles in history. As the Greek army, under the command of King Leonidis, attempted to hold the city of Thermopylae it became readily apparent that they were significantly outnumbered by Xerxes army of Persians which totaled near 300,000, while the Greeks had only 7,000 soldiers.
Even so, the Greeks held off the Persians for 7 days by
blocking the only road by which the massive Persian army could pass. Then, a local resident betrayed his people and showed Xerxes another way around the massive valley.
Knowing that his army now faced annihilation, Leonidas released all but 300 Spartans and stood to face the Persians.
Xerxes sent a messenger to Leonidas on the eve of the attack of the 300 to deliver the message that if the Spartans would lay down their weapons and serve the Persians, Xerxes would spare their lives. Leonidas’ answer?
Molon Labe, come and take them!
The Greeks were eventually overcome, although they did significant damage to the army of Xerxes and managed to save the city of Athens by delaying the Persians arrival. The people of Athens evacuated to the Island of Salamis. The Greeks later would be victorious at Salamis and the Battle of Plataea.
You may recall the movie “The 300”. It was loosely based on the Battle of Thermopylae.!