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Ancient Languages/Accuracy of Ancient Greek translation


Hi Maria!

I am trying to design a leather-bound cover for a project for school.

I would like the design to include an accurate Ancient Greek translation of King Lionidas' famous quote "Molon Labe".

I have seen so many variations of this phrase written in Greek, but I was hoping you could tell me how to write it accurately for the time period. Specifically, are there or are there not accent marks on some of the letters?

Thank you so much!


Mολὼν λαβέ , transliterated as “Molṑn  labé”, is the ancient Greek response of the Spartan king Leonidas to king Xerxes I of Persia when asked to lay down his arms and surrender, at the beginning of the Battle of Thermopylae  in 480 BC, as we read in Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica (Sayings of the Spartans ), 51.11.

The literal translation of  Mολὼν λαβέ , that is  “Molṑn  labé”,  would be:”Having come, take [them]”, i.e. “Come and take them”, as this makes a better sounding sentence in English.

As you can see, there are accent marks either in ancient Greek letters or in Latin alphabet transliteration where the last syllable of “Molṑn“ has a long O with a grave accent,  and the last syllable of “labé” has a short E with an acute accent.

To conclude, I think that you could use the original ancient Greek quotation Mολὼν λαβέ together with its transliteration “Molṑn  labé”.

Read more below.

Best regards,

Note that:

Mολὼν / Molṑn  (aorist active participle , masculine, nominative, singular of the irregular Greek verb βλώσκω transliterated as  blōskō, “I come") = literally, “"having come” and then “Come” as an imperative.

λαβέ / labé ( aorist active imperative , second person singular, of the verb λαμβάνω / lambanō, I take)= take them, i.e. the arms (understood in Greek).

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I am an expert in Latin & Ancient Greek Language and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.


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