The Battle of Thermopylae

This is a true story. It happened long ago in Greece…

“We must fight,” the Spartan* chief told his small army of brave men. They were at a great disadvantage. There were only three hundred of them. The Persian military had hundreds of thousands of men.

They were going to lose unless they could secure a small entrance. The enemy couldn’t move through it easily. They intended to stop the enemy here. The chief and his men got ready for the battle.

Soon, long lines of the enemy’s army twisted around the hills. The chief met the enemy with laughter. He knew that his men’s weapons and skills were better. The Spartans trusted their leader and obeyed him.

First, the enemy soldiers shot arrows from their bows. The chief told his men to lift their shields*. The arrows stuck into the shields but did not hurt any of the men.

Then the enemy’s soldiers attacked the Spartans with long spears. The chief surprised them. His troops rolled logs down on the enemy.

They fought for three days. Though they hardly slept at all, the chief and his men remained steady.

But the enemy found a way to beat the Spartans. The chief and all of his men were killed. Even though they lost, the Battle of Thermopylae is one of the most famous battles in history.


An arrow is a thin, straight stick shot from a bow.
The arrow flew through the air and hit the target.

A battle is a fight between two armies during a war.
The battle lasted for many days.

A bow is a weapon made of curved wood and string that shoots arrows. 
He went hunting with a bow and arrow.

When people are brave, they are not afraid to face pain or danger.
The brave firefighter saved the girl from the burning building.

A chief is the leader of a group of people.
The chief led the people through the mountains.

A disadvantage is a situation where someone is likely to lose.
Mike had a disadvantage in the race since he hurt his knee.

An enemy is a country that is fighting another country during a war.
The enemy prepared to attack the kingdom.

An entrance is a place where someone can enter an area.
The gate was locked, so Bill had to find a different entrance.

If something hardly happens, it almost does not happen at all.
I hardly saw the concert since I had to leave early.

To intend to do something means to plan to do it.
I intend to finish college in three years.

Laughter is the sound produced by laughing about something funny. 
Susan’s joke made her classmates burst into laughter.

A log is a thick piece of wood that is cut from a tree.
The fire was too small, so we added another log to it.

The military is the armed forces of a country.
I joined the military after I finished high school.

To obey means to follow what a law or a person says you must do. 
My little sister did not obey my mother. Now she is in trouble.

To secure something means to get it after a lot of effort.
I was able to secure a good grade on my test after weeks of studying.

When someone or something is steady, they are under control.
The problem was hard but she remained steady and solved it.

To trust is to believe that someone is honest and will do what is right. 
I trust my friends; they don’t tell my secrets to other people.

To twist something is to wrap it around itself or another thing.
She twisted the spaghetti around her fork.

Unless means if not or except when.
Unless you clean your room, you cannot play with your friends.

A weapon is an object that can be used to hurt people.
Swords have been used as weapons for thousands of years.

Direct link to the Game

Reference: 4000 Essential English Words2
4000 EEW02U03

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