Becoming a Nightmare: When Your Name Lives On

You've all seen the movie. You all know the story. 

Three hundred Spartan warriors making their last stand against the dreaded Persian army at the Gates of Thermopylae, the narrow pass that would be their grave. King Leonidas' defiance against the Persian King Xerxes. Unimaginable bravery against impossible odds. 

(Leave off the fact that the whole thing was kind of silly because the rest of the Greek city-states weren't there on account of the Olympic Games).

The 300 knew they were going to die. But they knew that, if they could just hold off the Persians a little bit longer, they could buy their people enough time to amass a counterforce. 

Bravery. Skill. Belief in something bigger. And the superior position. 

But the Spartans were betrayed! A malcontent Spartan tipped the Persians off about a rear entrance through the pass. And so the Spartans died before they perhaps should have, though they did end up saving all of Greece, due to the machinations of one rogue Spartan. 


In the 2006 movie 300, adapted from the comic book of the same name, Ephialtes is depicted as a deformed hunchback who was unable to sufficiently be a part of the phalanx and, insulted by Leonidas' refusal to let him prove his bravery, sold his own people out to the enemy. 

In reality–and while the movie did get a lot right–this backstory to Ephialtes is innacurate. He might have just been a dick. 

But do you know what the word Ephialtes means in Greek?

Ephialtes means "nightmare."Wow. 

Imagine having that word, that idea, attached to your name for going on over 2,000 years now. 

And there's no real indication that the language will change anytime soon. So Ephialtes' actions that he likely thought would bring him glory and riches at the time not only doomed his own people, but have resulted in his very name becoming synonymous with horror. 

It's like instead of just alluding to Benedict Arnold when discussing American traitors, the word benedict replaced our word for traitor. 

(Which would be awesome, as I envision a joyous lifetime of people referring to each other as "benedict-heads.")

So what's the takeaway from this little history lesson?

Never betray your comrades. Well, yes. 

If you're going to betray your comrades, make damn sure you never get caught. I mean, that's arguably smart, but that's not what I'm getting at…

Be careful what you do, for it will be associated with your name for all of eternity. 

That's more like it. 

You only get one bite at the apple. One name, one reputation. Unless you're willing and able to travel far away, witness protection-style, everytime you do something dishonorable, you need to treat that name as something more valuable than gold. 

Because it is more valuable than gold. You can always buy more gold. You can never buy another name. 

Unless you go to court, I guess, or actually do enter witness-protection. But that would necessitate witnessing a mob hit, and that is something I, in good conscience, could never recommend. 

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