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Part 1: Greece Part 2: Alexander the Great. Lesson 20. Part 1: Greece Theme: The Decline of the City-states. Lesson 20. ID & SIG. Delian League, Marathon, Peloponnesian War, Persian Wars, Thermopylae. Persian Wars.

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id sig
  • Delian League, Marathon, Peloponnesian War, Persian Wars, Thermopylae
persian wars
Persian Wars
  • Greek colonization brought the city states in conflict with the Persian Empire
  • Result was the Persian Wars (500-479 B.C.)
ionian rebellion
Ionian Rebellion
  • As Persian emperors Cyrus and Darius tightened their grip on Anatolia, the Greek cities on the Ionian coast became increasingly restless
  • In 500 B.C., they revolted and expelled the Achaemenid administrators
  • Athens sent a fleet in support of their fellow Greeks and commercial partners
  • In 493, Darius repressed the rebellion

Cyclades Islands

persian wars1
Persian Wars
  • To punish the Athenians and discourage future interference, Darius attacked Athens in 490
  • The Athenians repelled the invasion
    • Marathon
battle of marathon
Battle of Marathon
  • The Persians landed at the Plains of Marathon on September 9, 490
  • For eight days, the two armies faced each other
  • On the ninth day, the Persians started to advance, forcing Miltiades, the commander in chief of the Athenian army, to deploy his army of 10,000 Athenians and 1,000 Plataeans for battle
battle of marathon1
Battle of Marathon
  • The Athenians surrounded the Persians in a double envelopment
    • Although the Athenians were outnumbered, their spears were superior to the Persians’ bows and short lances
  • The Persians fled to their ships
  • Persians lost 6,400 men and seven ships
  • Athenians lost 192
battle of marathon2
Battle of Marathon
  • However, Miltiades realized that the Persian fleet could sail and attack the undefended city of Athens
  • According to legend, he called upon Phidippides to run to Athens to tell them of the victory and warn them of the approaching Persian ships
  • Phidippides ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens in about three hours, successfully warning the Athenians who repelled the Persian invasion
  • Phidippides was exhausted from the fight at Marathon and the 26 mile run and died upon announcing the warning


olympic marathons
Olympic Marathons
  • The marathon was part of the 1896 Olympics
    • The course was from Marathon to Athens (24.85 miles or 40 km)
  • At the London Olympics in 1908, the Olympic marathon course was set at 26 miles, 385 yards (42.195 km) to accommodate the Royal Family’s viewing
  • In 1921 the International Amateur Athletic Foundation made 42.195 km the official distance of a marathon
  • Darius’s successor Xerxes tried to avenge the Persian losses by launching another attack in 480
    • Thermopylae
  • The Greeks sent an allied army under the Spartan king Leonidas to Thermopylae, a narrow mountain pass in northeastern Greece 
  • The point was to stall the Persians long enough that the city states could prepare for later major battles after the Persians broke through

Persians attempting to force the pass at Thermopylae

  • Twice the Greeks repelled the Persians
  • Then Ephialtes, a local farmer,traitorously led a force of Persian infantry through a mountain passage and the next morning they appeared behind the Greek lines
  • Leonidas ordered the rest of the army to withdraw and held the passage with just 300 Spartans
  • As true Spartans, they chose death over retreat
    • Remember Lesson 17
  • All died but they did hold off the Persians long enough to ensure the safe withdrawal of the rest of the Greek army.


  • “Stranger, go tell the Spartans that we lie here in obedience to their laws.”
    • (Inscription carved on the tomb of Leonidas’s Three Hundred)

Leonidas at

Thermopylae by David

after thermopylae
After Thermopylae
  • The Persians captured and burned Athens but were defeated by the Athenian navy at Salamis
  • In 479 the Persians were defeated at Plataea and forced back to Anatolia
age of pericles
Age Of Pericles


He was a great general, orator, and statesman.

Under Pericles Athenian democracy reached it height. Strengthened and extended the Athenian empire, he established colonies in important and rebellious areas.

He used the navy to keep the Persians out of the Aegean Sea.


Pericles begins by dismissing his own speechmaking ability: "[I]t is hard to speak properly upon a subject where it is even difficult to convince your hearers that you are speaking the truth."

"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here."

Pericles then dwells on what we might call "Athenian exceptionalism": "Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves." A bit later, he adds, "In short, I would say that as a city we are the school of Hellas."

This brought to mind Lincoln\'s beginning, "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."


Most striking of all, both speeches conclude by challenging the living to live up to the standard set by the fallen. "So dies these men as became Athenians," says Pericles. "You, their survivors, must determine to have as unaltering a resolution in the field."

