Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Monday, 29 September 2014
The 300 Spartans is a 1962 Cinemascope film depicting the Battle of Thermopylae. Made with the cooperation of the Greek government, it was shot in the village of Perachora in the Peloponnese. It starred Richard Egan the Spartan king Leonidas, Ralph Richardson as Themistocles of Athens and David Farrar Persian king Xerxes, with Diane Baker Ellas and Barry Coe as Phylon providing the requisite romantic element in the film. In the film, a force of Greek warriors led by 300 Spartans fights against a Persian army of almost limitless size. Despite the odds, the Spartans will not flee or surrender, even if it means their deaths.
When it was released in 1962, critics saw the movie as a commentary or referring to the independent Greek states as "the only stronghold of freedom remaining in the then known world", holding out against the Persian "slave empire".
The film was shot near the village of Perachora on the northern, mainland side of the Corinth canal. It was impossible to shoot at the actual location in Thermopylae because the sea had receded about 3 miles farther away from the narrow pass at the time of the actual battle in 480 B.C. Some 5,000 members of the Royal Hellenic Army were loaned by the King of Greece to portray both the Spartans and the Persians.Xerxes I of Persia leads a vast army of soldiers into Europe to defeat the small city-states of Greece, not only to fulfill the idea of "one world ruled by one master", but also to avenge the defeat of his father at the Battle of Marathon ten years before. Accompanying him are Artemisia I, the Queen of Halicarnassus, beguiles Xerxes with her feminine charm, and Demaratus, an exiled king of Sparta, to whose warnings Xerxes pays little heed.
In Corinth, Themistocles of Athens wins the support of the Greek allies and convinces both the delegates and the Spartan representative, Leonidas I, to grant Sparta leadership of their forces. Outside the hall, Leonidas and Themistocles agree to fortify the pass at Thermopylae until the rest of the army arrives. After this, Leonidas learns of the Persian advance and travels to Sparta to spread the news.
In Sparta, his fellow king Leotychidas is fighting a losing battle with the Ephors over a religious festival that is due to take place, with members of the council arguing that the army should wait until after the festival is over before it marches, while Leotychidas fears that by that time the Persians may have conquered Greece. Leonidas decides to march north immediately with his personal bodyguard of 300 men, who are exempt from the decisions of the Ephors and the Gerousia. They are subsequently reinforced by Thespians led byDemophilus and other Greek allies.
After several days of fighting, Xerxes grows angry as his army is repeatedly routed by the Greeks, with the Spartans in the forefront. Leonidas receives word that, by decision of the Ephors, the remainder of the Spartan army, rather than joining him as he had expected, will only fortify the isthmus in the Peloponnese and will advance no further. The Greeks constantly beat back the Persians, and following the defeat of his personal bodyguard in battle against the Spartans, Xerxes begins to consider withdrawing to Sardis until he can equip a larger force at a later date. As he prepares to withdraw, however, Xerxes receives word from the treacherous and avaricious Ephialtes of a goat-track through the mountains that will enable his forces to attack the Greeks from the rear. Promising to reward Ephialtes for his betrayal, Xerxes sends his army onward.
Once Leonidas realizes he will be surrounded, he sends away the Greek allies to alert the cities to the south. Being too few to hold the pass, the Spartans instead attack the Persian front, where Xerxes is nearby. Leonidas is killed in the melée. Meanwhile the Thespians, who had refused to leave, are overwhelmed (offscreen) while defending the rear. Surrounded, the surviving Spartans refuse Xerxes's demand to give up Leonidas' body. They are then annihilated by arrowfire.
After this, narration states that the Battle of Salamis and the Battle of Plataea end the Persian invasion, which could not have been organized without the time bought by the 300 Spartans who defied the tyranny of Xerxes at Thermopylae. One of the final images of the film is the memorial bearing the epigram of Simonides of Ceos, which is recited.
"O Stranger, send the news home to the people of Sparta that here we
- Are laid to rest: the commands they gave us have been obeyed."
