Sparta, the warrior society of ancient Greece, reached the pinnacle of its power after defeating its rivals from Athens in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.). The Spartan culture revolved around three core values: discipline, obedience, and courage. They placed these virtues above all else, as you can see in these Spartan quotes.
Molon Labe is a Greek catchphrase associated with the Spartans and has been used by several gun rights groups. It means “Come and take them,” and was the response by King Leonidas when the enemy demanded his soldiers lay down their weapons.
The Spartans have been the inspiration for several Hollywood movies, including the movie 300. Gerard Butler and Lena Headey star as King Leonidas and Queen Gorgo. Many of these Spartan quotes from the movie 300 are rooted in historically accurate quotes, while others make for great cinematic moments.
Don’t forget to also check out these warrior quotes on having an unbeatable mind.
Famous Spartan warrior quotes from King Leonidas
1. “Spartans! Prepare for glory!” — King Leonidas, 300
2. “You have many slaves, but few warriors. It won’t be long before they fear my spears more than your whips.” — King Leonidas, 300
3. “This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die! Remember this day, for it will be yours for all time.” — King Leonidas, 300
4. “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.” — King Leonidas, 300
5. “No retreat, no surrender; that is Spartan law. And by Spartan law, we will stand and fight, and die.” — King Leonidas, 300
6. “Give them nothing, but take from them everything.” — King Leonidas,300
7. “A new age has begun. An age of freedom, and all will know, that 300 Spartans gave their last breath to defend it!” — King Leonidas, 300
8. “In the end, a Spartan’s true strength is the warrior next to him. So give respect and honor to him, and it will be returned to you.” — King Leonidas, 300
9. “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.” — King Leonidas, 300
10. “Spartans, eat well, for tonight we dine in Hades.” — King Leonidas, 300
Spartan quotes and sayings from other characters in 300
11. “It is not a question of what a Spartan citizen should do, nor a husband, nor a king. Instead, ask yourself what should a free man do?” — Queen Gorgo, 300
12. “From the time he could stand, he was baptized in the fire of combat. Taught never to retreat, never to surrender, but death on the battlefield in service to Sparta was the greatest glory he could achieve in his life.” — Dilios, 300
13. “There’s no room for softness… not in Sparta. No place for weakness. Only the hard and strong may call themselves Spartans. Only the hard, only the strong.” — Dillios, 300
14. “Freedom isn’t free at all, that it comes with the highest of costs. The cost of blood.” — Queen Gorgo, 300
15. “Your lips can finish what your fingers have started… or has the Oracle robbed you of your desire as well?” — Queen Gorgo, 300
16. “It would be a regrettable waste. It would be nothing short of madness for you, brave king, and your valiant troops to perish. All because of a simple misunderstanding. There is much our cultures could share.” — Xerxes, 300
17. “Unlike the cruel Leonidas, who demanded that you stand, I require only that you kneel.” — Xerxes, 300
Spartan quotes and words about fighting and being warriors
18. “The Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy but where are they.” — Plutarch
19. “Feel no fear before the multitude of men, do not run in panic, but let each man bear his shield straight toward the fore-fighters, regarding his own life as hateful and holding the dark spirits of death as dear as the radiance of the sun.” — Spartan Proverb
20. “He who sweats more in training bleeds less in war.” — Spartan Creed
21. “The Spartans are the equal of any men when they fight as individuals; fighting together as a collective, they surpass all other men.” — Demaratus, Spartan King
22. “Then we shall fight in the shade.” — Spartan leader Dieneces, (upon being told that the Persian army had so many arrows that they could hide the sun)
23. “No retreat, no surrender; that is Spartan law. And by Spartan law, we will stand and fight, and die.” — Leonidas, Spartan King
24. “So that we may get close to the enemy.” — Agesilaus, Spartan King (on why Spartans fought with short swords)
25. “Rise up, warriors, take your stand at one another’s sides, our feet set wide and rooted like oaks in the ground… learn to love death’s ink-black shadow as much as you love the light of dawn. Here is courage, mankind’s finest possession, here is the noblest prize that a young man can endeavor to win.” — Tyrtaeus, Spartan Poet
Wise and Inspirational Spartan quotes for life’s battles
26. “You should reach the limits of virtue before you cross the border of death.” — Aristodemus, Spartan Warrior
27. “Either quit your thieving or quit breathing.” — Spartan Mother
28. “There is no use for bravery unless justice is present, and no need for bravery if all men are just.” — Agesilaus, Spartan King
29. “If you confer a benefit, never remember it; if you receive one, never forget it.” — Chilon of Sparta
30. “Come back with your shield, or upon it.” — Spartan Mother
31. “Begin with your own family.” — Unknown
32. “Freedom is what we reap from this way of life, my friend.” — Unknown
33. “That’s fine, for I shall show that it isn’t positions which lend men distinction, but men who enhance positions.” — Unknown
34. “Son, remember your courage with each step.” — Spartan Mother
Daring and strong Spartan quotes and phrases that are all about Spartan
35. “If numbers are what matters, all Greece cannot match a small part of that army; but if courage is what counts, this number is sufficient.” — Leonidas, King of Sparta
36. “Learn to love death’s ink-black shadow as much as you love the light of dawn.” — Tyrtaeus, Spartan Poet
37. “Then his brother can take his place.” — One Spartan Mother ( in response to the news that her son had died in war)
38. “It will be the size of a lion when I bore down on my enemies.” — A Spartan (when asked why he had drawn a fly on his shield, instead of something more terrifying.)
39. “The Gods will take care of the Kings Army.” — Demaratus, Spartan King
40. “The walls of Sparta were its young men, and its borders the points of their spears.” — Agesilaus, Spartan King
41. “The daughters of Sparta are never at home! They mingle with the young men in wrestling matches.” — Euripides
42. “Only Spartan women give birth to real men.” — Gorgo, Queen of Sparta
What did you learn from these Spartan quotes?
Hercules, starring Kevin Sorbo, is a TV show inspired by the Spartans, as was Xena, Warrior Princess. Many people think that the movie Gladiator is also about the Spartans, but it is not. There is a big difference between gladiators and Spartans. Gladiators were slaves who fought in the Roman Coliseum as a form of entertainment, while the Spartans were ancient Greek soldiers who fought in wars.
Since Sparta is still a town in Greece, there are still Spartans today (about 35,000 of them). It used to be a brutal civilization that was the cornerstone of power in Ancient Greece, but now it is more a wonderful place for historians to visit. There are several museums that tourists can explore, along with the Tomb of Leonidas. Now, its citizens are not soldiers with ancient weapons engaged in war, but rather an inspiration for the arts.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these Spartan quotes and sayings? Do you have a favorite film or book about Spartans? Use the comment section below to let us know!
June 21, 2021 7:00 AM EST