The Meaning and History of Molon Labe

The Meaning and History of Molon Labe

spartan, Greek sculpture, 300 Source: gancheva (Pixabay)
Source: gancheva (Pixabay)

(Reprinted from “Bearing”, Mar 23, 2019, Author: Tom Knighton)

If there’s one phrase that’s ubiquitous throughout the firearm community, it may well be the words “Molon Labe.”

The phrase adorns stickers, rifles, and more than a few tattoos among the pro-gun crowd. However, it also seems that a number of people aren’t really familiar with the history of the phrase nor what it represents.

To get to the origins, we have to go a little ways back in history. In particular, back to 480 BC.

The origin of the phrase is intricately tied to the Battle of Thermopylae. There, the Persian king Xerxes wanted to invade Greece. Standing in his way was King Leonidas and 300 Spartans (and a number of Thespians and Thebans, though history often forgets them). Xerxes offered the Greeks their freedom and survival from the onslaught of his army which reportedly numbered in the millions.

When Xerxes ambassador told Leonidas this, the Spartan king is claimed to have answered, “Molon labe.”

The phrase means, “come and take them.”

When all was said and done, Leonidas was dead, as were his 300 Spartans, but tens of thousands of Xerxes troops were also slain. It was said to have been so bad that the Persians started to lose all taste for war[…]

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