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Dienekes | Spartan Soldier, Military, Death, Biography, Early Life


IntroSpartan soldier
IsSoldier, Warrior
Death1 January 480, Thermopylae


Dienekes or Dieneces (Greek: Διηνέκης, “continuous, unbroken”) was a Spartan soldier who fought and was killed at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. He was acclaimed the bravest of all the Greeks who fought in that battle. Herodotus related the following anecdote about Dienekes:”(…) the Spartan Dienekes is said to have proved himself the best man of all, the same who, as they report, uttered this saying before they engaged battle with the Medes:–being informed by one of the men of Trachis that when the Barbarians discharged their arrows they obscured the light of the sun by the multitude of the arrows, so great was the number of their host, he was not dismayed by this, but making small account of the number of the Medes, he said that their guest from Trachis brought them very good news, for if the Medes obscured the light of the sun, the battle against them would be in the shade and not in the sun.” — Histories, 7.226

Plutarch also mentions this comment, but he attributes it to Leonidas I, Dienekes’ general in the battle. According to Plutarch, when one of the soldiers complained to Leonidas that “Because of the arrows of the barbarians it is impossible to see the sun,” Leonidas replied, “Won’t it be nice, then, if we shall have shade in which to fight them?”

Herodotus also mentions that Dienekes said many other similar things which made him unforgotten.

Dienekes is one of the main characters in Steven Pressfield’s novel Gates of Fire. He does not appear in the 1962 film The 300 Spartans; his famous line is delivered instead by King Leonidas himself in reply to a threat from the Persian general Hydarnes (the same scene also includes Leonidas’ famous phrase, Molōn labe). He also does not appear in Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300 or the film based on it; his famous quip is delivered instead by the fictional character Stelios. Moreover, Stelios makes the remark in response to a Persian taunt, not the statement of a fellow Greek.

In his honor, the street on the left of the empty tomb (cenotaph, κενοτάφιο) of King Leonidas I in Sparta is named after him.

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