- Richard Egan as King Leonidas, Agiad King of Sparta
- Ralph Richardson as Themistocles of Athens
- Diane Baker as Ellas, daughter of Pentheus and niece of Queen Gorgo
- Barry Coe as Phyllon, son of Grellas, a Spartan in love with Ellas
- Anna Synodinou as Queen Gorgo, Leonidas' wife
- David Farrar as King Xerxes of the Persian Empire
- Anne Wakefield as Artemisia, Queen of Halicarnassus
- Ivan Triesault as Demaratus, exiled Euripontid ex-King of Sparta
- Nikos Papakonstantinou (1920-1993) as Mardonius, Persian general
- Donald Houston as Hydarnes, Persian general leader of the Immortals
- Robert Brown as Pentheus, Spartan soldier second-in-command to Leonidas
- John Crawford as Agathon, Spartan spy and soldier
- Charles Fawcett as Megistias, Spartan priest
- Kieron Moore as Ephialtes of Trachis
- Yorgos Moutsios as Grellas, a Spartan in Xerxes' camp
- Dimos Starenios as Samos, a goatherd living in the vicinity of Thermopylae
- Anna Raftopoulou as Toris, Samos' wife
- John Contes as Artovadus, Persian general
- Michalis Nikolinakos as Myron, a Spartan
- Sandro Giglio as Xenathon, a Spartan Ephor
- Laurence Naismith as unnamed Greek delegate
- Marietta Flemotomos as unnamed Greek woman at shield ceremony
Artabazanes claimed the crown as the eldest of all the children, because it was an established custom all over the world for the eldest to have the pre-eminence; while Xerxes, on the other hand, urged that he was sprung from Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, and that it was Cyrus who had won the Persians their freedom. Some modern scholars also view the unusual decision of Darius to give the throne to Xerxes to be a result of his consideration of the unique positions that Cyrus the Great and his daughter Atossa have had. Artobazan was born to "Darius the subject", while Xerxes was the eldest son born in the purple after Darius's rise to the throne, and Artobazan's mother was a commoner while Xerxes's mother was the daughter of the founder of the empire.
Xerxes was crowned and succeeded his father in October–December 486 BC when he was about 36 years old.The transition of power to Xerxes was smooth due again in part to the great authority of Atossa and his accession of royal power was not challenged by any person at court or in the Achaemenian family, or any subject nation.
Almost immediately, he suppressed the revolts in Egypt and Babylon that had broken out the year before, and appointed his brother Achaemenes as governor or satrap (Old Persian: khshathrapavan) over Egypt. In 484 BC, he outraged the Babylonians by violently confiscating and melting down the golden statue of Bel (Marduk, Merodach), the hands of which the rightful king of Babylon had to clasp each New Year's Day. This sacrilege led the Babylonians to rebel in 484 BC and 482 BC, so that in contemporary Babylonian documents, Xerxes refused his father's title of King of Babylon, being named rather as King of Persia and Media, Great King, King of Kings (Shahanshah) and King of Nations (i.e. of the world).
Even though Herodotus's report in the Histories has created certain problems concerning Xerxes's religious beliefs, modern scholars consider him a Zoroastrian was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August or September 480 BC, at the narrow coastal pass ofThermopylae ('The Hot Gates'). The Persian invasion was a delayed response to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece, which had been ended by the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. Xerxes had amassed a huge army and navy, and set out to conquer all of Greece. The Athenian general Themistocles had proposed that the allied Greeks block the advance of the Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae, and simultaneously block the Persian navy at the Straits of Artemisium.
A Greek force of approximately 7,000 men marched north to block the pass in the summer of 480 BC. The Persian army, alleged by the ancient sources to have numbered over one million but today considered to have been much smaller (various figures are given by scholars ranging between about 100,000 and 300,000),[7arrived at the pass in late August or early September. The vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians for seven days (including three of battle) before the rear-guard was annihilated in one of history's most famous last stands. During two full days of battle the small force led by King Leonidas I of Sparta blocked the only road by which the massive Persian army could pass. After the second day of battle a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a small path that led behind the Greek lines. Leonidas, aware that his force was being outflanked, dismissed the bulk of the Greek army and remained to guard the rear with 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans and perhaps a few hundred others, most of whom were killed.
After this engagement the Greek navy, under the command of the Athenian politician Themistocles, at Artemisium received news of the defeat at Thermopylae. Since the Greek's strategy required both Thermopylae and Artemisium to be held, and given their losses, the withdrawal to Salamis was decided. The Persians overran Boeotia and then captured the evacuated Athens. The Greek fleet, seeking a decisive victory over the Persian armada, attacked and defeated the invaders at the Battle of Salamis in late 480 BC. Fearful of being trapped in Europe, Xerxes withdrew with much of his army to Asia (losing most to starvation and disease), leaving Mardonius to attempt to complete the conquest of Greece. The following year, however, saw a Greek army decisively defeat the Persians at the Battle of Plataea, thereby ending the Persian invasion.
Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending native soil. The performance of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is also used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
The Border War,or the Mexico has experienced many changes in territorial organization during its history as an independent state. The territorial boundaries of Mexico were affected by presidential and imperial decrees. One such decree was the Law of Bases for the Convocation of the Constituent Congress to the Constitutive Act of the Mexican Federation, which determined the national land area as the result of integration of the jurisdictions that corresponded to New Spain, the Captaincy General of Yucatán, the Captaincy General of Guatemala and the autonomous Kingdoms of East and West. The decree resulted in the independence from Spain.The historical roots of today's Texas Ranger Division trace back to the first days of Anglo-American settlement of what is today the State of Texas, when it was part of the Province of Coahuila y Tejas belonging to the newly independent country of Mexico. The unique characteristics that the Rangers adopted during the force's formative years and that give the division its heritage today—characteristics for which the Texas Rangers would become world renowned—have been accounted for by the nature of the Rangers' duties. Which was to protect a thinly populated frontier against protracted hostilities, first with Plains Indian tribes, and after the Texas Revolution, hostilities with Mexico.
