"Gates of Fire"
I'm re-reading Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire. It's a historical novel concerning the stand of the Spartans at Thermopylae. I'll just say that it does for their epic what The Killer Angels did for Gettysburg. It's best war novel I've ever read.
Hard to decide which part I like best. Maybe the point when the Persians send over an envoy, who offers the Spartans control of Greece and much else if they will come over to their side. The Spartans tell him no. He asks to be taken to their king, and they say the king would flog them for even proposing such a betrayal. An old man in the ranks says, yes, the king would flay them alive for it, adding that he's a crusty old fellow, with a bad temper, barely literate and by now probably drunk.
The envoy notices the old man is 20 years older than the other troops, and they're all looking to him, and realizes he has just had his interview with the king.
I only wish the novel had taken account of Hans Delbruck's theory of why the battle came about. His is that they weren't hoping to hold the pass forever -- every pass has a way around it -- but were literally on a suicide mission.
The Persians were making incredible offers to Sparta, knowing that if it defected the rest of Greece could easily be won. The rest of the city states were relucant to commit to the fight, knowing this; why commit to an alliance, knowing that it might be undone at any moment?
Thermopylae was seen by most Greeks as essentially the boundary of Greece proper. So the Spartan King, and 300 of its nobility, make a suicide stand, and die to deny the Persians the first inch of Greek soil. That pretty well sends the message that Sparta is in the war to the end.