Friday, September 30, 2005

Blog Number 18 - The hunchback Ephialtes in Frank Miller's '300'

The '300' series based on the battle of Thermopylae was received positively in comic book circles, especially by the legion of Frank Miller fans of whom there are quite a few. However, the series has endured some subtle criticism amongst the devotees of the movie 'The 300 Spartans' and scholars familiar with the works of Herodotus.

The depiction of the Frank Miller comic book character that has probably been the focal point of most of the criticism would have to be that of Ephialtes. It was not so much that Miller portrayed him as a hunchback, it was that he was a Spartan by birth, which had stirred the emotions of the Spartan cognoscenti. According to the historian, Herodotus, Ephialtes was from Malis not Sparta. Therefore, I believe that Miller wanted to show Ephialtes as the antithesis of the heroic Spartan warrior, in every which way possible.

For example, the Spartans hoplites lived and trained in their homeland and were grouped together since their induction as young boys into the military system. They had that 'esprit de corps', while Ephialtes, who because of his deformity was living in exile brought upon by his parents. In essence, he was a loner and outsider, since his parents had left Sparta so that he could live rather than perish on Mount Taygetus. Spartan soldiers were in excellent physical condition with a straight spine perfected by their military posture, while Ephialtes was a hunchback whose curvature of the spine was analogous to being the spineless cowering traitor that he would eventually become.

There are several other 'inaccuracies' in '300', however, Frank Miller & Lynn Varley have to be commended. There are many more people that have become familiar with the legendary battle of Thermopylae through their comics. If the movie based on '300' does eventually get released, there will be even more people that will know the story of the 300 Spartans and that is good!

Do you think the actor that portrays Ephialtes in '300' should be deformed like he was in the comic book, or not?


Anonymous said...

The leader of the Arcadians will be played by Andrew Pleavin, who worked alongside Gerard Butler previously in 'Attila the Hun'.

John Trikeriotis said...


Thank you for providing the news about the character Daxos.

This is a real coup!



Miyuki said...

I think Ephialtes will arouse everyone's sympathy at the end of the film.When I read that King Leonidas says' forever..'in Frank Miller's 300,I can't help feeling that I was Ephialtes and I was blinded by self-interest.

John Trikeriotis said...

G'day Miyuki~

Unfortunately, Ephialtes is the one character I will not feel any sympathy towards. He was a traitor and no matter how they portray him in '300', I will not be able to overlook the fact that he 'sold out' his fellow Greek countrymen.



Miyuki said...

Hi John,
I think Ephialtes would have been satisfied to hear that.

Ian Turner said...

I always took that comment ("may you live forever") as a curse rather than as praise, the idea being that he should live forever in shame at his betrayal.