Soon Xerxes arrived with his vast army. He was told that Leonidas and the Spartans were holding the Pass so that the Persians might not get through.
"He will not stay there long!" said Xerxes with a laugh. "All we need do is to camp outside the Pass and when Leonidas sees our tremendous numbers he will run away!"
But the Spartans took no notice of the great camp outside the Pass and Xerxes grew impatient. He sent scouts to see what the enemy were doing, and when they came back and told him what they had seen he was amazed.
"These Spartans are combing out their long hair and wrestling with each other," reported the scouts. "Their arms are stacked against the wall, and they took no notice of us, though we rode as near as we dared."
"These men are mad," said Xerxes.
"Nay, they are not," said one who knew the Spartans and their customs. "These Spartans always comb their hair and deck it when they are going into battle to fight to the death. Oh, Xerxes, if you can defeat these men you will easily conquer the whole of Greece! "
Xerxes sent an angry message to Leonidas, bidding him surrender and give up his arms. Leonidas sent back a short fierce message- "Come and take them."