During the Persian Wars, being the leading force of the Greek alliance, Sparta with only 300 warriors led by the legendary King Leonidas, would fight against the thousands of Persian swords in the Straits of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The phrase "Molon Lave" meaning “Come and get them” given in response to the messengers of the Persian king Xerxes, when he demanded the surrender of the Greek weapons, remained immortal in world history, giving Leonidas eternal glory, as an example of bravery, as a guardian of patriotic principles, laws and duty. The following year, Athens and Sparta, as leaders of the Greek army, would defeat the Persians in the battle of Plataea and would end the Persian threat permantly. Unfortunately, after the Persian wars, the two cities would be involved in a devastating civil war, known as the 'Peloponnesian War', which began in 431 BC, with the invasion of Attica by the Spartans and their allies and ended in 404 BC with the victory of the Spartans and the defeat of the Athenians. After the end of the war, Sparta was now the strongest force in Greece (Spartan hegemony), however it had been weakened by the constant battles with the Athenians and as a result, it was not able to consolidate its dominance in Greece. The hegemony of Sparta ended with its defeat by the Thebans in 371 BC. in Lefktra of Viotia.