This article provides some insights about what really happened in the Battle of Thermopylae, and how Hollywood has distorted the image of Persians, and suggests Persian-Americans focus their efforts to counter 300’s lies by making perhaps a movie of much greater historical and artistic worth.
As to why Persia attacked Greece, Cyrus Kar says,
The Greeks had been carrying out terrorist attacks on Persian holdings for years. They had attacked Persian cities, set fire to Persian temples, disrupted key trade routes, and pirated merchant ships crossing the Bosphorus. They incited rebellions inside Persian provinces, but perhaps most abhorrent to the Persians was the ease by which the Greeks broke their treaties and betrayed Persia’s trust.
Rather than resort to violence, however, Persia tried to keep the Greeks in check by financially supporting Greek politicians who were “pro-Persian,” much the same way America fights its proxy wars. But what finally triggered Persia’s wrath was an act rarely mentioned in the West, though well documented, even by Herodotus (7:11).
In 498 BCE, Athens carried out a terrorist attack on Sardis, a major Persian city, which made 9/11 seem like child’s play. Aristagoras, an Athenian, set fire to the “outlying parts” of Sardis trapping most of its population “in a ring of fire.” (Herodotus 5:101)
More innocent civilians died at the hands of Aristagoras than Osama bin Laden could ever hope to kill. And just as most of the world supported America’s retaliation against Al Qaeda, so did it rally in support of Persia’s attack on Athens.
The Spartans were not even targets of Persia’s attack, until they violated a universal protocol by killing a Persian messenger who Herodotus claims was asking for Sparta’s submission but in reality was probably sent by Persia’s king, Xerxes to convey the same message George Bush sent to the entire world after 9/11: “you’re either with us, or against us.”
The Spartans were Greek Jihadists who lived only to die. They were by all accounts ruthless savages who murdered Greek slaves known as “Helots” just for sport, cultivated a culture of thievery and rape, and practiced infanticide, as the movie ‘300’ rightly points out in its opening scenes. Sparta was not even democratic. It was an oligarchy at best. Despite knowing all this, the West continues to hail the Spartans as the saviors of Western democracy.
Yes, the Spartans died fighting a foreign invader. But so do countless Iraqi insurgents, yet few of us would consider them good guys. Those who do are then not much different from Westerners who cheer for the Spartans. Rooting for the Spartans merely because they were underdogs, is like rooting for Osama bin Laden today.