301 at Comicon, 2007, London


Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Saturday, September 01, 2007

300 is a historically-inspired 1998 comic book limited series (later collected into a single hardcover volume) written and illustrated by Frank Miller with painted colors by Lynn Varley.


301, originally uploaded by Craig Grobler.

The comic is a fictional retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae and the events leading up to it from the perspective of Leonidas of Sparta. 300 was particularly inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, a movie that Miller watched as a young boy. The work was adapted into a film with 2007's 300.

In 480 BC, King Leonidas of Sparta gathers 300 of his best men to fight the upcoming Persian invasion. In what is likely a suicide mission, they and their allies plan to stop King Xerxes's invasion of Greece at the narrow cliffs of the "Hot Gates" (Thermopylae). The terrain prevents the Greeks from being overwhelmed by Xerxes' superior numbers.

Before the battle starts, Ephialtes, a deformed Spartan, begs Leonidas to let him fight but is rejected due to his hunchbacked form, which prevents him from lifting his shield high enough for the phalanx.

The Spartans and their allies successfully hold off the Persians for two days and nights. During a break in the fighting, Xerxes meets with Leonidas and offers wealth and power in exchange for his surrender. Leonidas declines, and battle continues. In his depression, Ephialtes betrays the Greeks by telling the Persians about the existence of a small pass that allows Xerxes to attack them from behind.

Learning of the Persian maneuvers, the Greeks realize their position is indefensible, but the Spartans and a few others refuse to retreat. Before engaging the Persians for the last time, Leonidas orders one Spartan (Dilios) to leave, so that he might survive to tell their story.

On the third day Xerxes has the Spartans surrounded, their remaining allies (Thespians) already dead. He gives Leonidas one final chance to surrender and kneel to him. After some hesitation, Leonidas finally complies and throws down his arms. This, however, turns out to be a ruse and Leonidas throws his spear at Xerxes, intending to kill. However, he only wounds his face. The Spartans are killed to the last man by arrows.

The story then shifts about a year later and ends as now-Captain Dilios relates the heroic sacrifice of Leonidas and his Spartan comrades to his troops before the Battle of Plataea. Which is rumoured to be the the basis for the cinematic sequel to 300.

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