The battle of Marathon • The battle of Marathon is one of history's most famous military engagements. It is also one of the earliest recorded battles. Their victory over the Persian invaders gave the fledgling Greek city states confidence in their ability to defend themselves and belief in their continued existence. The battle is therefore considered a defining moment in the development of European culture.
The battle of Marathon (cont) • The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. It was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate Greece.
The battle of Marathon (cont) • The first Persian invasion was a response to Greek involvement in the Ionian Revolt, when Athens and Eretria had sent a force to support the cities of Ionia in their attempt to overthrow Persian rule. The Athenians and Eretrians had succeeded in capturing and burning Sardis, but were then forced to retreat with heavy losses.
The battle of Thermopylae • The date of the Battle of Thermopylae is in debate with two dates under contention. The dates in question are either August 7th or September 8th to the 10th of the year 480 BC. • The battle was between the defending Greek city-states led by Athenian General Themistocles, King Leonidas I of Sparta and Demophilus of Thespiae and the attacking Persian army of Xerxes I of Persia. The total number of forces on both sides are still debated but the Greek numbered between 5,200 to 11,200 and the Persian between 70,000 and 300,000 (historical numbers put the Persian army at around 2,000,000 men).
The battle of Thermopylae (cont) • The position of the Greek army at the narrow pass at Thermopylae was a tactical move, the idea that was the Greek army was a lot smaller but because the pass was tight the Persian army would not be able to overrun the Greeks. • Xerxes sent Medes and Cissians for the first day’s engagement and watched in horror as the Greek soldiers demolished those attacking them without losing many men. This caused Xerxes to use his Elite troops called the Immortals on the second assault of the first day; these soldiers were feared because they were seen as men that couldn’t die. This was not the case though as the Immortals also ended up suffering heavy losses.
The battle of Thermopylae (cont) • The second day ended up in the same vain as the first with Xerxes becoming furious as more men were sent to the slaughter, the day finished with Xerxes withdrawing his forces back to camp frustrated. Unfortunately for the Greeks the fortunes of Xerxes changed when a Greek called Ephialtes went to Xerxes hoping for reward by telling Xerxes about the Goat trail in the mountains. • On the third day Xerxes sent a force of men under the leadership of commander Hydarnes to go through the Goat trail where the Phocians were defending. The Phocians were surprised when they saw the Persians and took up weapons before moving back to a hill for defence as they expected a fierce battle. The Persians however did not attack; they sent a volley of arrows and continued on their way to cut off the Greek force led by Leonidas.
The battle of Salamis • After the Battle of Thermopylae, Athens was in despair. The Athenians knew that their city would surely be destroyed by the Persians. There was simply no place between the Persians and Athens where the Greeks dared to risk battle. Most of the Athenians fled to the island of Salamis where they watched their city burn and placed their trust in the fleet. • Xerxes was sure of victory. He had his throne placed on a hill overlooking the sea, in part to savor his victory and in part so his commanders would know that their king was watching them.
The battle of Salamis (cont) • Many of the captains of ships of Athen's allies were threatening to sail away to protect their own city states. They feared that the much larger Persian fleet would destroy them. Themistocles used a ruse to prevent them from fleeing. He sent a spy to the Persians telling them that they should come at once and block the pass so the Greeks could not escape. The Persians took the bait and sailed into the harbor. There was nothing to do now for the Greek navy but to fight! • The lighter Greek ships rowed out in a circular fashion and rammed the front of their ships into the Persian vessel . The narrow straight, the speed and maneuverability of the Greek ships and their knowledge of the waters enabled them to sink two hundred Persian ships.
The battle of Plateae • The Battle of Plataea was the final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place in 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia, and was fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. • n the summer of 479 BC the Greeks assembled a huge (by contemporary standards) army and marched out of the Peloponnesus. The Persians retreated to Boeotia and built a fortified camp near Plataea. The Greeks, however, refused to be drawn into the prime cavalry terrain around the Persian camp, resulting in a stalemate that lasted 11 days.
The battle of Plateae • While attempting a retreat after their supply lines were disrupted, the Greek battle line fragmented. Thinking the Greeks in full retreat, Mardonius ordered his forces to pursue them, but the Greeks halted and gave battle, routing the lightly armed Persian infantry and killing Mardonius. • A large portion of the Persian army was trapped in its camp and killed. The destruction of this army, and the remains of the Persian navy allegedly on the same day at the Battle of Mycale, decisively ended the invasion.