Texas historian T.R. Fehrenbach has written regarding the Rangers' uniqueness:
- The Rangers were to be described many times, at first as state troops, later as a police force or constabulary. During most of the 19th century they were neither. They were apart from the regular army, the militia or national guard, and were never a true police force. They were instead one of the most colorful, efficient, and deadly band of irregular partisans on the side of law and order the world has seen. They were called into being by the needs of a war frontier, by a society that could not afford a regular army. Texans passed in and out of the Rangers regularly; in the early years a very high proportion of all west Texans served from time to time. If they bore certain similarities to Mamelukesand Cossacks, they were never quite the same
In their early days, Rangers performed tasks of protecting the Texas Frontier against Indian attacks on the settlers. During the Texas Revolution, they served mainly as scouts, spies, couriers, and guides for the settlers fleeing before the Mexican Army and performed rear guard during the Runaway Scrape and general support duties. These minor roles continued after independence, when the region became the Republic of Texas under President Sam Houston. Houston, who had lived with the Cherokee
for many years (and who had taken a Cherokee wife), favored peaceful coexistence with Indians, a policy that left little space for a force with the Rangers' characteristics.
This situation changed radically when Mirabeau B. Lamar
became president of the Republic of Texas in December 1838. Lamar had participated in skirmishes with the Cherokee in his home state of Georgia; like most Texians, he had not forgotten the support the Cherokee had given the Mexicans at the Cordova Rebellion against the Republic. He favored the eradication of Indians in Texas—a view that he shared with Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Thomas Rusk
. Lamar saw in the Rangers the perfect tool for the task, and he obtained permission from the Texas Legislature to raise a force of 56 Rangers, along with other volunteer companies. During the following three years, he engaged the Rangers in a war against the Cherokee and the Comanche and succeeded in weakening their territorial control
The scenario changed radically for the Rangers with the state election of 1873. When newly elected Governor Richard Coketook office in January 1874, it marked the end of Reconstruction for the Lone Star State, and he vigorously restored order to Texas in pursuit of improvements to both the economy and security. Once again Indians and Mexican bandits were threatening the frontiers, and once again the Rangers were tasked with solving the problem. That same year, the state legislature authorized the
recommissioning of the Rangers and a special force was created within its aegis: the Frontier Battalion, consisting of six companies of 75 men each under the command of Major John B. Jones.
This group played a major role in the control of ordinary lawbreakers as well as the defense against hostile Indian tribes, which was particularly necessary in the period of lawlessness and social collapse of the Reconstruction.
The Frontier Battalion was soon augmented with the Special Force, a second military group of 40 men under Captain Leander H. McNelly,
with the specific task of bringing order in the area of south Texas between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande,
called the Nueces Strip.
At this particular region, the general situation of lawlessness was aggravated by the proximity of Texas to Mexico and the conflict between agrarian and cattle interests. Raids along the frontier were common, and not only perpetrated by ordinary bandits but also promoted by local Mexicancaudillos.
In particular, Juan Cortina's men were again conducting periodic guerrilla operations against local ranchers. In the following two years, McNelly and his group energetically engaged these threats and virtually eradicated them.A second sergeant of J. R. Waller's Company "A" was Dallas Stoudenmire,
later El Paso Police Chief and Deputy U.S. Marshal.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Texas's frontiers had become more settled, thus rendering the 1874 legislation obsolete after the organization had existed as a quasi-military force for more than 25 years. Amidst serious legal troubles that questioned the authority of the Rangers to exert such a role, new resolutions appropriate to the current times were adopted. The Frontier Battalion was disbanded with the passing of new legislation on July 8, 1901, and a new Ranger force was created, consisting of four companies of "no more than 20 men each" with a captain in command of every unit. The Rangers had evolved into an agency with an exclusive law enforcement focus.
