Leonidas was another leader who contributed greatly to the eventual outcome of the Persian wars. Again, the Greeks were outnumbered and the choice was made to leave Athens and fight at another more suitable location. Although it was not Leonidas who chose the location of the battle, and although the battle of Thermopylae was a subsequent failure (Greek loss), the actions of Leonidas allowed for the success at the battle to come. As the Greek forces had been betrayed by a local sheep-herder (Ephialtes), Leonidas made the remarkable decision to stay with his 300 Spartan soldiers and fight at a wall remaining from a previous battle. Leonidas’ valour and courage is legendary.
But all in all what most historians debate is not why Leonidas stayed but whether or not his decision to stay was the overall right choice. My perspective on the situation is that Leonidas’ decision to stay was not the right choice. I postulate this because the whole goal was to protect the pass so that the Persians could not reach Athens, but after the defeat of the Spartans the Persians pushed forward and burned Athens to the ground. So in essence the last stand of the Spartans was pointless because the Persians completed their goal of the ransacking of Athens. Themistocles was the true hero; he evacuated Athens before the Persians came and defeated the Persians in a naval battle at Salamis, which forced the Persians to flee back to Asia.
Its great fleet would secure the empire against revolts from within and attacks from without and take the offensive to raid the Peloponnesian coast. Meanwhile, The Periclean strategy also had weaknesses. He was too fearful of the effect that high casualties would have on public sentiment in a democracy, if he had conducted more aggressive offensive military actions. He had not seen the opportunities for combined land and naval actions to bring a higher intensity of war to Spartan territory with little risk in order to hasten the effect of the attrition on Sparta. The defect essentially was that the Athenian people's morale proved unequal to the strain, and, after his death, rushed into
Athens had trade interest in the Ionian region. So Athens encouraged the Ionians when they revolted against Persia in 499 BC. This enraged Darius and he led the 1st Greco-Persian war and was defeated in 490 BC in the battle of Marathon. His son, Xerxes led the 2nd invasion against Athens. In the meantime, the Athenians convinced the Greek city states that Persia was a serious security threat for the whole region and formed an alliance against the Persians.
The Spartans were celebrating the Carneian festival, in honor of Apollo, as the Persians threatened to conquer them. Sadly, Spartan law forbid the army fight back during the festival, King Leonidas was only allowed to take his personal bodyguard and a few others to fight alongside him at Thermolypae. Leonidas clearly realized he would not return from battle, which was his partial intention. The Oracle at Delphi had prophesied that Sparta would mourn the loss of its city or one of its greatest kings. Therefore, King Leonidas believed if he went and sacrificed himself, Sparta would be saved.
After the Battle of Thermopylae, the Greeks were at the mercy of the powerful Persian Empire. Athens was abandoned at the insistence of Themistocles, and the Greek defence was centred around the naval fleet at Salamis and the land army at the Isthmus of Corinth. Xerxes was confident that victory was imminent and he took the challenge to annihilate the Greek navy in the Straits of Salamis, which lie between the Greek mainland and Salamis, an island that lies in the Sarconic Gulf near Athens. Themistocles had developed a powerful Greek Navy and chose the Straits of Salamis to fight the Persians on water, as a geographical advantage was crucial in nullifying the numerical advantage of The Persians. With their superior tactical skills, the Greeks were able to defeat the Persians and take control of the waterways.
The Greeks being citizen soldiers fought for their homes; families; religious shrines; city states; to preserve their new democratic way of life; and their desire to be free and rule themselves without an oriental overlord. The Persian army were conscripted and therefore they were not fighting to defend their homeland. As a result of this they were often poorly trained and some only took part in the army and battles as a way of impressing the king. As well as conflicting reasons behind the victory, the Persians and Greek army adapted many different fighting strategies. The Greeks had their advantage in close range.
Pericles Pericles, son of Xanthippus and Agariste, was an Athenian democratic who lived from 495 to 429 BCE, and died due to a plague that raged through Athens following the Peloponnesian War. He was one of the earliest believers in history of democratic government, and is known for his efforts in rebuilding Athens after the Persian Wars. He was the elected by the citizens of his state to be the military leader of Athens during the war against Sparta. Since Sparta was not a democratic government, Pericles really wanted to win the war to prove that democracy was the most successful type of government. He even spoke out at a funeral for Athenian soldiers who died in the battle, and explained that the survival of Athenian democracy depended on this war.
Due to the lack of morale, war weariness and economic crisis the unrest was beginning to form a dangerous revolution. (J Hite & C Hinton. 2000) Fearing for his life and under the advice of his Supreme Commander General Ludendorff William II the Kaiser of Germany handed over his power to a civilian government thereby abdicating his throne. He then left Germany and went into exile in Holland, where he lived until 1941. The new regime headed by Prince Max, attempted some reforms but ultimately this was ineffective due to the discontent and anger within the population of the failed war.
The Greeks are fighting for the return of their history. The Parthenon is the oldest standing structure in Greece. It represents all the great philosophers and inventors of Athens. The Greeks cannot take pride in their culture when it is miles away. Also, the Greek campaign is a step toward returning art to other countries and families that the British Museum has illegally obtained.