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Great Battles

Chris Carey

24 March 2022

ISBN: 9780198754114

272 pages

In Stock

Great Battles

Price: £10.99

The story of Thermopylae, the famous last stand of the Greco-Persian Wars: how it was fought, how it has been remembered, and what it has come to mean.


The story of Thermopylae, the famous last stand of the Greco-Persian Wars: how it was fought, how it has been remembered, and what it has come to mean.

  • The Great Battles Series. The story of the world's most important battles—how they were fought, how they have been commemorated, and the long historical shadows that they have cast
  • The story of Thermopylae—the famous last stand of the severely outnumbered Greek army, which went on to be immortalised in myth and in Hollywood
  • Considers the events of the battle itself, as well as the difficulty of approaching the evidence of a classical event from a modern standpoint
  • How the battle has been remembered, from the immediate aftermath to the present day—and what this tells us

About the Author(s)

Chris Carey, Professor Emeritus of Greek, University College London

Chris Carey was born in Liverpool and educated at Jesus College, Cambridge. He has worked at the University of Cambridge, University of Minnesota, Carleton College, St Andrews, Royal Holloway, and UCL, and taught in the Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, and Serbia. He has worked on Greek lyric poetry, epic, drama, oratory, and law, and is currently working on a commentary on book 7 of Herodotus' History. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2012.

Table of Contents

    1:Reading Thermopylae: The Problems
    2:The Pass
    3:The Persians
    4:The Greeks
    5:The Battle
    6:Thermopylae Refought
    7:Thermopylae in the Ancient World
    8:The Myth in the Modern Era
    9:And Finally...
    Further Reading


"The book's best contribution: showing the impact Thermopylae had even in its own time-how its meaning resonated with ancient observers and how it helped both self perpetuate, and shaped the development of ancient culture. Carey then seamlessly connects this with the meaning the battle has to modern people and connects it firmly to the present day, tracing its lineage carefully through modern history. Carey shows Thermopylae's legend came to dominate our understanding of it nearly as soon as Xerxes fixed Leonidas's head to a pole and had it paraded before his cheering troops, a fact that greatly complicates efforts to interpret this critically important battle. Fortunately for readers, it's a complication Carey is well equipped to tackle." - Myke Cole, United States Commission of Military History, International Journal of Military History and Historiography

"Carey is one of Britain's foremost students of ancient history. In this meticulous examination of the story he admits that most of the "facts" we have are speculative ... The value of Carey's book lies in its reflections upon a legend that continues to influence our culture and ideals." - Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

"Excellent ... a considerable addition to the history and cultural legacy of one of the world's most significant battles." - Paul Cartledge, Literary Review

"Highly readable and informative ... Carey's account of [the battle of Thermopylae] provides an absorbing exposition of both the facts and the fictions that underlie and surround it." - Diana Bentley, Minerva

"Very readable, well researched and thought-provoking ... an excellent book and thoroughly recommended." - Chris May, Battlefield magazine

"Thermopylae is a discerning examination of a still resonant battle and the problems it poses for ancient historians. Its author writes intelligently for non-specialist students of military history, without footnoting controversies. He has walked Xerxes's route." - Donald Lateiner, Michigan War Studies Review