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Black Moaan Aabe slide cover plate. What is this? Read on:
The Greek phrase Molon labe! approximate Classical Greek pronunciation [moleen labé], Modern Greek [mo'lon la've]), meaning "Come and take them!", is a classical expression of defiance reported by Plutarch in response to the Persian Army's demand that the Spartans surrender their weapons. It corresponds roughly to the modern equivalent English phrase "over my dead body", "bring it on" or, most closely, "come and get it". It is an exemplary use of a laconic phrase.
Mololn labe! was reportedly the defiant response of King Leonidas I of Sparta to Xerxes I of Persia at the onset of the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC). Xerxes, whose forces vastly outnumbered the Spartans and their allies, offered to spare the lives of Leonidas and his few thousand warriors if they would only surrender and lay down their weapons.
Instead, the Spartans held Thermopylae for three days and, although they were ultimately annihilated, they inflicted serious damage upon the Persian army, and most importantly delayed its progress to Athens, providing sufficient time for the city's evacuation to Salamis Island. Though a clear defeat, Thermopylae served as a moral victory and inspired the troops at the Battle of Salamis and the Battle of Plataea.
The source for this quotation is Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica, 225c.11. This work may or may not be by Plutarch (ca. 46 - 127) himself, but it is included among the Moralia, a collection of works attributed to him but outside the collection of his most famous works, the Parallel Lives.
Molon labe has been repeated by many later generals and politicians in order to express an army's or nation's determination to not surrender. The motto Molon labe! is on the emblem of the Greek First Army Corps, and is also the motto of United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT). The expression "Come and take it" was a slogan in the Texas Revolution.
In the Anglosphere, both the original Greek phrase and its English translation are often heard from pro-gun activists as a defense of the right to keep and bear arms. It began to appear on pro-RKBA web sites in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the wake of firearm seizures during Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent defiance of Federal court orders by the New Orleans government to return seized weapons, the phrase has again gained popularity among Second Amendment supporters.
Molon labe has been recently used in the 2007 feature film 300 in which Leonidas speaks this famous line in English in response to "Spartans! Lay down your weapons!" as "Persians! Come and get them!" In the 1999 comic book of the same name, upon which the film is based, the phrase becomes "Come and get it", with no exchange concerning the laying down of arms. In the earlier 1962 film The 300 Spartans Leonidas says the phrase both in Greek and English to the Persian general Hydarnes. The same exchange contains Dienekes' remark about "fighting in the shade" (as Persian arrows would "blot out the sun"), assigned to Leonidas.