The year was 480 BC when King Leonidas of Sparta, left with only a few dozen fighters from the original 300 at Thermopylae, gave a speech whose motivational power has resonated over the millennia.
The truth is that we do not know exactly what Leonidas told his troops. None survived the last day to tell the tale — other than a messenger who was sent back to Sparta and of course the traitor who gave away Leonidas’ position to the enemy.
Leonidas was not just a King and great fighter. He was also known as a gentle persuader. A man all citizens of Sparta respected and listened to.
The Spartans were facing annihilation at the hands of hundreds of thousands of Persians at Thermopylae. The morning before the final Persian assault, Leonidas gathered all the standing comrades in arms and tried to raise their morale.
By fighting till the bitter end he hoped that he would delay the advance of the Persians into the rest of Greece; and his great sacrifice succeeded in the end, with the eventual defeat of the Persians at Salamis.