No retreat, no surrender. That is Spartan law. And by Spartan law, we will stand and fight... and die. A new age has begun: an age of freedom! And all will know that 300 Spartans gave their last breath to defend it!
Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty, for tonight, we dine in Hell!
[Regarding Leonidas' upbringing] From the time he could stand, he was baptized in the fire of combat. Taught never to retreat, never to surrender. Taught that death on the battlefield in service to Sparta was the greatest glory he could achieve in his life.
[Regarding Xerxes] A man who fancies himself a god feels a very human chill crawl up his spine.
"Remember us." As simple an order as a king can give. "Remember why we died." For he did not wish tribute or song. No monuments, no poems of war and valour. His wish was simple: "Remember us," he said to me. That was his hope. Should any free soul come across that place, in all the countless centuries yet to be, may all our voices whisper to you from the ageless stones: Go tell the Spartans, passer-by, that here, by Spartan law, we lie. So my king died, and my brothers died... Barely a year ago, long I pondered my king's cryptic talk of victory. But time has proven him wise. For from free Greek to free Greek, the word was spread that bold Leonidas and his 300, so far from home, laid down their lives, not just for Sparta, but for all Greece and the promise this country holds! Now, here on this ragged patch of earth called Plataea, Xerxes' hordes face obliteration! Just there the barbarians huddle, sheer terror gripping tight their hearts with icy fingers, knowing full well what merciless horrors they suffered at the swords and spears of 300. Yet they stare now across the plain at 10,000 Spartans commanding 30,000 free Greeks! The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one; good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny, and usher in a future brighter than anything we could imagine! Give thanks, men! To Leonidas, and the brave 300! To victory!
Persian messenger: If you value your lives over your complete annihilation... listen carefully, Leonidas. Xerxes conquers and controls everything he rests his eyes upon. He leads an army so massive, it shakes the ground with its march. So vast, it drinks the rivers dry. All the God-King Xerxes requires is this: A simple offering of earth and water... a token of Sparta's submission to the will of Xerxes.
Leonidas: Submission. Now, that's a bit of a problem. See, rumor has it... the Athenians have already turned you down. And if those philosophers and boy-lovers have found that kind of nerve, then——
Theron: We must be diplomatic.
Leonidas: [cutting him off] And, of course, Spartans... have their reputation to consider.
Persian messenger: Choose your next words carefully, Leonidas. They may be your last as king.
[Leonidas turns and ponders the offer. He looks at various people standing around, watching him nervously, the last of whom is Gorgo.]
Leonidas: [in his head] "Earth and water." [having made up his mind, he draws his sword on the Persian messenger, whose back is to a large well. The Spartan guards follow suit and draw their swords on the other messengers.]
Persian messenger: Madman. You're a madman.
Leonidas: Earth and water. You'll find plenty of both down there. [indicates the well with his sword]
Persian messenger: [nervous] No man, Persian or Greek, no man threatens a messenger.
Leonidas: You bring the crowns and heads of conquered kings to my city's steps. You insult my queen. You threaten my people with slavery and death. Oh, I've chosen my words carefully, Persian. Perhaps you should have done the same.
Persian messenger: This is blasphemy. This is madness! [Leonidas lowers his sword and looks toward Gorgo, who nods]
Leonidas: [to Persian messenger] Madness? THIS—IS—SPARTA![kicks the Persian messenger into the deep well]
King Leonidas: Then what must a king do to save his world when the very laws he has sworn to protect force him to do nothing?
Queen Gorgo: It is not a question of what a Spartan citizen should do, nor a husband, nor a king. Instead, ask yourself, my dearest love, what should a free man do?
Persian Emissary: [encountering a group of Greeks building a wall to hold off the Persians] I am the emissary to the ruler of all the world, the god of gods, king of kings, and by that authority I demand that someone show me your commander! [Greeks ignore him] Listen. Do you think the paltry dozen you slew scare us? These hills swarm with our scouts! And do you think your pathetic wall will do anything other than fall like a heap of dry leaves in the face of... [sees that the stone wall is partially made up of Persian corpses]
Stelios: Our ancestors built this wall, using ancient stones from the bosom of Greece herself. And with a little Spartan help, your Persian scouts provided the mortar.
Persian Emissary: You will pay for your barbarism! [swings his whip to strike Stelios, who surges forward and cuts off his arm] My arm!
Stelios: It's not yours anymore. Go now, run along and tell your Xerxes that he faces free men here, not slaves. Do it quickly, before we decide to make our wall just a little bit bigger.
Persian Emissary: No, not slaves. Your women will be slaves. Your sons, your daughters, your elders will be slaves, but not you. By noon this day, you will all be dead men! The thousand nations of the Persian Empire descend upon you! Our arrows will blot out the sun!
Stelios: [grins] Then we will fight in the shade.
[The ground begins to shake]
Leonidas: No, Captain. Battle formations! [The first wave of Persian infantry begins to advance on the Spartan position] This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!
Captain: Earn these shields, boys!
Leonidas: Remember this day, men. For it will be yours for all time! [The Persian Officer rides through the ranks on his horse to address the Spartans ahead.]
