Lecture 7 Classical Greece, BC When we think of ancient Greece and the ancient Greeks, it is usually the 5th century which commands our undivided attention. This is the age of the great historians Herodotus and Thucydides, great dramatists like Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus, and the brilliant philosopher Socrates. The 5th century is also regarded as the age when the Greeks embraced their brilliant experiment in direct democracy.
Persia was for the policy-making classes in the largest Greek states a constant preoccupation. It is not known, however, how far down the social scale this preoccupation extended in reality.
After the defeat of the Lydian king Croesus c. In Darius came to power and set about consolidating and strengthening the Persian empire.
In bce the Greek city-states on the western coast of Anatolia rose up in rebellion against Persia. This uprising, known as the Ionian revolt — bcefailed, but its consequences for the mainland Greeks were momentous.
Athens and Eretria had sent a small fleet in support of the revolt, which Darius took as a pretext for launching an invasion of the Greek mainland. His forces advanced toward Europe in bce, but, when much of his fleet was destroyed in a storm, he returned home. However, in a Persian army of 25, men landed unopposed on the Plain of Marathonand the Athenians appealed to Sparta to join forces against the invader.
Owing to a religious festival, the Spartans were detained, and the 10, Athenians had to face the Persians aided only by 1, men from Plataea. The Athenians were commanded by 10 generals, the most daring of whom was Miltiades. While the Persian cavalry was away, he seized the opportunity to attack.
The Greeks then prevented a surprise attack on Athens itself by quickly marching back to the city.
The unprecedented size of his forces made their progress quite slow, giving the Greeks plenty of time to prepare their defense. A general Greek league against Persia was formed in Command of the army was given to Sparta, that of the navy to Athens. The Greek fleet numbered about vessels and was thus only about one-third the size of the Persian fleet.
Herodotus estimated the Persian army to number in the millions, but modern scholars tend to doubt his reportage. The Greeks decided to deploy a force of about 7, men at the narrow pass of Thermopylae and a force of ships under Themistocles at Artemisium. At sea a detachment of Persian ships attempted to surprise the Greek fleet, but the Greeks, forewarned, engaged the main Persian navy.
That night a tremendous storm destroyed the Persian squadron while the Greeks were safely in port.
On land the Persians attacked the Greeks at Thermopylae for two days but suffered heavy losses. However, on the second night a Greek traitor guided the best Persian troops around the pass behind the Greek army. The Spartan general Leonidas dispatched most of the Greeks south to safety but fought to the death at Thermopylae with the Spartan and Thespian soldiers who remained.
While the battle raged at Thermopylae, the Persian fleet attacked the Greek navy, with both sides losing many ships.
In September the Persians burned Athens, which, however, by that time had been evacuated. In the meantime, the Greeks decided to station their fleet in the Strait of Salamis.
Themistocles devised a clever stratagem: Soon afterward, the Persian navy retreated to Asia. It was finally driven from the country after the battle of Plataea in bce, where it was defeated by a combined force of Spartans, Tegeansand Athenians.
The Persian navy was defeated at Mycale, on the Asiatic coast, when it declined to engage the Greek fleet. Instead the Persian navy beached its ships and, joining a land army, fought a losing battle against a Spartan force led by Leotychidas. Although the Persian invasion was ended by the battles at Plataea and Mycale, fighting between Greece and Persia continued for another 30 years.
Led by the Athenians, the newly formed Delian League went on the offensive to free the Ionian city-states on the Anatolian coast. The league had mixed success, and in bce the Peace of Callias finally ended the hostilities between Athens and its allies and Persia.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus the there are no surviving historical accounts from the Persian side.
By some distance, the main source for the Greco-Persian Wars is the Greek historian and possibly this temple was a relatively late development.
Lecture 7 Classical Greece, BC The Greeks held the pass but eventually a traitorous Greek led a Persian force through the hills to the rear of the Greek forces, who were subsequently massacred. After the Persian Wars, Athens emerged as the most dominant political and economic force in the Greek world.
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of Colophon’s questions based on the Persian invasion 50 Marking grids to be used for response to the specific question. In response to also consider the effect on the Greek world in terms of the development of greater unity among the Knowledge of the differing political systems in Greece (esp Athens and Sparta) and Persia should.
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