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Greco- Persian Wars. Causes ,Consequences , Results. The Persian War!. Hoplites. How Do We Know?. Remember, history is what is remembered and written down, along with the bias of the writer. Herodotus - primary source “Father of History” Ionian Greek

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Greco persian wars

Greco- Persian Wars

Causes ,Consequences , Results

The persian war

ThePersian War!

How do we know
How Do We Know?

  • Remember, history is what is remembered and written down, along with the bias of the writer.

  • Herodotus - primary source

  • “Father of History”

  • Ionian Greek

  • Eye-witness & interviewed Eye-witnesses

  • Wrote The Persian Wars

How do we know1
How Do We Know?

“These are the inquiries (the Greek word is ‘histories’) of Herodotus of Halikarnassos, which he sets down so that he can preserve the memory of what these men have done, and ensure that the wondrous achievements of the Greeks and barbarians (the Persians) do not lose their deserved fame, and also to record why we went to war with each other.” -Herodotus

Persian empire expands
Persian Empire Expands

  • And the Persians?

  • Conquered the Babylonians…

  • “Freed” the Jews and allowed them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple to Yahweh

  • Cyrus the Great ---> Jews called him the “Messiah” or God’s “anointed one”

  • Empire ---> largest to date under Darius, from Egypt, Asia Minor to India

  • Satraps & Satrapies

Persian empire expands1
Persian Empire Expands

Greece vs Persia

Your Text Here

Persian war the greeks vs the persians
Persian War - the Greeks vs. the Persians

People to know…


-Leonidas -Cyrus the Great

-Pericles -Darius*

-Themistocles -Xerxes*

Key Battles to Know … (there’s 4)

B. of Marathon

B. of Thermopylae

B. of Salamis

B. of Plataea

Greco persian wars











The persian war1
The Persian War

SO WHAT? Who cares?

What’s at stake?


Background to the conflict
Background to the Conflict

  • No Persian records.

  • After collapse of Mycenaean civilization , many Greeks fled to Ionia.

  • These Greek “colonies” were more or less united under Lydian rule.

  • On the eve of the Greco-Persian wars, Ionian population had become discontented and rebellious

  • …Meanwhile in Athens, Cleisthenic democracy insecure.

  • Fear of treason, tyranny, Spartans, and neighbors.

  • So Cleisthenes asks for alliance with Persia. Persians ask for “earth and water” in return.

Northern greece thrace macedonia
Northern Greece - Thrace & Macedonia

Greco persian wars





Cyrus ii and the foundation
Cyrus II and the Foundation

  • Between 550 and 530 BC Cyrus II, establishes a vast empire

  • First he incorporates Media and Persia, then the Assyrian Empire, and then many lands on the east of Iran

  • He establishes a rule based on local diversity, respects local religions and customs

  • His son and heir Cambyses II conquered Egypt.

Ionian revolt 499 493
Ionian Revolt, 499-493

  • Cyrus sent messages to the Ionians demanding revolt against Lydian rule.

  • Ionians refused.

  • Cyrus invades—Phocea 1st.

  • Ionian Greeks hard to rule.

  • So Persia establishes a tyrant in each Ionian city.

  • The tyranny declining in Greece.

  • Darius the Great more invasive than Cyrus.

  • Ionians captured, and burnt Sardis.

  • On their return home, they were followed by Persian troops, and crushed at the Battle of Ephesus

Ionian revolt 499 4931
Ionian Revolt, 499-493

  • Miletus rebels. Athens supports them with 20 ships.

  • Persians defeat them at Battle of Lade (494)

  • Besieged, captured, and enslaved Miletians. Why does Athens get involved?

    • They are Ionians

    • Persia has been unfriendly

    • Athens dependent on trade (especially , grain trade)

    • Glory…

  • Asia Minor returned to Persian control. But Darius vowed to punish Athens for supporting revolts

  • In 492, Darius sent ambassadors to major Greek cities, demanding their submission. Does not go to Athens or Sparta.

Darius i the housekeeper
Darius I (the housekeeper)

  • Darius was a pretender, who prevailed after a bloody succession war.

  • He expanded the empire to the East, and tried to incorporate Europe, including Greece

  • His European campaigns were mostly a failure

  • He organized the Empire, cut new coins (darics), and introduced new laws.

  • His generals were defeated by the Athenians at Marathon.

Overall first invasion of greece motivations
Overall :First Invasion of Greece: Motivations

  • Punish the rebels

  • Restore Hippeas (he would be a Persian satrap)

  • Conquer and tax Greece

  • Control Athenian trade

  • Glory

The battle of marathon 490 bc
The Battle of Marathon (490 BC)

  • The first Persian invasion primarily targeted Athens.

  • Spartan help was asked and promised but delayed, due to religious observance.

  • The Athenians alone defeated the invading force with the brilliant tactics of general Miltiades.

  • When the Spartans arrived, they inspected the monument, praised the Athenians and left.

First invasion of greece battle of marathon
First Invasion of Greece: Battle of Marathon

  • Persian fleet headed down coast of Attica, landing at bay of Marathon, 26 miles from Athens (Phydippedes runs to Athens to ask for help…3hrs. Then died.)

  • Sparta amidst a religious ceremony. Promised help later…

  • Herodotus records that 6,400 Persian bodies were counted on the battlefield; Athenians lost only 192 men. Spartans show up the next day!

  • Significance

    • Persians CAN be beaten

    • Victory for democracy and freedom

    • Pride and glory

    • No victory at Marathon, no Socrates, Sophocles, Eurpides…

    • The Marathonomachai saved Western Civ (?)

    • War accomplishes great things (?)





-Who is Victorious? Who has “NIKE”?

Rise of themistocles
Rise of Themistocles

  • General (strategos) of his tribe in 490 BCE; commanded center of Athenian army at Marathon

  • Elected archon in 493/92 BCE

  • Rival politicians ostracized: Miltiades, Hipparchus, Megacles the Alcmaeonid, Xanthippus (father of Pericles), Aristides

Rise of themistocles athenian navy debate
Rise of Themistocles: Athenian Navy Debate

  • Debate in Athenian Assembly

    • New wealth from Larium mines…

    • Aristides: strengthen hoplite army (zeugitai)

    • Themistocles: strengthen navy (thetes)

      • Build port of Piraeus

      • Overture to Thetes

    • Aristides ostracized in 482 BCE

    • New political importance of thetes as rowers…

Themistocles and athenian naval power
Themistocles and Athenian Naval Power

Before this, Themistocles’ judgment had proved the best at an important moment; it was when the commonality of Athens had received great sums that came to them from the mines at Laurium, and they were disposed to share them out, with each citizen getting ten drachmas apiece. It was then that Themistocles persuaded the Athenians to abandon this distribution and make instead, with this money, two hundred ships “for the war,” he said, naming the war against the Aeginetans. It was indeed their engagement in this war, just then, that saved Greece, for it compelled the Athenians to become men of the sea. These ships were not used for the purpose for which they were built, but they were there for Greece at the moment of need.

-Herodotus, 7.144

Rise of themistocles foresight
Rise of Themistocles: Foresight

Now the rest of his countrymen thought that the defeat of the barbarians at Marathon was the end of the war; but Themistocles thought it to be only the beginning of greater contests, and for these he anointed himself, as it were, to be the champion of all Greece, and put his polis into training, because, while it was yet far off, he expected the evil that was to come.

- Plutarch, Life of Themistocles, 3.4

Athenian trireme
Athenian Trireme

  • 120 ft. x 15 ft.

  • 170 rowers

  • Fast and agile

  • Ramming tactics


  • 486: Darius dies: Xerxes becomes king

  • 484: Egypt revolts

  • After the suppression of the revolt Xerxes prepares for a campaign against Greece.

  • 480: Xerxes personally leads an invasion of Greece

Second persian invasion 480 479 bce
Second Persian Invasion (480-479 BCE)

  • Xerxes constructs an armada– a “boat-bridge” spanning Hellespont

  • 481, Greek League (Hellenic League)

    • Defensive Alliance

    • 31 Greek states

    • Led by Sparta and Athens

The real xerxes
The real Xerxes

  • A sophisticated, fun-loving womanizer, better suited for the luxuries of the court than the battlefield.

  • Xerxes inherited the Greek campaign from his father.

  • During his reign, a new imperial capital was built, inteded to glorify Persian might

Battle of thermopylae 480
Battle of Thermopylae, 480

  • Xerxes's arrived during Olympic Games. For Spartans, warfare during Olympics was sacrilegious. But Spartans considered the threat so grave that they dispatched King Leonidas I with his personal bodyguards (The Hippeis) of 300 men + Allied forces.

