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  • Thermopylae and Issus, similar?

    I'm writing a research paper on the Battle of Issus. In one of my sources, a book by Theodore Ayrault Dodge, he mentions Issus being a narrow pass which would take away Darius III's advantage of a larger army. To me this sounds similar to the Battle of Thermopylae. Would I be safe in alluding to Thermopylae in my paper?

  • #2
    Just remember that Thermopylae is part of a larger genre of battle narratives that include Thermopylae, the Alamo, and Custer's last stand. There is one unifying theme to them all, the romanticized side loses!
    Unfortunately, I will have to open up some books to look up the battle of Issus and get back to you later on how I think the two might be compared in a research paper.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Cicero View Post
      Just remember that Thermopylae is part of a larger genre of battle narratives that include Thermopylae, the Alamo, and Custer's last stand. There is one unifying theme to them all, the romanticized side loses!
      Unfortunately, I will have to open up some books to look up the battle of Issus and get back to you later on how I think the two might be compared in a research paper.
      Yep. All three of those battles are horribly overrated in today's public perception. All three battles were fairly useless for the purposes people made them out to be.
      Surrender? NutZ!
      -Varro

      Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. -Sun Tzu

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dubhghlas View Post
        I'm writing a research paper on the Battle of Issus. In one of my sources, a book by Theodore Ayrault Dodge, he mentions Issus being a narrow pass which would take away Darius III's advantage of a larger army. To me this sounds similar to the Battle of Thermopylae. Would I be safe in alluding to Thermopylae in my paper?
        I wouldn't. Besides for Persians, and lots of them, I don't see much similarities. Thermopylae was a defensive battle at narrow mountain pass flanked by mountain on one side and cliff on the other. Alexander was the invader who fought at the river mouth near the village of Issus.
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        • #5
          Sorry, I beg to differ.

          Thermopylae inspired the Greeks to unite against a common enemy, so it's more than a romantic last stand.

          Without it, the Greek City-States may never have buried their differences and fallen piecemeal to the Persian Empire. Had this been the case, there wouldn't be a Western Civilisation.
          Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Salinator View Post
            I wouldn't. Besides for Persians, and lots of them, I don't see much similarities. Thermopylae was a defensive battle at narrow mountain pass flanked by mountain on one side and cliff on the other. Alexander was the invader who fought at the river mouth near the village of Issus.
            I don't know where did you saw cliffs Sal...Maybe in the movie "300"? http://www.battle-of-thermopylae.eu/gallery.html

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            • #7
              Originally posted by speed_pump View Post
              I don't know where did you saw cliffs Sal...Maybe in the movie "300"? http://www.battle-of-thermopylae.eu/gallery.html

              The coastal landscape has changed since Thermopylae took place.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by the ace View Post
                Sorry, I beg to differ.

                Thermopylae inspired the Greeks to unite against a common enemy, so it's more than a romantic last stand.

                Without it, the Greek City-States may never have buried their differences and fallen piecemeal to the Persian Empire. Had this been the case, there wouldn't be a Western Civilisation.
                I beg to differ on your beg to differ...

                The Greeks had already decided to unite to fight against the Persians before Thermopylae. The army at Thermopylae was nearly 7000-10000 Greeks from many different city states.

                If there wasn't a Thermopylae, they simply would've just taken the fight to a different location.

                Thermopylae was their first primary line of defense, and it was in a tactical and strategic sense, a failure.
                Surrender? NutZ!
                -Varro

                Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. -Sun Tzu

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                  The coastal landscape has changed since Thermopylae took place.
                  Yes, but do you see any cliffs?
                  "No title of Nobility shall be granted."
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Intranetusa View Post
                    I beg to differ on your beg to differ...

                    The Greeks had already decided to unite to fight against the Persians before Thermopylae. The army at Thermopylae was nearly 7000-10000 Greeks from many different city states.

                    If there wasn't a Thermopylae, they simply would've just taken the fight to a different location.

                    Thermopylae was their first primary line of defense, and it was in a tactical and strategic sense, a failure.
                    It is NOT the first time when they are uniting against bigger threat (Marathon)....They just fought wherever he (Xerxes) wanted them to...
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by speed_pump View Post
                      I don't know where did you saw cliffs Sal...Maybe in the movie "300"? http://www.battle-of-thermopylae.eu/gallery.html
                      From your website:
                      At the time, the pass of Thermopylae consisted of a track along the shore of the Gulf of Malis so narrow that only one chariot could pass through. On the southern side of the track stood the cliffs, while on the north side was the gulf.
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                      Prayers.

                      BoRG

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Salinator View Post
                        From your website:
                        I know that English is my second language but this is what you said : "mountain on one side and cliff on the other" which I understand, kind'a like cliffs on both sides? Like stairs...steep rocks, flat (the pass) and steep rocks again into the sea...Steep rocks? There was cliffs on the mountain side...Your Quote from the site that i gave : On the southern side of the track stood the cliffs, while on the north side was the gulf...
                        Last edited by speed_pump; 18 Apr 10, 18:35.
                        "No title of Nobility shall be granted."
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                        • #13
                          Historians have certainly romanticized the Battle of Thermopylae and the sacrifice of the Spartans, but a “last stand” was not Leonidas’ original intention. Instead, Leonidas was making a real, concerted effort to hold off the Persians from advancing into Greece. Not only did he have approximately 7,000 Spartans, Thespians, Thebans, and other Greeks under his command, but in the sea, the Athenians were fighting the Persian fleet. Together, the Greek forces on land and sea were truly trying to blunt the Persian advance.

                          Leonidas’ tactics were not simply defensive, but he employed a series of feints against the Persians to lure them into the pass. Once inside, the heavily armored hoplites attacked the much less-armored Persians. The result was a series of massacres until the Persians found the back route to outflank the Greeks.

                          With all that said, I have no idea how you compare Thermopylae to Issus. Yes, both featured Persians and Greeks, but there were no Spartans. In addition, the two battles are separated by nearly 150 years. Alexander did not employ defensive or feinting tactics, but instead he aggressively charged at the Persian lines across a river. The Macedonian phalanx differed greatly from the Spartan phalanx in terms of shield size, spear length, and troop formations. Alexander also employed cavalry, archers, peltasts, and other light cavalry, features not used by Leonidas.

                          The notion that Thermopylae united the Greeks to even trek into the Persian Empire to fight the battle is purely speculation. Between Thermopylae and Alexander, there were numerous wars between Greeks (e.g., Peloponnesian wars), which saw Athens, Sparta, and Thebes all fight for hegemony over Greece. The true “unifier” of the Greeks was Philip II of Macedon. He did it with the sword and the mandate of revenge against the Persians for burning Greek temples in 480 BC, not for Thermopylae.

                          In short, how do you compare the two battles? You really can’t.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by scottmanning View Post
                            Historians have certainly romanticized the Battle of Thermopylae and the sacrifice of the Spartans, but a “last stand” was not Leonidas’ original intention. Instead, Leonidas was making a real, concerted effort to hold off the Persians from advancing into Greece. Not only did he have approximately 7,000 Spartans, Thespians, Thebans, and other Greeks under his command, but in the sea, the Athenians were fighting the Persian fleet. Together, the Greek forces on land and sea were truly trying to blunt the Persian advance.

                            Leonidas’ tactics were not simply defensive, but he employed a series of feints against the Persians to lure them into the pass. Once inside, the heavily armored hoplites attacked the much less-armored Persians. The result was a series of massacres until the Persians found the back route to outflank the Greeks.

                            With all that said, I have no idea how you compare Thermopylae to Issus. Yes, both featured Persians and Greeks, but there were no Spartans. In addition, the two battles are separated by nearly 150 years. Alexander did not employ defensive or feinting tactics, but instead he aggressively charged at the Persian lines across a river. The Macedonian phalanx differed greatly from the Spartan phalanx in terms of shield size, spear length, and troop formations. Alexander also employed cavalry, archers, peltasts, and other light cavalry, features not used by Leonidas.

                            The notion that Thermopylae united the Greeks to even trek into the Persian Empire to fight the battle is purely speculation. Between Thermopylae and Alexander, there were numerous wars between Greeks (e.g., Peloponnesian wars), which saw Athens, Sparta, and Thebes all fight for hegemony over Greece. The true “unifier” of the Greeks was Philip II of Macedon. He did it with the sword and the mandate of revenge against the Persians for burning Greek temples in 480 BC, not for Thermopylae.

                            In short, how do you compare the two battles? You really can’t.
                            Hello scottmanning,

                            great posting, and I fully agree with you.

                            Regards
                            Kruska
                            Last edited by Kruska; 18 Apr 10, 21:05.

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                            • #15
                              Marathon was a battle fought by Darius' Persians against Athens and Plataea. Though the Spartans offered help they did not front - due to religious reasons - until after the battle. There certainly was no "Hellenic League" in 490 as there would be by the time of Xerxes' invasion.

                              As to the original question of the battles of Issus and Thermopylae being similar, that is simply not demonstrable. Issus allowed for the full deployment, in battle array, of the Macedonian phalanx as well as wings composed of lights and cavalry. The Persians deployed a full battle line. It did not take place in a pass but rather on a coastal plain some fourteen or more stades wide (as opposed to a wagon track) and the battle featured two massive cavalry exchanges on both sides of the field.

                              How much of that can one tick for Thermopylae?

                              By the way Pump, the gulf of Malis has silted up greatly over the past 2,480 years. The "cliff" on the gulf side is now gone due to the fact that sea has "retreated". I've walked the battlefield and it is no stretch to imagine the cliff having been there when the sea ranged much further inland than it does now.
                              Paralus

                              Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
                              Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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