THE BRAVE THREE HUNDRED
ALL Greece was in danger. A mighty army, led
by the great King of Persia, had come from the
east. It was marching along the seashore, and in
a few days would be in Greece. The great king
 had sent messengers into every city and state, bidding
them give him water and earth in token that the land and
the sea were his. But they said,—
"No: we will be free."
And so there was a great stir throughout all the land. The
men armed themselves, and made haste to go out and drive
back their foe; and the women staid at home, weeping and
waiting, and trembling with fear.
There was only one way by which the Persian army could go
into Greece on that side, and that was by a narrow pass
between the mountains and the sea. This pass was guarded by
Leonidas, the King of the Spartans, with three hundred
Soon the Persian soldiers were seen coming. There were so
many of them that no man could count them. How could a
handful of men hope to stand against so great a host?
And yet Leonidas and his Spartans held their ground.
They had made up their minds to die at their post. Some one
brought them word that there were so many Persians that
their arrows darkened the sun.
"So much the better," said the Spartans; "we shall fight in
 Bravely they stood in the narrow pass. Bravely they faced
their foes. To Spartans there was no such thing as
fear. The Persians came forward, only to meet death at the
points of their spears.
But one by one the Spartans fell. At last their spears were
broken; yet still they stood side by side, fighting to the
last. Some fought with swords, some with daggers, and
some with only their fists
All day long the army of the Persians was kept at bay. But
when the sun went down, there was not one Spartan left
alive. Where they had stood there was only a heap of the
slain, all bristled over with spears and arrows.
Twenty thousand Persian soldiers had fallen before that
handful of men. And Greece was saved.
Thousands of years have passed since then; but men still
like to tell the story of Leonidas and the brave three
hundred who died for their country's sake.