In 480 BC, Leonidas and his indomitable 300 Spartan warriors became the stuff of legend for holding back the entire Persian army – at the time the largest fighting force in the known world – for a week, saving Greece from an early capitulation.

Some 2,500 years later, emulators donned the attire of the heroes as depicted in the Hollywood movie 300, only to prove they could not live up to the originals' tenacity, as they were easily subdued and arrested by outnumbered Beijing policemen.

Photos of the bizarre confrontation on 22 July soon went viral online.

The would-be-Spartans were a group of young Westerners who descended into the streets of the Chinese capital wearing only leather underpants, sandal boots and capes as part of a publicity stunt for a Beijing-based restaurant.

The fleshy display didn't go down well with communist authorities in the city, with the public security bureau saying the procession had not been authorised and was disrupting public order.

As some Spartans declined to clear the area – as you would expect them to do – police intervened detaining a few of them briefly, local media reported.

The restaurant, Sweetie Salad, apologised for the stunt which it said was supposed to promote healthy living.