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For you, inhabitants of wide-wayed Sparta,
Either your great and glorious city must be wasted by Persian men,
Or if not that, then the bound of Lacedaemon must mourn a dead king, from Heracles’ line.
The might of bulls or lions will not restrain him with opposing strength; for he has the might of Zeus.
I declare that he will not be restrained until he utterly tears apart one of these.
English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920.
This is the prophecy the Oracle at Delphi is said to have made (in hexameter verse) after being consulted by Sparta, after that city-state received a request from the confederated Greek forces to aid in defending Greece against the Persian invasion.
In August 480 BC, Leonidas went out to meet Xerxes’ army at Thermopylae with a small force of 300 men, where he was joined by forces from other Greek city-states, who put themselves under his command to form an army of 14,000 strong.