  • Lincoln expresses that thought better: "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
  • President Lincoln also looked to the Greeks for inspiration, his speech inspired a nation as well as Pericles for his Nation after the Peloponnesian War.
delian league
Delian League
  • After the Persian threat subsided, the Greek poleis had conflicts among themselves
  • The poleis formed an alliance called the Delian League
    • Athens supplied most of the military force and the other poleis provided financial support
    • Sparta did not join the league
    • In the absence of the Persian threat, eventually the other poleis came to resent financing Athens’s bureaucracy and construction projects
  • The resulting tensions led to the Peloponnesian War (431-404) in which the poleis divided up into two sides led by Athens and Sparta
the peloponnesian war 431 404 b c
The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.)
  • The war went back and forth until 404 when the Spartans and their allies forced Athens to surrender
  • Conflicts continued however and the world of the poleis steadily lost power
    • Alexander the Great is going to step into this power vacuum (next lesson)
failure of the nerve
“Failure of the Nerve”
  • Xenophon lamented that up to this point, “the City-state, the Polis, had concentrated upon itself all the loyalty and the aspiration of the Greek mind. It gave security to life. It gave meaning to religion.”
  • Then, however, “it was not now ruled by the best citizens. The best had turned away from politics.”
  • Intellectual and imaginative life of 4th Century Greece gave way to an atmosphere of defeat
    • Gilbert Murray explains it as “a failure of nerve”
id sig1
  • Alexander the Great, Darius, Gaugamela (Arbela), phalanx, Philip, siege, Tyre
philip ii
Philip II
  • Ruled Macedonia from 359-336 B.C. and transformed it into a powerful military machine
  • Moved into northern Greece and met little resistance due to residual effects of Peloponnesian War
    • By 338 he had Greece under his control
alexander the great
Alexander the Great
  • Philip intended to use Greece as a launching pad to invade Persia, but he was assassinated before he could begin his plan
  • Instead the invasion of Persia would be left for Philip’s son Alexander who was just 20 when Philip was assassinated
    • “Alexander inherited from his father the most perfectly organized, trained, and equipped army of ancient times.”
      • J.F.C. Fuller, The Generalship of Alexander the Great
conquests of alexander
Conquests of Alexander
  • Ionia and Anatolia 333
  • Syria, Palestine, Egypt 332
  • Mesopotamia 331
  • Persepolis 331
  • King of Persia 330
  • India 327
  • Returns to Susa 324
  • Dies (age 33) 323
warfare in the age of alexander
Warfare in the Age of Alexander
  • Phalanx: A formation of infantry carrying overlapping shields and long spears, developed by Philip II and used by Alexander the Great
warfare in the age of alexander1
Warfare in the Age of Alexander
  • Hoplite
    • The main melee warrior of the Macedonian army.
    • Worked mainly in the tight phalanx formation, creating impregnable lines that often left the enemy demoralized.
warfare in the age of alexander2
Warfare in the Age of Alexander
  • Companions
    • Alexander’s elite cavalry, the offensive arm of his army, and his elite guard.
    • They would be used in conjunction with the phalanx. The phalanx would fix the enemy in place and then the companion cavalry would attack on the flank.
    • Alexander would lead the charge with his cavalry, normally in a wedge formation.
    • These troops would also protect the flanks of the Macedonian line during battle.
warfare in the age of alexander3
Warfare in the Age of Alexander
  • Sieges involved the surrounding and blockading of a town or fortress by an army trying to capture it.
  • A variety of weapons were built to hurl projectiles over city walls, scale or batter the walls, and transport soldiers over them.
  • “… if Alexander deserves permanent commemoration as a general, then it is above all in his capacity as a besieger, and of all his sieges Tyre was his masterpiece.”
    • Paul Cartledge, Alexander the Great, 147
  • Old city on the mainland was abandoned
  • New city built on an island two miles long and separated from the coast by a half mile channel
    • Walls were 150 feet high
  • Had two harbors (Sidonian and Egyptian)
  • Alexander originally had no ships so he built a mole across the channel
  • Mole was designed to be 200 feet wide and was built by driving piles into the bottom and filling in the space with stones, earth, and wood
  • Entire trees --- branches, leaves, and all -– were thrown beside the piles to serve as a breakwall
  • Stone was hauled in from the old city
  • “A city and a forest were exhausted to build this wonderful mole.”
    • Theodore Dodge, Alexander, 330.

Alexander’s original mole has grown over the centuries and is now a broad landbridge with roads and buildings on it.

