Leonidas I

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It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.
Hugo Black
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Leonidas (Λεωνίδας) (c. 489 BC - 480 BC) was a king of Sparta, the seventeenth of the Agiad line.


  • Marry a good man, and bear good children.


  • If you knew what is good in life, you would abstain from wishing for foreign things. For me it is better to die for Greece than to be monarch over my compatriots.
    • In response to Xerxes' offer of Kingship over all Greece in return for a Spartan surrender at Thermoyplae.


  • 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.""

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