Who said it?: King Leonidas
The story behind the quote: 300 is a stylized retelling of Battle of Thermopylae. Based on the comic book of Frank Miller called, well, 300, the story revolves around how 300 Spartans from, well, Sparta, took a stand against an huge invading army from Persia. While the odds were definitely against them, since the Spartans were trained to fight since birth, they were very successful in killing off a huge swath of Persian soldiers. While they did lose in the end, their story (or the story that was told to the rest of Greece anyway) inspired the country to stand up against the invaders.
The quote comes from a scene where the 300 Spartans come across a huge number of Arcadians who are willing to fight off the Persians. The Arcadians are initially dismayed as there are only 300 Spartans; that number is just too small when compared to the invader’s army. King Leonidas, played by Gerard Butler, asks several of the Arcadians what their jobs were. They replied that they were simple workers, such as potters and sculptures. King Leonidas then turns to his fellow Spartans and asks them what is their profession. The Spartans all howl in several fearsome bellows in reply. The King of Sparta then states that he actually has more soldiers than the Arcadians assembled there.
Geek wisdom: We have to select the right tool for the right job. Like the Arcadians in the scene, a substitute can do in a pinch. However, if you want the job to be done and done right, the right equipment will beat out the substitute anytime.
The Spartans were bred to be warriors and that’s what they’re good at. They were the right tool to use for fighting and holding off an invading army of thousands, even if they were only 300. Accepting substitutes is okay, but nothing beats the real thing.