All Greece was in danger. A mighty army, led by the great King of

Persia, had come from the east. It was marching along the seashore,

and in a few days would be in Greece. The great king had sent

mes-sen-gers into every city and state, bidding them give him water

and earth in token that the land and the sea were his. But they


"No: we will be free."

And so there was a gre
t stir through-out all the land. The men armed

themselves, and made haste to go out and drive back their foe; and the

women staid at home, weeping and waiting, and trembling with fear.

There was only one way by which the Per-sian army could go into Greece

on that side, and that was by a narrow pass between the mountains and

the sea. This pass was guarded by Le-on'i-das, the King of the

Spartans, with three hundred Spartan soldiers.

Soon the Persian soldiers were seen coming. There were so many of them

that no man could count them. How could a handful of men hope to stand

against so great a host?

And yet Le-on-i-das and his Spartans held their ground. They had made

up their minds to die at their post. Some one brought them word that

there were so many Persians that their arrows dark-ened the sun.

"So much the better," said the Spartans; "we shall fight in the


Bravely they stood in the narrow pass. Bravely they faced their foes.

To Spartans there was no such thing as fear. The Persians came

forward, only to meet death at the points of their spears.

But one by one the Spartans fell. At last their spears were broken;

yet still they stood side by side, fighting to the last. Some fought

with swords, some with daggers, and some with only their fists and


All day long the army of the Persians was kept at bay. But when the

sun went down, there was not one Spartan left alive. Where they had

stood there was only a heap of the slain, all bristled over with

spears and arrows.

Twenty thousand Persian soldiers had fallen before that handful of

men. And Greece was saved.

Thousands of years have passed since then; but men still like to tell

the story of Leonidas and the brave three hundred who died for their

country's sake.