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At the end of the movie, when Leonidas knows he is going to die, he tells Dilios to go back and tell everybody what happened. He also takes some sort of braid or string out of the back of his hair and tells Dilios to give it to Queen Gorgo, which Dilios does. Queen Gorgo then puts it around her son's neck as a necklace. Does anyone who knows something about ancient Spartan culture to know what the significance of this item was? Also, why was Leonidas wearing it as a braid, while his son wears it as a necklace?

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I don't know if it is ancient culture or not, but that necklace was given to him by his wife right before his departure for the hot gates. I believe the reason he gives it back is as a way to tell his wife he is gone.

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I don't think that's it. She would have known he was gone (Leonidas actually has a grave) and it feels like it has some more significance to it. –  Andrew Latham Jan 9 '12 at 2:38
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@AndrewLatham Well he didn't give it to her for a literal proof he is dead, but an emotional, got it? –  Napoleon Wilson Jan 9 '12 at 11:55
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Exactly what I was going for. –  TylerShads Jan 10 '12 at 0:15
    
I see. I guess it was just an emotional thing, and not a Spartan ritual at all. Makes sense. –  Andrew Latham Jan 13 '12 at 2:28
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IIRC the neckalace his wife hands him is actually a claw or fang from the creature that Leonidas kills in the beginning of the film. I think he gave it to his wife to show his prowess as hunter/fighter. She in return gave it to him to remind him of this feat as an encouragement to return as a victor.

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My answer is that it represents the bond and relationship of somebody you have a deep respect, admiration, and affection for. A way to honor the blessings of somebody very special.

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I'm going to attribute it to the most powerful force in the universe -- Plot. It's a way to represent communication between Leonidas and Gorgo as well as a mechanism to 'pass the baton' to his son.

I shall further speculate that it was worn as a braid rather than a necklace so as not to interfere with visual of a ripped and oily Gerard Butler jumping and slashing all about.

While it would be awesome if it were some sort of manifestation of a Spartan ritual, the movie (even more so than the graphic novel) is so far afield from actual Spartan history, it's a surprise they still called them Spartans.

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