Molon labe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Originally Posted by skullcrusher
It was used as a battle cry during a Grecian war. It means, "From my cold dead hands." Basically, the battle cry of the NRA.
I don't see "cold dead hands" anywhere in here . . .
Molon labe refers to an ancient Greek expression for "Come and take them!", in reference to unilateral disarmament. Molôn Labé! was the reply of Sparta's King Leonidas to the Persian demand for surrender at the Battle of Thermopylae. The phrase is becoming a modern-day Second Amendment cry of resolve never to disarm in the face of tyranny.
The Greek phrase Molōn labe! (Μολὼν λάβε; approximate Classical Greek pronunciation [molɔ̀ːn labé], Modern Greek [moˈlon laˈve]), meaning "Come and take them!", is a classical expression of defiance reported by Plutarch in response to the Persian Army's demand that the Spartans surrender their weapons. It corresponds roughly to the modern equivalent English phrase "over my dead body", "bring it on" or, most closely, "come and get it". It is an exemplary use of a laconic phrase.
The first word, μολών, is the aorist active participle (masculine, nominative, singular) of the Greek verb βλώσκω "blōskō," meaning "having come." Λάβε is the aorist active imperative (second person singular) of the verb λαμβάνω "lambanō," translated "take [them]."
The two words function together in a grammatical structure not present in English called the circumstantial participle. Where English would put two main verbs in two independent clauses joined by a conjunction: "come and take", a strategy sometimes called paratactic, ancient Greek, which is far richer in participles, subordinates one to the other, a strategy called hypotactic: "having come, take." The first action is turned into an adjective. In this structure, the participle gives some circumstance attendant on the main verb: the coming.
In regard to aspect, the aorist participle is used to signify completed action, called the perfective aspect. Moreover, the action must be completed before the time of the main verb. The difference in meaning is subtle but significant: the English speaker is inviting his enemy to begin a process with two distinct acts or parts—coming and taking; the Greek speaker is telling his enemy that only after the act of coming is completed will he be able to take. In addition there is a subtle implication: in English "come and take it" implies that the enemy might not win the struggle—the outcome is uncertain; in Greek, the implication is that the outcome is certain—"after you have come here and defeated me, then it will be yours to take." For comparison, these elements happen to be present in the previously-noted English phrase, "over my dead body", or the similar phrase "I'll give up my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."
Μολὼν λάβε was reportedly the defiant response of King Leonidas I of Sparta to Xerxes I of Persia at the onset of the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC). Xerxes, whose forces vastly outnumbered the Spartans and their allies, offered to spare the lives of Leonidas and his few thousand warriors if they would only surrender and lay down their weapons.
Instead, the Spartans held Thermopylae for three days and, although they were ultimately annihilated, they inflicted serious damage upon the Persian army, and most importantly delayed its progress to Athens, providing sufficient time for the city's evacuation to Salamis Island. Though a clear defeat, Thermopylae served as a moral victory and inspired the troops at the Battle of Salamis and the Battle of Plataea.
The source for this quotation is Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica, 225c.11. This work may or may not be by Plutarch (ca. 46 - 127) himself, but it is included among the Moralia, a collection of works attributed to him but outside the collection of his most famous works, the Parallel Lives.
 Modern usage
Molon labe has been repeated by many later generals and politicians in order to express an army's or nation's determination to not surrender. The motto ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ is on the emblem of the Greek First Army Corps, and is also the motto of United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT).
In the Anglosphere, both the original Greek phrase and its English translation are often heard from pro-gun activists as a defence of the right to keep and bear arms. It began to appear on pro-RKBA web sites in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the wake of firearm seizures during Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent defiance of Federal court orders by the New Orleans government to return seized weapons, the phrase has again gained popularity among Second Amendment supporters.