From Thermopylae to Marathon, discover the most important battles of the ancient Greek wars, which helped set the course of European history for centuries. The Ancient Greeks formed alliances like no civilization before them. This massive assembly of city-states led to the existence of massive armies that were more coordinated and powerful than anything the world had ever seen. Greek Wars: The Battle of Marathon, 490 BC
The Battle of Marathon, which took place during the first Persian invasion of Greece, was fought between the combined forces of Athens and Plataea against King Dariusв Persian army. Darius attempted to invade Greece after the Athenians had sent aid to Ionia to help with their revolt against the Persians. After effectively shutting down the revolt, the angry king turned his attention to Greece, first capturing Eretria, then sailing into Marathon for vengeance. Though heavily outnumbered, the Greek forces managed to defeat the lightly armed Persian army after only five days. Darius spent the rest of his life rebuilding his army for another invasion but the second chance at success wouldn t come until after his death when his son, Xerxes, led troops in.
The Battle of Marathon was significant because it proved to the world that the Persians could be defeated. More interestingly (though less significantly), it led to the creation of marathon running, which was inspired by an inaccurate story about a Greek messenger running to Athens from Marathon with news of victory. The sport was subsequently introduced in the 1896 Athens Olympics. Xerxes had no idea that he had been tricked by the wily Greek commander. Although there had been conflicts between the Greek leaders, they remained united. The next morning, realizing that the Greeks had not retreated, the Persian fleet advanced into the narrow straits between the island and the mainland. The large ships of the Persian fleet had difficulty maneuvering in the small body of water, and with each advancing line of Persian ships sailing became more and more difficult. The smaller Greek ships were able to sink many of the Persian ships trapped in the straits. In addition, the Ionian Greeks, who had unsuccessfully rebelled generations before, left Xerxes\’ fleet and began to fight on the side of the Greek allies.
The Persians suffered many casualties in the battle, especially because Persian soldiers did not know how to swim when they jumped from sinking ships. In addition, the cramped space of the straits made it difficult for any ship to retreat. When the battle finally ended, the Greeks were triumphant and the few remaining Persians ships fled from the island of Salamis. The great victory at sea near Salamis helped to end the war between the Persians and the Greeks. With a land loss at the Battle of Plataea the next year, the Persians were pushed out of the Greek mainland once and for all. In the next few generations, the Greeks, through an alliance called the Delian League, managed to free Ionia from Persian rule and then drive the Persians out of Asia Minor entirely. After defeating the Persians, the Greeks entered into a golden age. Their culture, philosophies, and values went on to influence the development of Western civilization. Many historians cite the Battle of Salamis as one of the most important battles in human history.
If the Persians had won against the Greeks at Salamis, it is likely they would have won the war and the development of human history would have looked very different. Without the Ancient Greeks, the civilization of Rome, Western Europe, and eventually the United States might not have come into being at all. Let\’s review. The September 480 B. C. E. Battle of Salamis was one of the final battles in the second war between the Persian Empire led by King Xerxes and an alliance of Greek city-states. Salamis is an island off the coast of mainland Greece. The Battle of Salamis was a great victory for the Greek navy and, in combination with a victory by the Greek army at the Battle of Plataea the next year, led to the complete defeat of the Persians. Many historians cite the Battle of Salamis as one of the most important battles in human history. If the Persians had won against the Greeks at Salamis, it is likely they would have won the war and the development of human history would have looked very different.