Dienekes

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Dienekes
Native name Διηνέκης
Born Sparta
Died 480 BC
Thermopylae
Allegiance Sparta
Rank Commander
Battles/wars Battle of Thermopylae

Dienekes or Dieneces (Greek: Διηνέκης, from διηνεκής, Doric Greek|διανεκής}} "continuous, unbroken"[1]) was a Spartan soldier who fought and died at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. He was acclaimed the bravest of all the Greeks who fought in that battle. Herodotus (7.226) 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."[2]

Herodotus also mentions that Dienekes said many other similar things which made him unforgotten. [3]

Plutarch in his "Sayings of the Spartans" 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?"[4] The "Laconic saying" of "then we will fight in the shade" was cited by Latin writers such as Cicero (in umbra igitur pugnabimus, Tusculan Disputations I.42) and Valerius Maximus (in umbra enim proeliabimur, III.7, ext. 8).

The street east of the Tomb of Leonidas in the modern town of Sparta is named for Dienekes (οδός Διηνεκούς, connecting Θερμοπυλών and Ηρακλειδών).

Dienekes is one of the main characters in Steven Pressfield's novel Gates of Fire (1998).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones, A Greek-English Lexicon (1940), s.v. διηνεκής.
  2. ^ Herodotus Book 7: Polymnia, 226 (trans. Macaulay 1890).
  3. ^ Herodotus Book 7: Polymnia, 227 "This and other sayings of this kind they report that Dienekes the Lacedemonian left as memorials of himself"
  4. ^ Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica, section "Leonidas, son of Anaxandridas", saying 6, Vol. III of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1931