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Sparta and the Persian Wars. The Rise of Sparta. Ever since Messenian Wars Sparta followed an aggressive policy of expansion, partly through war and partly through diplomacy.

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the rise of sparta
The Rise of Sparta
  • Ever since Messenian Wars Sparta followed an aggressive policy of expansion, partly through war and partly through diplomacy.
  • By the beginning of the 5th century Sparta owned the whole of southern Peloponnese, and dominated the rest as the leading power.
  • The armies of Sparta already had a reputation of invincibility
  • Successful reforms in the 7th century had spared Sparta of the worst social/economic/political problems that other Greek cities faced in the 7th and 6th c.
  • While the rest of the Greek world was facing tyranny, poverty and upheaval, Sparta was enjoying prosperity, stability, and political/military success.
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.
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.
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.
  • 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
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
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 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
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.