21 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Twenty-One: The Hot Gates

In today’s episode, we’ll get into the tactical blood-and-guts scenario of the battle of Thermopylae … three days of “hell in a very small place.”

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here


  1. Joe Jansen on October 26, 2020 at 5:56 am

    Always grateful for this story, and the way Steve told it.

    I dug around and found some photos of the site…


    • andrew lubin on October 26, 2020 at 6:42 am

      Joe: Altho my copy of “Gates’ is marked-up and highlighted, Steve’s 10-point outline makes me want to read “Gates” yet again. Other versions, such as 2007’s trashy “The 300” movie not so much…

    • Joe on October 26, 2020 at 7:43 am

      Andrew… yes, rereads are something I get a lot out of. The last time, I reentered the scene where Arete had compelled Dienekes to help save the life of Rooster’s infant by claiming the lad as his own. The chill at the moment Medon spoke:

      “You have a son now, Dienekes,” he said. “Now you may be chosen.”
      My master regarded the elder quizzically, uncertain of his meaning.
      “For the Three Hundred,” Medon said. “For Thermopylae.”

      Feeling that slam of emotion, as if for the first time.

      • Andrew+Lubin on October 26, 2020 at 9:31 am

        Dienekes, on their last night: “Forget country. Forget king. Forget wife and children and freedom. Forget every concept, however noble that you imagine you fight for here today. Act for this alone; for the man who stands at your shoulder. He is everything and everything is contained within him.”

  2. andrew lubin on October 26, 2020 at 6:40 am

    The theme? In one word: “Brotherhood.” In three words “Honor-Courage-Commitment.”

  3. Brian Nelson on October 26, 2020 at 9:00 am

    I truly cannot get enough of this. My inspiration cup must be a sieve, because it needs to be continually refilled. When I read “Gates of Fire”, or listen to Steve talk about it, or read the comments of other aficionados, it is like reading it for the first time.

    When I was a young Soldier, I didn’t think much of my fellow troops. Many, if not most, were uneducated, and were uninterested in improvement. They had to be prodded to do PT. We spent all our money getting drunk on the weekends. In fact, I separated from the Army in 1997 because I didn’t want to stay in an organization that was so filled with mediocrity. I thought, the Army is simply a reflection of the US; no better, no worse.

    To be clear, it was never going to be a career-it was a way out of town and college money.

    I ended up staying in the Guard and finishing OCS to simply maintain my foreign language and ‘join a club’ as I ventured out to the corporate world to be a ‘Business Man’. It was what I had studied at night to finish my undergrad and grad school while enlisted to become. To get rich. (I’m ashamed that my values were so venal, but it is true.)

    One Monday I was at the DMV to get my Commercial Drivers License. I was managing a propane business, and needed to had the license with endorsements. I had been in the Guard for about 3 years by this point, a 1LT on the weekends, and a District Manager Mon-Fri. It was the Monday after drill when I looked around at the DMV. Frankly, it was gross. It looked like some of the ‘Walmart America’ photos. 90% of the crowd was overweight. Most people didn’t appear to have showered. There was one guy standing off to the side in a starched shirt, looking like an alien.

    If finally dawned on me that the US Army was the best possible reflection of our country. Yes, many of the young troops spend their treasure getting drunk–not unlike most undergraduates. Yes, many of those troops must be prodded to get up and do PT. Yes, if left to their own devices–they’d sit in their rooms playing video games—but, they did PT, they conduct hygiene, they do the work–and eventually the values of the Army slowly seep into the veins of most of us. We leave different than we joined.

    As I sat there in the DMV, I was so grateful for my membership into an organization with such great people. That gratitude exists to this day. There is something about knowing someone served that not only connects us, but also immediately engenders a trust that doesn’t exist outside. Like Andrew said above, “Brotherhood”.

    • Andrew+Lubin on October 26, 2020 at 9:45 am

      Brian – what a perfect example! It’s easy to do the right thing in combat; the challenge is getting a group of disorganized knuckleheads to realize that it’s training, training, and training that will get them through the rough times together. And that’s what makes them better than when they joined //

    • Joe on October 26, 2020 at 10:27 am

      Good thoughts, Brian.

  4. Nazim on October 26, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    Great video!
    One thing I still don’t understand is that why do we talk about the 300 while there were way more actual fighters during the battle. Did the other not really fight or did their role was too minor?

  5. Andrew+Lubin on October 26, 2020 at 7:16 pm

    The Spartans get the credit because the other Greek citi-states (Corinthians, Mycenians, Teagates, Lokrians. Philaiasians, others) participating fought under their control. But on the final day, when Leonidas released them, the Thespians stayed with the Spartans and fought until the end. Remember it was the same for the Persians; while they get the credit for defeating the Spartans, Xerxes actually commanded an army that consisted of Armenians, Indians, Egyptians, Macedonians, Medes, Assyrians, Bactrians, Babylonians, Ethopians, and many others. Who remembers them?

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