  • Persian contingents forced to attack Greek phalanx head on

  • Pass at Thermopylae was opened to the Persian army according to Herodotus, at the cost to the Persians of up to 20,000 fatalities

  • Xerxes beheads and impales corpse of Leonidas!

The battle of thermopylae
The Battle of Thermopylae

  • 480: Although strategically it was a hopeless undertaking, the stand of king Leonidas and his personal guard at Thermopylae, encourages the fighting Greeks.

  • The Athenians, with an equal spirit of bravery, retreat and allow the city to be burnt to the ground.

  • This is the limit of Xerxes’ successes in Greece

Battle of thermopylae 4801
Battle of Thermopylae, 480

  • Following Thermopylae, the Persian army burned and sacked the Boeotian cities which had not submitted to the Persians

  • Arguably most famous battle in European ancient history. Greeks lauded for their performance in battle. Thermopylae as inspiration for the ages.

  • Military defeat; moral victory

  • Thermopylae was a Pyrrhic victory for Persians

Thermopylae august 480 bce
Thermopylae (August, 480 BCE)

Epilates _treason and betrayal

Battle at salamis september 480 bce
Battle at Salamis (September, 480 BCE)

  • Victory at Thermopylae = Boeotia fell to Xerxes; left Attica open to invasion

  • Athens evacuated, with the aid of Allied fleet, to Salamis. Athens fell to Persians

  • The Persians had now captured much of Greece. But needed to capture navy.

  • Destruction of some of Persian fleet in battle and storm at Artemisium

  • Peloponnesians fortify Isthmus of Corinth

  • “Eurybiades presented the proposition that anyone who pleased should declare where, among the territories of which the Greeks were masters, would be the most suitable place to fight their sea battle; for Attica was at this point given up for lost; it was about the rest that he inquired. The most of the opinions of those who spoke agreed that they should sail to the Isthmus and fight for the Peloponnesus; the reason they produced for this was that, if they were beaten in the sea fight and were at Salamis, they would be beleaguered in an island where no help could show up for their rescue; but if they fought off the Isthmus, they could put into a coastline that was their own.” (Herodotus, 8.49)

Battle of salamis 480
Battle of Salamis (480)

  • In the narrow waters of Salamis the Athenian-led Greek fleet destroys the Persian navy.

  • Xerxes, for fear of being cut off, leaves for Asia

  • His general Mardonius is left behind with much of the land army

Themistocles decree from troezen
“Themistocles Decree” from Troezen

Text of Third Century BCE

May be copy of original of 480 BCE

Discovered in 1959

Aftermath of salamis battle of plataea 479
Aftermath of Salamis: Battle of Plataea, 479

  • Persian army under Mardonius winters in Greece

  • Plataea on border between Attica and Boeotia

  • Spartan king, Pausanias, in high command

  • Spartans & Athenians cooperate

  • Greek army won a decisive victory, destroying much of the Persian army and ending the invasion of Greece

  • Perceived as Spartan victory

The battle of plataia 479 bc
The battle of Plataia (479 BC)

  • In the battlefield of Plataia the Spartan army, led by Pausanias, regent for the son of Leonidas, wiped out the Persian land forces.

  • Spartan victory was so swift and decisive that the more populous Athenian army did not even get the chance to get to the battlefield on time.

  • This ended Persian threat against Greece. In future, the Greeks would be the aggressors against Persia.

Legacy to greco persian wars
Legacy to Greco-Persian Wars

  • Greek nationalism

  • 1st great Pan-Hellenic Activity

  • Ionians renew rebellion against Persia.

    • Persians lose control of Asia Minor coast

    • Expeditions of Cimon against Persia (ca. 470-460)

  • Athenian Hegemony

    • Athenian naval supremacy

    • Cold War ensues b/w Athens and Sparta for 20 years

  • Athenian Wall

    • Themistocles as Hero: Stood up to Persians and to Spartans

    • Persians suffered a major blow to their prestige and morale

    • We know that Persian threat was over. They didn’t.

    • Philosophy, science, freedom, and democracy

Concluding discussion
Concluding Discussion

  • What were the causes of the Persian Wars?

    • How and why did Ionians revolt? What impacts did these revolts have?

  • Evaluate the significance of the Battles of:

    • Marathon

    • Thermopylae

    • Salamis/Plataea

  • Assess the role of Themistocles.

  • Discuss the legacy of the Persian Wars. Why does this war matter?

  • How did the Persian Wars shift the balance of power in Greece?