Persian Officer: Spartans! Lay down your weapons. [a spear flies from the Spartans, killing the Persian officer.]
Leonidas: [at the front row] Persians! [assumes phalanx stance with the men on his row]Come and get them! [The Persians sound the advance and charge towards the Spartans.]
Leonidas: Give them nothing! But take from them... everything!
[Xerxes has advanced to meet Leonidas, seated on a solid gold throne carried on the backs of many slaves.]
Leonidas: Let me guess... you must be... Xerxes?
Xerxes: Come, Leonidas. Let us reason together. It would be a regrettable waste, it would be nothing short of madness, were you, brave King, and your valiant troops to perish... all because of a simple misunderstanding. There is much our cultures could share.
Leonidas: Oh, haven't you noticed? We've been sharing our culture with you all morning.
Xerxes: Yours is a fascinating tribe. Even now, you are defiant, in the face of annihilation and the presence of a god. It isn't wise to stand against me, Leonidas. Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory.
Leonidas: And I would die for any one of mine.
Xerxes: You Greeks take pride in your logic. I suggest you employ it. Consider the beautiful land you so vigorously defend. Picture it reduced to ash at my whim! Consider the fate of your women!
Leonidas: Clearly you don't know our women. I might as well have marched them up here, judging by what I've seen. You have many slaves, Xerxes, but few warriors. It won't be long before they fear my spears more than your whips.
Xerxes: It is not the lash they fear, it is my divine power. But I am a generous god. I can make you rich beyond all measure. I will make you warlord of all Greece. You will carry my battle standard to the heart of Europa. Your Athenian rivals will kneel at your feet... if you will but kneel at mine.
Leonidas: You are generous as you are divine, O King of Kings. Such an offer only a madman would refuse. But the, uh, the idea of kneeling, it's... You see, slaughtering all those men of yours has, uh, well, it's left a nasty cramp in my leg, so kneeling will be hard for me.
Xerxes: [incensed at what Leonidas just said] There will be no glory in your sacrifice. I will erase even the memory of Sparta from the histories. Every piece of Greek parchment shall be burned, and every Greek historian and every scribe shall have their eyes put out and their tongues cut from their mouths! Why, uttering the very name of Sparta or Leonidas will be punishable by death! The world will never know you existed at all!
Leonidas: The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many and, before this battle is over, that even a god-king can bleed.
[Gorgo meets Theron]
Theron: Beautiful night.
Gorgo: Yes, but I did not ask you here for a small talk, Theron [grabs her dress and walks with Theron]
Theron: You can be sure of that, you never spared words with me.
Gorgo: Can I offer you something?. A drink perhaps?.
Theron: [nervously] Is it poison?
Gorgo: I'm sorry to disappoint you, it's only water.
Theron[drinks his water in a cup] I'm told it's been arranged for you to go before the council.
Theron: I need your help in winning votes to send the army north to our king.
Theron: I can see it, the two of us standing together. Me, politician. You, warrior. Our voices as one. But why would I want to do that?
Gorgo: It proves you care for a king who right now fights for the very water we drink.
Theron: True, But this is politics, not war. Leonidas is an idealist.
Gorgo: I know your kind too well. You send men to slaughter for your own gain.
Theron: Your husband, our king, has taken 300 of our finest to slaughter. He's broken our laws and left without the council's consent. I'm simply a realist.
Gorgo: You're an opportunist.
Theron: You're as foolish as Leonidas if you think men don't have a price in this world. All men are not created equal. That's the Spartan code, my little queen. [reels from being slapped by Gorgo] I admire your passion. But don't think that you... A woman, even a queen can walk into the council chamber and sway the minds of men. [coldly] I own that chamber as if it were built with these hands. [grabs Gorgo by the throat and pins her back into the wall] I could crush the life out of you right now. [into Gorgo's face] You will go before the council, but your words will fall on deaf ears. Leonidas will receive no reinforcements, and if he returns without my help, he will go to jail or worse! Now, Do you love your Sparta?
Theron: And your king?
Gorgo: I do!
Theron: [releases grip on Gorgo's throat and tightens his strap cape] Your husband fights for his land and his love. What do you have to offer in return for my word that I'll help you send our army north?
Gorgo: What does a realist want with his queen?
Theron: I think you know. [pauses; amazed at Gorgo stripping her dress, he presses her against the wall] This will not be over quickly. You will not enjoy this. I am not your king. [begins to rape Gorgo]
[Leonidas sees the other Greek forces pulling out upon hearing reports of Ephialtes tipping off the Persians about the goat path and planning an encirclement]
Leonidas: This battle is over when I say it is over.
Daxos: By morning the Immortals will surround us. The hot gates will fall.
Leonidas: SPARTANS! PREPARE FOR GLORY!!!
Daxos: Glory? Have you gone mad? There's no glory to be hunted now. Only retreat or surrender... or death.
Leonidas: Well, that's an easy choice for us, Arcadian. Spartans never retreat! Spartans never surrender! Go spread the word. Let every Greek assembled know the truth of this. Let each among them search his own soul. And while you're at it, search your own.