What Happened After the 300
The death of King Leonidas and most of the Spartan defenders during the iconic last stand of Thermopylae in 480 BCE was the focus of the 2007 movie, 300. Its follow-up, 300: Rise of an Empire, which has just premiered, covers a wider range of conflicts between the coalition of Greek city-states led by the Athenians, against the numerically superior invading Persian forces. Beginning with the Battle of Marathon (490 BCE) and ending with the naval engagement at Salamis (480 BCE), the link that connects this film with its predecessor is Thermopylae’s tangential battle, that at Artemisium.
Both of these highly stylized movies have been adapted from a pair of Frank Miller comic book series, which are ahistorical interpretations of the works of several ancient Greek historians. Further eroding any semblance of historical accuracy are the additions to the screenplay by Zack Snyder and co-writer Kurt Johnstad. While Rise emulates the look of its precursor, it’s visceral to a greater extent, and its lack of historicity is even more egregious.
It is the role of the main protagonist, Queen Artemisia, whose depiction as an ancient era femme fatale which borders on the incredulous. According to Herodotus, Artemisia commanded five vessels from her province of Caria. In Rise, her Machiavellian persona and manipulation of Xerxes allows her to assume command of the whole Persian armada, while killing everyone who stands in her way. Though several of the other pivotal characters such as the Athenian commander and strategist, Themistocles; Queen Gorgo of Sparta and King Xerxes of Persia have been subsumed from the Herodotean narrative, their roles in the film have also been significantly exaggerated.
The naval battles of 300: Rise of an Empire are entertaining, however, the film is polarizing . . . it will appeal to the viewers who enjoyed, 300, while those who didn’t will be disenchanted once again.
Our Reviewer: John Trikeriotis is a lecturer of ancient Greek warfare and a member of the archaeological group, “The Leonidas Expeditions”. He is also the adviser to “The Hellenic Warriors” living history association, which appears at schools, museums and universities presenting the armor, weapons, tactics and formations used by the ancient Greeks during the Graeco-Persian and Peloponnesian Wars. In addition, he maintains the website www.300spartanwarriors.com,, which provides a more authoritative summation of the events as they happened during the Battle of Thermopylae, in comparision to their depiction by Hollywood. His previous reviews for StrategyPage, include After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian War.