  • Tyrians attacked the mole with missiles, ships, and divers
  • Alexander was forced to build two towers on the end of the mole to fend off attacks
  • Tyrians launched a fire ship carrying cauldrons of sulfur, naphtha, and chemical oils to destroy the towers
  • Fire ship burned down the towers and cracked the end of the mole so that it later was washed away by waves
  • The work of months was lost in an hour, but Alexander began building another, better mole
  • Alexander collected a fleet of over 200 ships and maneuvered them into moorings off the Sidonian and Egyptian harbors
  • Blockaded the Tyrian fleet in its harbors and now was at liberty to use his siege engines to reduce the city’s walls

No. of ships Origin

80 Sidon, Aradus, and Byblus

10 Rhodes

3 Soli and Mallus

10 Lycia

1 Macedon

120 Cyprus

Composition of Alexander’s Fleet

  • Finally the engines penetrated the wall on the side toward Egypt
  • The fleet had captured the north and south fronts of the city
  • Ladders were thrown up against the walls and the Macedonians burst in

5th Century Greek Battering Ram

  • After a seven month siege, Tyre fell
  • 8,000 Tyrians were killed in the fighting
    • 2,000 more were hung afterwards
  • 400 Macedonians were killed in the siege and just 20 in the assault
gaugamela arbela
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • “Most agree that this was Alexander’s greatest set-piece battle.”
    • Paul Cartledge, Alexander the Great, 151.
gaugamela arbela1
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • At Issus, Alexander captured Darius’s family and was holding them hostage but treating them well
  • “Darius appeared to have lost the character for strength which he was thought at one time to possess. An excellent ruler in peace, he was his own worst enemy in war.”
    • Theodore Dodge, Alexander the Great, 360.

Seal of King Darius

gaugamela arbela2
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • Darius had assembled a huge army from all the Persian nationalities
    • Estimates range from 200,000 to a million infantry and 45,000 to 100,000 cavalry
    • 200 scythed chariots
    • 15 elephants
  • Alexander had about 40,000 men

Darius III, King of Persia

336-330 B.C.

gaugamela arbela3
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • Darius drew his army up on a large plain near Gaugamela
  • The ground was carefully leveled, obstacles removed, and brush cut down to allow free movement of his chariots and horses
  • Darius wanted to lure Alexander into a battlefield of his own choosing so Darius could employ his masses

Scythed chariot

gaugamela arbela4
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • Alexander advanced and camped within sight of Darius’s army on Sept 30, 331 B.C.
  • Darius feared a night attack and kept his men alert all night
  • When Alexander did attack the next day, Darius’s men were tired
  • In the opening moves, the Persians tried to outflank Alexander
    • Larger force had given them this capability
gaugamela arbela5
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • Alexander was able to counter with his reserve
    • Two flying columns behind each wing which could wheel outward to meet any outflanking foe, to guard the rear, or to reinforce the phalanx in the center
    • First such use of a reserve in history

Oblique order

gaugamela arbela6
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • Alexander attacked on the right to avoid Darius’s obstacles in the center
  • Darius countered with his chariots and cavalry, but Alexander checked them with his right flying column


gaugamela arbela7
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • Alexander then advanced against the Persian left center, exploiting a gap that had been created when Darius shifted to meet the earlier threat to his right
  • Alexander formed his men into a wedge and struck the gap
  • A column of Persian cavalry exploited a gap of Alexander’s own and attacked to Alexander’s rear, but Alexander defeated them with his left flying column




Wedge Formation

gaugamela arbela8
Gaugamela (Arbela)
  • Darius now feared for his own safety and fled the field
  • The entire Persian center and left also fled
  • The Persian army was dispersed
  • Alexander pursued for 70 miles to Arbela (modern day Arbil) but couldn’t catch Darius
  • The Persians lost 40,000 to 90,000
  • The Macedonians only 500
gaugamela arbela9
The military genius of Alexander

“The Persians still relied on multitudes. Alexander was introducing new tactics.”

Theodore Dodge, Alexander the Great, 385.

Flying column reserves

The wedge to penetrate an opening

Striking not merely with mass but at the right place and time

All around security

Discipline of troops

Ability to determine the enemy weakness and seize opportunity rapidly

Gaugamela (Arbela)
after gaugamela
After Gaugamela
  • Darius’s escape frustrated Alexander because it prevented him from full claim to being king of Persia
  • Eventually Darius’s followers assassinated him
  • As Alexander became king of Persia and continued to advance east, he took on an increasingly Eastern attitude
the end of the empire
The End of the Empire
  • Alexander
    • Married Roxanna and had his men also intermarry
    • Adopted Eastern dress and habits
    • Publicly insisted upon his descent from the gods
    • Began giving key positions to Persians
  • The Macedonians were tired of campaigning and resented the changes in Alexander’s behavior and become mutinous
  • Alexander died in June 323, perhaps as a result of poisoning

"The Marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxanna" by Ishmail Parbury

after alexander
After Alexander
  • After Alexander died, his generals jockeyed for power and by 275 they had divided up his kingdom into three large states
    • Antigonus took Greece and Macedon
    • Ptolemy took Egypt
    • Seleuces took the former Achaemenid empire
  • The period of Alexander and his successors is called the Hellenistic period to reflect the broad influence of Greek culture beyond Greece’s borders
  • Aztecs and Mongols