Gates of Fire


Steven Pressfield

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Gates of Fire: Chapter 33 Summary & Analysis

The injured Spartans manage to make their escape from the Persian camp among men who haven’t yet been alerted to the emergency in Xerxes’ tent. In any case, the Persian draftees don’t seem to care a bit about whatever may be happening in their king’s tent.  Taking the Spartans for allies, they even offer bandages and other supplies for Alexandros. Alexandros is clearly in shock. He asks Dienekes in a childlike voice, “Am I dying?” “You’ll die when I say you can,” his mentor replies.
In the rain and chaos, most of the Persians don’t realize that an assassination attempt was just made on their king, and they even help the retreating raiders. Dienekes tenderly cares for his dying protégé.
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Even though the wound on his severed hand has been clamped, Alexandros is still spurting blood. He’s also been wounded in the lungs, but nobody realizes this at the time. Eventually, the group, most of them badly wounded, reach the deer shelter once again, where the messenger they’d sent back to Leonidas reports that the Immortals haven’t yet arrived, but that the allies are being dismissed. Dienekes yells at everyone to be quiet and listens carefully for Alexandros’s breathing. Then he gives a cry of grief such as Xeo has never heard before and embraces the young man’s limp body, sobbing. Neither Xeo nor anyone else has ever seen Dienekes lose his self-composure in such a way. At last he sets down Alexandros’s body and tells him, “You forgot about our hunt, Alexandros…We would have had such a grand hunt here next fall.” Morning is beginning to break.
Alexandros has died fearlessly in one of the bravest actions of the battle, dispelling any doubts about his courage once for all. Dienekes, normally so composed, is stricken by Alexandros’s death.
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon