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The Persian Wars. 3.4 | East v. West. First, our narrator . Everything we know about the Persian Wars comes from the Greek historian Herodotus First person to write down history, for the sake of writing history Accuracy is another issue, as is bias. Ionia. The western coast of Asia Minor

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the persian wars

The Persian Wars

3.4 | East v. West

first our narrator
First, our narrator
  • Everything we know about the Persian Wars comes from the Greek historian Herodotus
    • First person to write down history, for the sake of writing history
    • Accuracy is another issue, as is bias
  • The western coast of Asia Minor
    • Heavily populated by Greeks from colonization
    • Close ties with the mainland
  • Slowly absorbed by the expanding Persian Empire in 546 B.C.
    • Prospered under Persian rule [independence of city-states]
  • The tyrant of Miletus, urged the Persians to invade Naxos [in the Aegean]
    • Failure
    • To avoid Persian punishment for the waste, he instigated an Ionian rebellion
    • Justified rebellion by claiming Greek independence 499 B.C.
athens gets involved
Athens gets involved
  • Ionia sends word across the Aegean [help]
    • Athens is wealthy, powerful, and sees a chance to expand political and economic power in Ionia
    • Responds by aiding the rebellion
  • In 498 B.C. Athens and its allies land in Ionia and burn the Persian regional capital of Sardis
    • They then withdraw
the persians respond
The Persians Respond
  • King Darius I (r. 521 – 486 B.C.)
    • Reimposes regional hegemony
    • By 494 B.C. Miletus was crushed and the rebellion ended
  • Athens still bothered him however
    • Every night at dinner, “Sire, remember the Athenians”
  • 490 B.C. Darius assembles an expedition to punish the Athenians
    • They would sail from the Middle East by sea
the battle of marathon 490 b c
26 miles from Athens

The Persian fleet begins unloading their army

An outnumbered Athenian army decisively defeated the Persians

Absolute shock [Persian reputation] – messenger sent to Athens

The Battle of Marathon 490 B.C.
  • Succeeded his father in 486 B.C.
    • Vowed revenge on the Greeks
  • Began preparing an invasion force
    • Would number some 180,000 men and thousands of naval vessels (Herodotus says 2.6 million)
    • It must go by land, too big to transport via sea
  • The Greeks understood they could not field an army to compete
    • Many Greek states would form a defensive alliance with Sparta
the athenians
The Athenians
  • Knowing that Xerxes was coming for them
    • Went to the Oracle of Delphi to consult the gods
      • “A wooden wall will survive the destruction of Attica”
  • Rather than joining with the Spartans, Athens began building their fleet
the war
The War
  • The Greeks, despite their differences, would be united by common goals
  • They would fight for a greater concept, or idea
  • That of Greek independence and freedom
  • To survive Persia, they would need to band together and fight as, Greeks
    • This was new
    • Typically they fought for Athens, or Sparta, or Corinth, et cetera
the battle of thermopylae 480 b c
7,000 Greeks and 300 Spartanswere sent to defend the Thermopylae pass

A choke point in Greece’s mountainous terrain to hold the Persians

The point was to hold the Persians long enough to mobilize all Greek armies

The Battle of Thermopylae 480 B.C.
xerxes burns athens 480 b c
After the victory at Thermopylae, Xerxes entered Athens and burned it

Revenge at last, but the Athenians were not there

The entire population had taken to the sea

Xerxes Burns Athens 480 B.C.
the battle of salamis 480 b c
The Athenians lured the Persian fleet into the strait of Salamis

Ambush and complete destruction of the Persian fleet

The 180,000 strong Persian army lost its supply chain

The bulk of the army was forced to return to Persian territory

The Battle of Salamis 480 B.C.
the persians retreat
A small Persian army is left behind [compared to the 180,000]

The Greek army organized by the Spartans could now defeat it

The Battle of Plataea 479 B.C.

The Persians Retreat
the aftermath of the persian wars
The Aftermath of the Persian Wars
  • Greek unity showed its power
    • The underdog defeated the Persian Empire
  • Persia would never again invade Greece
  • Greece would be divided on who gets credit for victory: Sparta or Athens