When the narrator describes the Persian confusion with the troops at the rear wishing to advance and those in the front line wishing to retreat, he uses lines from the poem “Horatius” by ‘Thomas Babington Macaulay’, written in the 19th century about a small Roman force that held a narrow bridge against a much more numerous enemy. From the poem: “Was none who would be foremost to lead such dire attack: But those behind cried ‘Forward!’, and those before cried ‘Back!'”
You bring the crowns and heads of conquered kings to my city steps. You insult my queen. You threaten my people with slavery and death! Oh, I’ve chosen my words carefully, Persian. Perhaps you should have done the same!
Paul Cartledge, Professor of Greek History at Cambridge University, advised the filmmakers on the pronunciation of Greek names, and said they “made good use” of his published work on Sparta. He praises the film for its portrayal of “the Spartans’ heroic code”, and of “the key role played by women in backing up, indeed reinforcing, the male martial code of heroic honour”, while expressing reservations about its “‘West’ (goodies) vs ‘East’ (baddies) polarization”.
Cartledge writes that he enjoyed the film, although he found Leonidas’ description of the Athenians as “boy lovers” ironic, since the Spartans themselves incorporated institutional pederasty into their educational system.