More about the swords and sandles later, but I've realized I can get a lot of mileage out of old Xerxes. At least the Xerxes in the movie script. More than a few folks who reviewed the film on Amazon found a cold war subtext to the film. Maybe there was, frankly I don't really see it. But......
The Greeks know thay can't defeat the Persian army in the open either on land or at sea so they choose the narrow pass at Theromopylae and the narrowest section of water near it and hope they're still unoccupied when they get there.
When one of Xerxes commanders reports that Greek forces have pulled out leaving the pass undefended he suggests that since possession is nine tenths of the law, sending troops to occupy it would be, in his humble opinion, a really, really (insert as many reallys as you want) good idea. "Yes, Great King, I know we have more troops than there are rocks in Greece, but no sense giving our ridiculously outnumbered opponants an advantage." Xerxes shoots this idea out of the water faster than you can say scantily clad dancing girls. Occupying the pass he claims would make him look weak in front of his enemies. "It's my war and I'll fight it my way." If the Greek army is headstrong enough to choose to fight his troops on the open plains it will just make it easier to defeat them. Is there anything in this attitude that sounds vaguely familiar?
Any resemblance between the current Great Decider and any characters in movie scripts or history books is purely conincidental. It does suggest that not being able to see past the end of your nose or your ego spans the centuries. And now that I've thoroughly depressed myself, pass the chocolate.
And the pass? The Spartan philosophy may have regarded death in battle as the ultimate fate of a warrior, but nothing in the laws said anything about making it easy for the enemy to help you meet that fate. No way Jose.
So over the centuries you can almost hear them. "Yeah, I can understand why you think that nice piece of flat ground over there might appeal to us. But, this little piece of real estate over here near the bay looks just fine thank you. We're not a big group, this is just the right size. Yes, it is pretty uneven and there are a lot of rocks. We'll be sure to watch our step, thanks for your concern. Man what a find.There's this really great wall right here. Replace some of the fallen stones and it'll help guard our backs very nicely, thank you. Sorry you can't bring your entire army to face us at once and you don't have room to manuever your cavalry or your chariots. Them's the breaks. We should be able to manage for a few days though, thank you. Oh, and please ignore any stories you hear about a little used, almost impossible to find goat track that comes out on the other side of the pass."