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Persian Wars Overview

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  • The Persian Wars - Overview

  • Freedom vs Slavery?Democracy vs Tyranny?Europe vs Asia?Or empire vs empire?

  • BackgroundPersian Expansion: In the 500s, the Persian Empire expanded to the borders of Greece2) Athenian Democracy: In 508BC, Athens became the first democracy in history. 3) Ionian Revolt: Greek states revolted against Persian rule between 499-493BC

  • Battle 1:When: 490BCMarathonWhere: Marathon, near AthensHow many? c.11,000 Greeks, c.25,000 Persian infantry and 5,000 cavalryWho: King Darius (Persia), Datis (Persia), Miltiades (Athens), Pheidippides (Athens)Outcome: Greek victory. Persia forced to flee from Greece.What: Land battle

  • Between the WarsPersiaDarius swore revengeEgypt revolted in 487BCDarius died in 486BCXerxes became King and focused on restoring order in his own KingdomHe spent 4 years raising a force of 200,000 to invade GreeceHe sent emissaries to Greece to demand submission

  • PersiacontinuedHe built 800 shipsHe had a 2km canal cut through Mt AthosHe had a bridge of boats built across the HellespontHe had ships filled with supplies, and built depots along the route to GreeceBy 480, he was ready to punish the Greeks

  • Between the WarsGreeceThemistocles became a prominent figureAthens discovered large silver depositsThemistocles convinced Athens to build a large navy of 200 ships31 Greek states met in Corinth in 481 and formed the Hellenic AllianceLeonidas was put in charge of the Greek army

  • GreececontinuedThe Spartan Eurybiades was put in charge of the navyInternal disputes in Greece were suspendedSpies were sent to PersiaOstracised citizens were recalled to help the war effortBy 480 BC, Greece was united and ready to face a Persian invasion

  • The Invasion 480BCXerxes gathered men from 46 nations in Asia MinorUsing two bridges made of over 300 boats each, he crossed his huge force across the HellespontThe army spent over 3 months travelling down towards AthensA canal was cut at Mt Athos to allow his ships through safely

  • Xerxes Route

  • The Armies MeetThe Greeks planned to halt the Persian advance at Thermopylae, a narrow pass north of Athens.

    Nearby was Cape Artemisium, where they could position their navy.

  • Battle 2:When: August 480BCThermopylaeWhere: Thermopylae Pass, GreeceHow many? 300 Spartans, c.7,000 other Greeks, up to 200,000 PersiansWho: King Xerxes (Persia), Leonidas (Sparta), Ephialtes (Greek traitor)Outcome: Persian victory, yet the Greeks held up Xerxes advance for four days. What: Land battle

  • Herodotus:Then the Hellenes put out to sea and engaged battle with them; and in this battle the two sides were nearly equal to one another; for the fleet of Xerxes by reason of its great size and numbers suffered damage from itself, since the ships were thrown into confusion and ran into one another

  • Battle 3:When: 480BC same time as ThermopylaeArtemisiumWhere: Artemisium, near ThermopylaeHow many? c.300 Greek triremes, c.200 Persian shipsWho: Eurybiades (Sparta)Outcome: After several indecisive encounters, the Greeks withdrew on news of the defeat at ThermopylaeWhat: Naval battle

  • Athens is evacuatedThe defeat at Thermopylae forced the Greeks to reconsider their strategyThemistocles convinced his people to evacuate Athens to lure the Persians southHe argued that they should rely on their naval forces to defeat the Persians, as they were heavily outnumbered on the ground

  • Themistocles masterstrokeHis plan was to force a naval battle in the narrow straits at Salamis and destroy the Persian fleet of 800 triremes

    Bold but potentially brilliant

  • Battle 4:When: September, 480BCSalamisWhere: Salamis Island, near AthensHow many? C.380 Greek triremes, c.800 Persian shipsWho: King Xerxes (Persia), Themistocles (Athens), Eurybiades (Sparta)Outcome: Decisive Greek victory. Xerxes withdrew ready to fight again the following year.What: Naval battle

  • The Turning Point

    390 ships were hidden behind a promontory off the island of Salamis. Themistocles sent a false message to Xerxes, saying the Greeks were trying to escape and to send the fleet immediately. Xerxes sent 200 Egyptian vessels to the other end of the bay and the rest of the fleet were ordered into the narrow strait off Salamis.Greeks attacked. Persians confused and could not manoeuvre their boats. Persians were totally defeated.

  • Aeschylus:Forward, sons of the Greeks,Liberate the fatherland, liberateYour children, your women, the altars of the gods of your fathersAnd the graves of your forebears:Now is the fight for everything.

  • Winter breakThe two sides broke off for winter, in order to regroupXerxes, humiliated, returned to PersiaHe left Mardonius to finish the war in 479BCHe chose Plataea for the final showdownAthens convinced Sparta to join with them again for battle

  • Battle 5:When: August, 479BCPlataeaWhere: Plataea, southern GreeceHow many? c.40,000 Greeks, c.50-100,000 PersiansWho: Mardonius (Persia), Pausanias (Sparta), Aristides (Athens)Outcome: Greek victory. Mardonius killed, Persian forces fled toward Persia.What: Land battle

  • Herodotus:so long as Mardonius survived, they held out against them, and defending themselves, they cast down many of the Lacedemonians; but when Mardonius was slainthen the others too turned and gave way before the Lacedemonianssince in truth they were contending light-armed against hoplites

  • The EndOn the same day, the Greeks finished off the Persian navy as well

  • Battle 6:When: August, 479BC, same time as PlataeaMycaleWhere: Mycale, Ionia (modern Turkey)How many? c.6,000 Greeks and 100 ships, c.50,000 Persians and 300 shipsWho: King Leotychides (Sparta)Outcome: Greek victory. Persian force defeated and fleet destroyed. Greeks returned to mainland.What: Amphibious assault

  • Herodotus:so long as Mardonius survived, they held out against them, and defending themselves, they cast down many of the Lacedemonians; but when Mardonius was slainthen the others too turned and gave way before the Lacedemonianssince in truth they were contending light-armed against hoplites

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