Molon Labe [What It Means, Origin, & Pronunciation]

You’ve seen the shield online with the “Molon Labe” tag under it.

You’ve seen the bumper stickers.  

You’ve seen the tattoos even.

What does this phrase that’s become a rallying cry for gun owners mean?  Why is it so important to 2nd amendment supporters today?

molon labe
Alternative American spellings: “Molon Labe”, “Moaon Aabe”, and “Come at me, Brah”

Let’s talk about it.

The History and Origins of Molon Labe

All the way back in 480 BC, when Persia was in the process of invading Greece and all of the Greek city-states, Sparta took the most exception to this and went to confront them.  For their part, Persia was happy to do battle because they had a dramatically larger force.

battle of Thermopylae map
Map courtesy of the Department of History, United States Military Academy

King Leonidas of Sparta chose a narrow pass at Thermopylae to defend with his smaller force to prevent the Persians from bringing the full weight of their superior numbers to bear, but the situation was still essentially hopeless.

Xerxes, king of Persia saw the math of the situation was on his side and called for the surrender of the Spartan forces, demanding that Leonidas and his forces lay down their arms.

Leonidas famously responded with two words: “Molon Labe”, or “Come and take them.”

Yeah, Leonidas is basically credited with the earliest known use of “Come at me, bro.” but what a way to face down certain death.

300 gif
You may remember this from the extremely accurate historical reenactment “300”.

Modern Usage of Molon Labe

Today, this sentiment has become a rallying cry for 2nd amendment supporters in America, and proponents of firearms ownership around the world.  It is a reminder to those who would take away the right to bear arms that doing so is an inherently tricky proposition…an armed populace makes for a more cautious government after all.

By the way, before you go around saying it in casual conversation – watch this; you’ll thank me later.

In modern times it has become a sign that those who own firearms for defensive purpose and for the protection of themselves and their loved ones aren’t willing to surrender those firearms and shows support of firearms ownership in general.


What’s it mean to you?

Any other gun related terms you’d like us to discuss?  Now…hold on for some Don’t Tread on Me action…

Gadsden Flag
This flag?

4 Leave a Reply

  • Richard Hyman

    Great read! Thanks for putting this together.

    8 months ago
  • PTMcCain

    If you spell it like this: “Moaon Aabe” you will the person who thinks they are getting authentic Japanese words tatted but they are totally fake. Never spell it that way, it is meaningless. The Greek is MOLON LABE (in English transliteration).

    8 months ago
    • Arron Johnson

      Hmm, then I guess the Greeks don't know or understand their own language because on the King Leonidas statue, in Sparta Greece is "Moaon Aabe" in ancient Greek text.

      2 months ago
      • Arron Johnson

        And, to add to that, "ΜOΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ" is on the emblem of the Greek First Army Corps.

        2 months ago
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