Equally as important in the annals of our beloved Greece's modern history is OXI Day (phonetic, aw-hee), which is observed on October 28th of every year. This holiday is celebrated in commemorating General Ioannis Metaxas' defiant reply of 'oxi', to Benito Mussolini's ultimatum to allow Italian troops into Greece. This one word response precipitated Greece's formal entry into World War II and which culminated in the Hellenic forces repelling the invading Italian army all the way back into Albania.
Coincidentally, it is another laconic phrase in the Warner Bros. movie based on Frank Miller's '300' which will echo throughout cinemas around the world starting this week. The words Molon Labe (phonetic, Maw-lon Lah-veh), which spoken by King Leonidas of Sparta in 480 B.C., have resonated throughout history over the last 2,500 years. The translation which means 'Come and get them' will be spoken by Gerard Butler who portrays the legendary Spartan king who spearheaded the defense of Thermopylae.
According to Herodotus and other historians, the Greek garrison which consisted of approximately 7,000 hoplites, 300 of whom were King Leonidas' fellow Spartiates, held off the numerically superior Persian army for several days. Several scholars, researchers and contemporary historians have conservatively estimated the invading force of Xerxes I at 200,000 warriors, comprised from a multitude of nations from the east.
For two days, the 300 Spartans and their allies inflicted heavy losses on the invaders before their position was compromised by a Malian traitor. On the third day, rather than surrender, the remaining Spartans and the remnants of the Thespian contingent which originally numbered 700, fought to the death so that their countrymen could withdraw safely. It was their heroic self-sacrifice which inspired their Greek countrymen to subsequent victories at Salamis, Plataea and Mykale.
Therefore, this movie pays homage to not only King Leonidas and the heroic '300' and their fight for freedom, it also pays tribute to Greece, the birthplace of democratic principles.