King Leonidas was the ruler of Sparta in the 5th century BC. While Athens was known as a center of democracy and civilization among the Greeks of the time, Sparta was known its harsh, militaristic culture. King Leonidas is famous for fighting the Persian army with 300 warriors and 7,000 volunteers from the other Greek states. Eventually, he lost the battle and was beheaded. The Spartans, however, were able to repel the Persian invasion afterwards. While it is not necessarily historically accurate, the most recognizable King Leonidas costume is how he was depicted in the movie, "300."
Items you will need
- 1-by-1 yard leather
- Leather adhesive
- 3-foot long leather strings (4)
- Leather sandals
- Men's briefs
- Leather belt
- Toy sword
- Red sheet or cape
- Large golden brooch
Measure one 3-by-1-foot wide rectangle on the leather and mark it with the pen. Measure another strip approximately 3 feet long, 6 inches wide, and mark its dimensions. These pieces will be wrapped around your waist to imitate King Leonidas' leather underwear as shown in "300," so adjust the dimensions to fit your body. Cut the pieces with the leather cutter.
Draw the shapes of the armor on the cardboard. King Leonidas is often pictured wearing forearm guards and shin guards. The forearm guards should be oval in shape, larger on the bottom than on the top. The top should be about 5 inches wide, but adjust this to your arm size. The guards should be big enough to cover your arm from the wrist to just below the elbow, wrapping part way around the forearm. The shin guards should be a rectangle as long as the length just above your ankle to just below your knee. The top center should have a square piece projecting approximately the size of your knee. Cut out the cardboard with the utility knife.
Place the armor cutouts over the leather. Use the cutter to cut the leather around the cardboard in matching shapes. The leather should be slightly wider to that it can be stretched over the cardboard.
Run a bead of glue around the edge of one of the pieces of leather. Place this over the inside of the cardboard that it is matched with. Wait for the glue, pull the leather tight and glue the other side. Repeat for all four pieces.
Put on your underwear briefs and the leather belt. Thread the belt into the scabbard of the toy sword before putting it on. Tuck the 3 foot long piece of leather into the front of the belt, pull it between your legs, up the backside and tuck the other end into the back of the belt. Wrap the six inch wide leather piece around your waist, tuck it under the piece that goes along the front and back and the belt. Make adjustments in the mirror; tighten the belt, tuck the leather into the underwear, tighten the pieces so that you can walk in it and it looks like the leather underwear worn by King Leonidas in "300."
Drape the red sheet over your shoulders, tie it in the center. To make the cape look more regal, attach the large brooch to over the knot. If you have a necklace with a large metal piece, you could also tie this around the knot so that it is displayed in front.
Put on the leather sandals.
King Leonidas is also featured with short black hair and a large black beard. If you are able to find a centurion-style helmet at a costume store, you can use this to supplement the costume.