The Mexican Revolution that began in 1910 against President Porfirio Díaz
changed the relatively peaceful state of affairs along the border. Soon after, violence on both sides of the frontier escalated as bands of Mexicans took over border towns and began crossing the Rio Grande on a near-daily basis. Taking over trade routes in Mexico by establishing themselves as road agents,
Mexican banditos turned towards attacking the American communities for kidnapping, extortion, and supplies. As Mexican law enforcement disintegrated with the collapse of the Diaz regime, these gangs grouped themselves under the various caudillos on both sides of the border and took sides in the civil war, most simply to take advantage of the turmoil to loot Then, as the lack of American military forces for defending the border became clearer, the scope of the activities soon turned to outright genocide with the intention of driving Americans out of the Southwest entirely; this became known as the Plan de San Diego in 1915. In several well-rehearsed attacks, Mexicans rose up and in conjunction with raiding Villista
guerrillas, within weeks had killed over 500 Texan women, children, and men.
The political decision of the Texans was to restore control and order by any necessary means. As Governor Oscar Branch Colquitt
instructed Ranger Captain John R. Hughes, "...you and your men are to keep Mexican raiders off of Texas territory if possible, and if they invade the State let them understand they do so at the risk of their lives." Hundreds of new special Rangers were appointed by order of the state, which neglected to carefully screen aspiring members. Rather than conduct themselves as law enforcement officers, many of these groups acted more like vigilante squads. Reports of Rangers abusing their authority and breaking the law themselves increased.The situation grew even more dramatic when on March 9, 1916, Pancho Villa led 500 Mexican raiders in a cross-border attack against Columbus, New
Mexico, increasing the high tension that had already existed between the communities. Villa and General Ramon Banda Quesada, in an attack against the town that was garrisoned by a detachment of the 13th Cavalry Regiment (United States),
seized 100 horses and mules, burned the town, killed 14 soldiers and 10 residents, and took ammunition and weaponry before retreating back into Mexico. Quesada had five men captured and suffered the loss of 80 dead or mortally wounded, mostly from the U.S. machine gun emplacements.
The final straw was the killing of innocent villagers, wrongly accused of raiding the Brite Ranch Store on Christmas Day in 1917. In January 1918 a heavily armed group of Texas Rangers, ranchmen and members a troop of U.S. Cavalry descended upon the tiny community of Porvenir, Texas on the Mexican border in western Presidio County. The Rangers and company rounded up the inhabitants of the village and searched their homes. They then proceeded to gather all the men in Provenir (fifteen Mexican men and boys ranging in age from 16 to 72 years) and march them off into the darkness. A short distance from Porvenir, the men were lined up against a rock bluff and shot to death. In January 1919, the Porvenir massacre came under the scrutiny of the Texas House and Senate Investigation of the State Ranger Force.
Before the decade was over, thousands of lives were lost, Texans and Mexicans alike. In January 1919, at the initiative of Representative José T. Canales of Brownsville, the Texas Legislature launched a full investigation of Rangers' actions throughout these years. The investigation found that from 300 up to 5,000 people, mostly of Hispanic descent, had been killed by Rangers from 1910 to 1919, and that members of the Rangers had been involved in many acts of brutality and injustice.
These were the most turbulent times in the history of the Rangers, and with the objective of recycling the force's membership, putting it back in tune with its past and restoring the public's trust, the Legislature passed on March 31, 1919, a resolution to purge it and enhance it and its procedures. All special Ranger groups were disbanded; the four official companies were kept, albeit their members were reduced from 20 to 15 each; better payment was offered in order to attract men of higher personal standards; and a method for citizens to articulate complaints against any further misdeeds or abuses was established.
The reforms proved positive, and the new Ranger force eventually regained the status of a respectable agency. Under the command of captains such as Frank Hamer (who later became famous for leading the party that killed the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde), the Rangers displayed remarkable activity in the following years, including the continuous fighting of cattle rustlers, intervening in the violent labor disputes of the time and protecting the citizenry involved in Ku Klux Klan's public displays from violent mob reaction. With the passage of the Volstead Act and the beginning of the Prohibition on January 16, 1920, their duties extended to scouting the border for tequila smugglers and detecting and dismantling the illegal stills that abounded along Texas's territory.
One of the Rangers' highest-profile interventions during this period was taming Texas's oil boomtowns (beginning with Spindletop's discovery in 1901), which had developed into lawless territories. During the 1920s, martial law was decreed on several of these towns, such as Mexia
and Borger; at others, like Desdemona, Wink, Ranger, Kilgore andBurkburnett, the situation was also very serious, and the Rangers were called in to quell agitated locals and terminate all illegal activities. This trouble continued until well in the 1950s, but the Rangers prevented it from growing into an even more dramatic problem. At Borger, a total of ten officers were sent on April 7, 1927, including Captain Hamer. The balance of the Rangers' activities upon their arrival as reported was:
A thorough-going clean-up was put underway. The liquor traffic was broken up, many stills being seized and destroyed, and several thousand gallons of whiskey being captured and poured out. Two hundred and three gambling slot machines were seized and destroyed, and in a period of twenty four hours, no less than twelve hundred prostitutes left the town of Borger