The Persians are coming! Put yourself in the role of an Athenian general. The future of Greek civilisation depends upon the decisions that you will make. Click to begin
The Persians are coming! It is 390 BCE and you are the Athenian general Miltiades. The Persian emperor, Darius, has sent an army of 120,000 men, supported by 600 warships, to take Greece. Athens and Sparta are the only major Greek city states that have not surrendered to the Persians in advance of their arrival. The Persian army has landed at Marathon and is organising itself to advance on Athens. You are in command of 10,000 Athenian hoplites and it is your job to stop the Persians. What are you going to do? Run and hide Send the Athenian postman, Phidippides, to Sparta to ask them to join Athens in resisting the Persian invasion. • Back
The Persian army advances on Athens unopposed. Athens is destroyed. Everyone dies. Back
It takes only 48 hours for Phidippides to travel the 150 kilometres between Athens and Sparta on foot. When he gets there, the Spartans say that they will help, but not for a week because they are busy with a religious festival. You decide to wait for the Spartans to arrive You decide that you cannot afford to wait for the Spartans, so you prepare the Athenian army to face the Persians on their own. • Back
You decide to make a stand at the gates of Athens and hope that the Spartans will arrive in time to support the Athenian army. You decide to meet the Persians at Marathon, before they have time to organise themselves and advance in good order. • Back
You find a Persian army of 120,000 men organising on the plain of Marathon. Your force of 10,000 Athenian hoplites look on from the hills and study the enormous Persian army. The good news is that the small city state of Piataea has sent its entire army of 1,000 hoplites to support the Athenian force at Marathon. You learn that the Persians are planning to re-embark on their ships for an amphibiousAthens, which has been left undefended because you have moved the entire Athenian army to Marathon. You decide to watch and wait for the Persian force to be divided as they board their ships for the amphibious assault on Athens. You act immediately. You engage the Persian army on open field and rely on the superior training, motivation and equipment of your hoplites to win the day. • Back
The Athenian army is overwhelmed. The Persians advance on Athens unopposed. Athens is destroyed. Everyone dies. • Back
A group of your senior officers urge you to wait for the Spartans to arrive. You are persuaded by their argument and wait for the Spartans. You attack the Persian army immediately. You continue to watch and wait for the Persian army to begin to return to the ships. • Back
The Persians reboard their ships and land unopposed on the beach at Athens. Athens is destroyed. Everyone dies. • Back
You see your opportunity when the Persian force is focused on getting back to the beach and back on to the ships. You decide to take advantage of the terrain by engaging the Persians in a pass that is narrow enough to allow your force to form a solid phalanx. You distribute your force evenly across the line, so that it is the same strength everywhere. You decide to sacrifice the men in the centre, by putting the bulk of your forces on the left and right flanks. • Back
As the Athenian centre collapses, the Persians sense victory and advance. Do you: Send some of the men on the flanks to reinforce the centre. Maintain the disposition of your force.
The Persians sense victory as the Athenian centre collapses and order an advance, but it is a trap. You order the Athenian left and right flanks to change direction and attack the Persians on their flanks. The Persians are routed and flee for their lives into a nearby swamp, where parties of hoplites hunt them down and exterminate them.
Athens and Greek civilisation have been saved . . . at least for the moment. When the Spartans arrive they find the bodies of thousands of Persians rotting in the sun on the plain of Marathon. Only 192 Greeks were lost. The battle of Marathon echoes to this day.
After the Persians were defeated at Marathon, an Athenian hoplite named Pheidippi was dispatched to take the news of the Greek victory to Athens. Pheidippi ran the 42.915 kilometres from Marathon to Athens. He delivered the news to the elders of the city, then fell dead at their feet. The modern Olympic Games commemorates the run by Pheidippi through the event called the maraton, which is of the same distance covered by that Athenian hoplite. A bronze statue of Pheidippi (pictured above) stands beside the highway that connects Athens with Marathon.