The battle of marathon 490 b c
1 / 19

The Battle of Marathon 490 B.C. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Nav Sci 421. The Battle of Marathon 490 B.C. Capt T. B. Pochop Marine Officer Instructor. Learning Objectives. Understand the battle of Marathon as it pertains to the Levels of War (Policy, Strategy, Operational, and Tactical).

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.

Download Presentation

The Battle of Marathon 490 B.C.

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

Nav Sci 421

The Battle of Marathon490 B.C.

Capt T. B. Pochop

Marine Officer Instructor

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the battle of Marathon as it pertains to the Levels of War (Policy, Strategy, Operational, and Tactical).

  • Understand the 4 types of amphibious operations and how they relate to the battle of Marathon.

  • Comprehend the conduct of the amphibious operation by the Persians, particularly the choice to land at Marathon.

  • Relate the conduct and success/failure of the battle to the 9 Principles of War and key terms of MCDP-1 Warfighting .

General Significance

  • Classic examples of:

    • Land power vs. sea power.

    • Heavy infantry shock system vs. light cavalry missile power.

    • Policy, Strategy, Operational Levels of War.

    • 9 Principles of War.

    • 4 types of Amphibious Operations.

Ancient Map Orientation

Detailed Map Orientation


Greek Hoplite

Hoplon 32-40” diam.



Leaf blade ~2’

Persian Armament


Led by Miltiades & Callimachus

10,000 troops

Phalanx formations

Heavy Infantry

Shock Action/No firepower

No cavalry

Unbreakable front, vulnerable flanks.


Led by Darius

Datis - Army Cmdr

Artaphernes - Navy Cmdr

600 galleys

10-15,000 troops

Light force

Primarily cavalry

Missile power, no shock.


Why invade the Athenians?

  • Punish Athenians for supporting the Ionian revolt in 499 B.C.

  • Secure west flank of Aegean Sea for Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC).

  • To secure south flank for attack on Scythians.

  • To build the Persian Empire.


By land, supported logistically by the navy.

Persian strength - Army

Not limited on the number of troops

Long, difficult, time consuming route.

By sea, with an amphibious landing.

Direct route

Persia is not a naval power.

Size of invasion force limited by transport capacity.

How to get to the fight? Darius has 2 options:


Let’s Invade - Take 1

  • 492 B.C. - Darius attacks by land, supported logistically by the Navy.

    • Movement halted when the navy is destroyed in a storm off of Mt Athos.


Let’s Invade - Take 2

  • 490 B.C. - Darius decides to conduct an amphibious operation.

Sack Eretria first. (Amphib Raid)


Why land Marathon?

  • Why land at Marathon, far from Athens? Why not land at Athens?

    • Intel from Hippias.

    • Unopposed Landing site.

    • Draw the garrison army out of Athens.

    • Conduct an amphibious envelopment on an unprotected Athens.

    • Marathon supposedly has good terrain for cavalry.

Force the enemy to react to you.

Amphib Operations as a form of envelopment.

The influence of terrain and geography.


What happened?

Landing is rarely the key problem

  • Persians land unopposed at Marathon.

    • Stay on beach and bivouac.

    • Beach is not suitable for cavalry.

  • Athenians arrive from the inland route and observe Persians encamped on the beach.

    • Wait for Spartans to reinforce (~2 weeks),


    • Attack now, before Persian plans develop further.

Seize the Initiative

Conduct of the Battle

  • Athenians attack Persians on the beach.

    • They extend the phalanx, reinforce the flanks and thin their center.

    • They anchor the flanks along terrain obstacles.

    • Persians push through the weakened Greek center.

    • The strong Greek flanks destroy the lightly armed Persian flanks, and collapse on the Persian center (double envelopment).

    • Hand-to-hand combat = decisive victory for Athenians.

Maneuver – put the enemy at a disadvantage.


Conduct of the Battle

Persians – Frontal Attack

Athenians – Double Envelopment


What happened next?

  • Persian forces still attempted an amphibious envelopment on Athens.

  • Successful Athenians returned to the city via inland, direct route

  • Spartan reinforcements arrived

  • Political intrigue did not manifest in fall of Athens

  • End result: Persians unable to land and conduct decisive battle


  • Interesting attempt by Persians to use amphibious operations to draw the army out of Athens and then conduct and amphibious envelopment on Athens.

  • Darius had one land and one navy commander (Split Command).

  • Persian’s failure to move off the beach allowed the Athenians to seize the initiative, block exits, and choose the battlefield.

Conclusions (cont.)

  • Athenians tactical control of the battle and initiative negated the strengths of the Persian army.

    • KIA:192 Greeks to 6,400 Persians

  • Persians forced to conduct a difficult amphibious withdrawal.

  • Login