Aristodemus (Spartan)

__NOTOC__:"For the mythical descendent of Heracles, see Aristodemus."Aristodemus was a Spartan warrior, one of the famous "Three Hundred" sent to the Battle of Thermopylae. He was one of only two survivors of the Three Hundred, as he was not present at the last stand. Along with a comrade, Eurytus, Aristodemus was stricken with an eye infection, causing King Leonidas to order the two to return home before the battle, but Eurytus turned back, though blind, and met his end charging into the fray.Herodotus, "Polymnia":7.229] Schmitz vol 1. p304]

The Greek historian Herodotus believed that had both Aristodemus and Eurytus returned alive, or had Aristodemus alone been ill and excused from combat, the Spartans would have ascribed no blame to Aristodemus. However, because Eurytus did turn back and die in combat, Aristodemus was regarded as a coward and subjected to humiliation and disgrace at the hands of his compatriots; in the words of Herodotus, "no man would give him a light for his fire or speak to him; he was called Aristodemus the Coward". [Herodotus, "Polymnia":7.231]

The other survivor of the Three Hundred was a man named Pantites, who had been sent by Leonidas on an embassy to Thessaly. He failed to return to Thermopylae in time for the battle, and on finding himself in disgrace in Sparta, hung himself. [Herodotus, "Polymnia":7.232]


At the Battle of Plataea, Aristodemus fought with such fury that the Spartans regarded him as having redeemed himself. Although they removed the black mark against his name, they would not award him any special honors for his valour because he had fought with suicidal recklessness; the Spartans having regarded as more valorous those who fought while still wishing to live. Aristodemus charged, berserker-like, out of the phalanx and ultimately died on the enemy lines at Platea. [Herodotus, "Calliope":9.71]

In popular culture

* Caroline Dale Snedeker wrote The Spartan, a novel based on the life of Aristodemus [] . The book is faithful to the facts given in the ancient sources, but adds much which is not attested in them - in particular, the novel makes Aristodemus into a half-Athenian, who is not completely at home in either Sparta or Athens, and who was the target of prejudice by fellow-Spartans even before Thermopylae.
* A similar figure named Dilios appears in and partly narrates the 1998 graphic novel "300" by Frank Miller, which retells the events of Thermopylae. In the 2007 movie adaptation of the same name, Dilios was portrayed by David Wenham.



*" [ The History of Herodotus] ". Translated into English by G. C. Macaulay.
* Citation
last = Schmitz
first = Leonhard
contribution = Aristodemus
title = Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
volume = 1
pages = 304
publisher =
place =
year = 1867
contribution-url =

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