They were the finest fighters of the ancient world. Their bravery and skill helped preserve Western Civilization in the face of a massive invasion from the east. Concepts they developed, like the boot camp/military service and frontal assault, remain fixtures of military life and tactics to this day. Along with the Athenians with whom they fought a decades-long war they helped to shape, advance and preserve the glory that was Greece. Feature explores every aspect of Sparta's warrior culture, lifestyle, history and legacy. Author Steven Pressfield, (Gates of Fire) reflects on the significance of the Battle of Thermopylae, where a force led by 300 Spartan warriors stalled the advance of the Persian hordes (believed to be the largest army ever assembled) for nearly a week. Scholars like Barry S. Strauss of Cornell University and Yale's Donald Kagan explore the factors that drove the Peloponnesian city-state to strive for martial excellence. And ancient accounts explain how Sparta's warriors were trained and detail their prowess in battle.