In 480BC, three hundred Spartan warriors made a heroic last stand at the 'Gates of Fire' - a narrow pass in Thermopylae. Outnumbered forty-to-one by the hordes of the Persian Empire, they were eventually slaughtered, but their heroic rearguard action helped to save Western civilization and has passed into the annals of military legend. Who were the Spartans and how did they earn their fearsome reputation as some of the mightiest warriors the world has ever known? In this critically acclaimed Channel 4 series, Bettany Hughes reveals one of the most extraordinary city states of ancient Greece and the secrets of its people. Having enslaved their neighbours and turned the day-to-day tasks of society over to them, the Spartans devoted their entire lives to producing the ultimate warriors. Theirs was a brutal, rigid society where less than perfect babies were routinely hurled to their deaths, and self-discipline and self-sacrifice were virtues valued over all. They dined on a frugal broth of boiled pig's blood and vinegar. Money was outlawed, male homosexuality made compulsory and music valued only because its rhythms could be used in battle. The Spartan way of life made them the most feared power in Greece, but it also invariably put them on a collision course with the might of Athens itself.