|Author||Charles River Editors|
|Publisher||CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform|
|Publication Date||December 18, 2014|
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*Includes pictures *Includes ancient accounts of the battles *Describes how the Greeks and Persians fought on land and at sea, as well as the weapons they used *Includes a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents The Ancient Greeks have long been considered the forefathers of modern Western civilization, but the Golden Age of Athens and the spread of Greek influence across much of the known world only occurred due to one of the most crucial battles of antiquity: the Battle of Marathon. In 491 B.C., following a successful invasion of Thrace over the Hellespont, the Persian emperor Darius sent envoys to the main Greek city-states, including Sparta and Athens, demanding tokens of earth and water as symbols of submission, but Darius didn’t exactly get the reply he sought. According to Herodotus in his famous Histories, “Xerxes however had not sent to Athens or to Sparta heralds to demand the gift of earth, and for this reason, namely because at the former time when Dareios had sent for this very purpose, the one people threw the men who made the demand into the pit and the others into a well, and bade them take from thence earth and water and bear them to the king.” Thus, in 490 B.C., after the revolt in Ionia had been crushed, Darius sent his general Mardonius, at the head of a massive fleet and invading force, to destroy the meddlesome Greeks, starting with Athens. The Persian army, numbering anywhere between 30,000 and 300,000 men, landed on the plain at Marathon, a few dozen miles from Athens, where an Athenian army of 10,000 hoplite heavy infantry supported by 1,000 Plataeans prepared to contest their passage. The Athenians appealed to the Spartans for help, but the Spartans dithered; according to the Laws of Lycurgus, they were forbidden to march until the waxing moon was full. Accordingly, their army arrived too late. Thus, it fell upon the Athenians to shoulder the burden. With their army led by the great generals Miltiades and Themistocles, the Athenians charged the outnumbering Persians. Outmatched by the might of the heavy, bronze-armored Greek phalanx, the inferior Persian infantry was enveloped and destroyed, causing them to flee for their ships in panic. The Athenians had won a colossal victory against an overwhelming and seemingly invincible enemy. There are few battles in history in which the vanquished are better remembered and celebrated than the victors, and even fewer where a defeat is considered a victory. But that has become the enduring legacy of the Battle of Thermopylae, a battle as unique as it is famous. The story of the battle and the willing sacrifice of the Greek defenders to buy the rest of the retreating Greeks time is well known across the world and still resonates with audiences to this day. Last stands are the stuff of martial legends, and Thermopylae is the greatest of them all. Though there was another contingent of Greeks fighting alongside them, Thermopylae is remembered for the stand of the 300 Spartans, who, with no compulsion binding them, chose to fight and die in the remote mountain pass against insurmountable odds. Their story has been told in literature, art, film, and even in graphic novels. When the Spartans’ famous and sacrificial stand at the Battle of Thermopylae ended, the Athenian fleet was forced to fall back, and Xerxes’ massive Persian army marched unopposed into Greece before advancing on Athens. However, Themistocles managed to lure the Persian fleet into the straits of Salamis. There, on a warm day in September 480 BCE, hundreds of Greek and Persian ships faced each other in a narrow strait between the Attic peninsula of Greece and the island of Salamis. The battle that ensued would prove to be epic on a number of different levels, as it set a precedent for how later naval battles were fought in the ancient Mediterranean, turned the tide in the Greeks’ favor against the Persians in the Persian Wars.