Persian King Essay

It was the Athenians who – after the Gods – drove back the Iranian King. Discuss the truth of this statement.
This inquiry is potentially really wide so as it does non stipulate which of the two Iranian invasions of Greece it refers to ; with this in head and for the interest of completeness I will try to discourse its legitimacy with mention to both Persian Wars.

Marathon – 490.

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Darius, the Persian male monarch, had really likely made an effort to occupy Greece in 492, two old ages before Marathon, by directing Mardonius on the land path through Thrace towards cardinal Greece. This expedition had finally failed because of the devastation of its back uping fleet in a storm ensuing in what seems to hold been a instead hurriedly prepared naval expedition in 490. Iranian Numberss are, of class, much debated and frequently overdone, Herodotus tells us of 600 Iranian ships, Hammond speculated 25,000 work forces at most. The run began with the Persians capturing Eretria, puting Athinais in utmost hazard. The Athenians, fearing the strength of the Iranian forces sent a smuggler to Sparta, and a figure of other Alliess, inquiring for military assistance. The Lacedeminians, who seem to hold been a genuinely faiths people, replied that they would come to Athens assistance but that assorted portends forbade them from processing that month, holding to wait until the following full Moon had passed.

Once the Iranian fleet had landed at Marathon, the Athenians were presented with a job, March out and face the enemy and hazard fring the so assailable metropolis to a naval assault or delay to be besieged on two foreparts. Given that Athens defense mechanisms were weak at this clip, the pick was to process to Marathon. The Athenian full muster was around 9000, although this included an unknown figure of Plataean Alliess who had honoured their recent confederation with Athens and answered the Athenian call for aid. The Athenain commanding officer was Callimachus, although he was intelligent and honest plenty to recognize that Miltiades was the greater strategian and therefore basically ceded control of the expedition to him.

Once both sides arrived at Marathon there was something of a draw enduring several yearss, neither side wanting to prosecute the enemy. The Persians were giving themselves, and the last leftover Pisistratid, as much clip as possible to win Alliess in Athens and Attica, whilst the Athenians were waiting for the Spartans. The Persians were the first to move, coercing a conflict. This was no uncertainty because they feared that the Spartans’ reaching was at hand and they had much greater opportunity of success against merely the Athenians and Plataeans.

Thermopylae and Artemisium – 480.

After a 10 twelvemonth interlude following the Iranian licking at Marathon, Xerxes invaded Greece one time once more, this clip with immensely greater forces than those of Darius. The Greeks ab initio decided upon a northern scheme, taking to support the critical base on balls of Thermopylae after ab initio sing and rejecting the Vale of Tempe farther to the North. The finally unsuccessful defense mechanism of Thermopylae was conducted by a little figure of Spartans supported by greater Numberss of Thespians, Phocians and contingents from smaller provinces. It is of import to observe that the Athenians were non involved. Although the Greeks were defeated at Thermopylae, their detaining action gave the Greeks cherished clip to fix and, more significantly, it made the naval conflict of Artemisium possible.

At Artemisium the Persian naval forces numbered, harmonizing to Herodotus, around 1200 ships, well more than the Athenian fleet that opposed them. The Iranian ships were larger and likely faster but the greater legerity of the Athenian ships was critical in the narrow Waterss off Artemisium. There was besides another critical advantage for the Athenians, their ships was of a instead more stalwart design, built for ramming, whereas the Iranian ships were basically used for get oning oppositions. The considerable loss of Iranian hips at Artemisium played a decisive function in the result of the war ; cut downing the Iranian fleet ensured that Xerxes would non be able to split his fleet and raid the Peloponnesian seashore or to deviate the attending of the Greeks off from their existent marks.

Salamis – 480.

Before the conflict their seems to hold been considerable argument as to what to make with the fleet, the Athenians favoured maintaining it at Salamis, whereas the Peloponnesians wanted it moved closer to the land forces supporting the Isthmus of Corinth. The Athenians won the argument nevertheless, that the conflict of Salamis ensued. The Grecian fleet at this clip numbered around 380 triremes, most of which were Athenian but non all, a important Corinthian contingent was besides present. The Iranian naval forces was about three times as strong, but was once more contending in narrows instead than the unfastened sea where their greater Numberss and velocity would likely hold proved decisive. Superior Grecian tactics once more won a great triumph and the Persian fleet was defeated, but the land ground forces was non.

Plataea. – 479.

This conflict is one that is frequently overlooked by bookmans but we should retrieve that the conflicts of 480 had been, by and large talking, positive for the Greeks, but far from decisive ; Xerxes was in control of all of Greece up to the Isthmus of Corinth. Xerxes had returned to Persia after the licking at Salamis, but Mardonius was left n bid of a strong Iranian force. The Grecian force that was winning at Plataea contained contingents from all over the Grecian universe, surely more than from Athens entirely, in fact it was non even commanded by an Athenian specifically but the bid was nominally with the Spartans, normally recognised as the dominant land power.

The Iranian licking at Plataea, once more a licking of superior Numberss to superior tactics, saw the terminal of the Iranian efforts to straight suppress Greece. This would non hold been apparent at the clip though and we see the Greeks prosecuting the Persians back towards the Ionian seashore and the conflict of Mycale.


The concluding component of the inquiry that has non been touched upon it the theological component. The statement in the inquiry does demo that the Greeks were a really spiritual peoples, triumph was achieved because the Gods were on the side of the master, Gods themselves were frequently seen as existent participants upon the battleground. The spiritual nature of the Greeks can besides be seen in the Spartan reluctance to process to Marathon until after the full Moon as this would be unfortunate, their failure to direct more military personnels to Thermopylae or to direct supports can bee seen in the same visible radiation, although their deficiency of belief in the northern scheme besides played a important portion here.

The needed brevity of this essay precludes the possibility of analyzing even one of the brushs in any deepness, allow along analyzing the whole of the two separate Iranian Wars. Even from the brief analysis above, nevertheless, we can see that the statement in the inquiry is far from true. The Athenians were mostly responsible for the triumph at Marathon, but they were non entirely, and the really menace of the Spartans reaching forced an brush on Athenian footings. Thermopylae saw no Athenians engagement at all whilst Artemisium and Salamis, like Marathon, was mostly but non wholly Athenian triumphs. The concluding conflict on Grecian dirt, Plataea, once more saw Athenian engagement, but besides saw the engagement of contingents from many other Grecian provinces and was non even commanded by an Athenian. The statement is, hence, non true although Athenian propaganda would hold seen Marathon and Salamis as the cardinal conflicts, and these were mostly Athenian triumphs.

To most of the Greek universe, so, this statement would be wholly false. The Iranian licking was an allied triumph, non an entirely Athenian one. The Spartans, for case, would indicate to Thermopylae and Plataea as the decisive conflicts, partially because of their engagement, but partially besides because they were a land power and these was land conflicts. The Athenians on the other manus, did see the Iranian licking as mostly their making, concentrating upon Artemisium and Salamis and the cardinal brushs, Xerxes did go forth Greece after Salamis after all.


P. Bradley, Ancient Greece: Using Evidence ( Rydalemere, 1988 )
A. R. Burn, Persia and the Greeks ( London 1984 )
J. B. Bury & A ; R. Meiggs,A History of Greece( London 1994 )
J. Hackett ( ed. ) ,War in the Ancient World( London 1989 )
N. G. L. Hammond,A History of Greece to 322 B.C.( Oxford, 1959 )
A. B. Lloyd ( ed. ) ,Battle in Antiquity( London 1996 )


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