|Our detailed King Leonidas and Spartans Military Shield Pewter Necklace captures the battle-worn, arrow-pierced Spartan shield with the fearless words "MOLON LABE!" upon it, as if cut in with swords. The pendant is cast in lead-free matte pewter and is strung on an 18-inch black leather cord (2-mm thick). The lobster-style clasp is the easiest one to use that we could find; we wear what we make. Each pendant comes in a glossy black box and includes a poem card insert. Pendant size: approx. 1" diameter and 1/8" thick. This museum store gift is proudly made in the USA and Canada.
ABOUT KING LEONIDAS and THE SPARTANS:
The Spartans were the greatest warrior society in history. They knew duty and discipline like no others. They left leisure and luxury to lesser men. The Spartan city state had no walls and needed none; the battle-hardened men with spears and shields were 'The Walls of Sparta'.
From the cradle to the grave, they lived by their own iron code, and desired nothing less than a glorious death against a worthy foe. The merciless forging of a Spartan began at birth. A newborn deemed unfit for the rigors of Spartan life would be left to the wolves or thrown from a cliff to be dashed on the rocks below. This early death was deemed a mercy, as the weak could not survive the challenges that lay ahead.
At seven years of age, the Spartan boy left home to begin the long journey to become a Spartan soldier...a physical and moral paragon. The Agoge (military school) was designed to deliver the brutal hardships and training needed to create a supreme warrior; not all boys emerged as living men. A warrior who survived 13 brutal years in the Agoge was able to withstand the most demanding rigors of combat, would fight in a single, fearless unit, and was lethally skilled with sword, shield, and spear. After ten years of honorable service, the soldier became a full citizen, able to marry, vote, and hold office. Any still living that failed the trials of the Agoge were denied Spartan citizenship and destined to the life of a lesser man. In Sparta, earned merit was the great equalizer and only thing of true value.
The Spartan army inspired fear and obedience throughout the ancient world. Even a whisper that the Spartan army would enter a conflict was enough to soften the resolve of the hardest enemy. Victory never stalked far behind the unbreakable Spartan phalanx, a wall of spears and shields that took incredible discipline to maintain. The Spartans held fast and fought as a single unit, no matter what the odds. Time and time again an overwhelming number of enemies shattered against the shining wall of death. The odds were of little concern to those who knew no fear and only wanted a chance for a glorious death.
Of all the valors that crowned the Spartans, it is the glorious last stand of King Leonidas that has echoed throughout history. As a Spartan King he was "the first in the march and the last to retreat." The tale continues to be told, century after century, proving that a brave and righteous warrior is granted immortality through his deeds.
The 300 Spartans stood at Thermopylae against the Persian King Xerxes and, legend has it, a million of his warriors. Showing true Laconic wit, when the Persian army demanded that the Spartans surrender their weapons, Leonidas responded,
which translates as
"Come and take them!"
The Spartans knew it was better to die grasping a bloody sword than to live a long life in shameful defeat.
At the Thermopylae battle site a monument is inscribed with these words of a duty done:
Stranger! To Sparta say, her faithful band
Here lie in death, remembering her command.