The Persian Wars by: Alec Norwood World History Mr. Jordan 1st Period October 12, 2007 The Persian Wars INTRODUCTION The Persian Wars were fought between the Greeks and the Persians between the years 490 and 479 B.C.E. The main conflict between the Greeks and the Persians began in Ionia, home of Herodotus. Many Pre-Socratic philosophers believe it started because the empire building (land hungry) Persians tried to capture and bring the Ionians under their power and control. The Persians were successful with some of the Ionian Greeks but others asked the mainland Greeks for help because they did not want to be ruled by the Persians (Hooker, 1999). IONIAN REVOLT The wars began in 490 B.C.E.
First they besieged the island of what is now Cyprus and then moved toward the mainland. They moved toward the epicenter of the rebellion, Lade. Once the leadership of the rebellions was apprehended, the leaderless rebellion was crippled. In a single day, the Persian army recaptured the rest of the rebellious cities and assimilated them back into the Persian Empire. But King Darius was not going to forgive the Athenian insult.
Faced with overwhelming odds, they retreated to a hilltop and planned to make a final stand but they were no match. Leonidas had learned about this and convened a council of war with his surviving generals ordering them to retreat. Most of the Greeks then retreated with only a mixed unit of around 1400 men stayed with the 300 Spartans to defend the pass against Xerxes. As daylight came, Xerxes paused allowing time for the immortals to advance towards the rear of the Greek forces. He then ordered a fresh wave of ten thousand infantry to advance against the Greeks.
The battle of Artemisium highlights Themistocles role in achieving victory for the Greeks. At Artemisium, it was Themistocles duty to send a naval fleet to attack the Persian navy, who were suspected to be sailing to Athens. this poved to be effective in the long term course of the war because it delayed the Persian fleet which meant that, “The Persians would not be able to divide their fleet and make raids against the Peloponnese for the purpose of creating divisions and seizing strategic points.”-Pamela Bradley. Furthermore if the Persians were able to launch raids in the Peloponnese this may have triggered Helot revolts as a possible alliance between them and Persia may have originated. If this were to have occurred then the Greeks alliance with the Spartans could have potentially been lost, as the Spartans may have withdrawn from the war.
The involvement of Athens and Eretria in the Ionian revolt according to Ehrenberg “put Athens into the center of the unfolding story of the Persian wars”. Herodotus agrees, stating that the dispatch of the ships from Athens and Eretria was “the beginning of the evil for both Greeks and barbarians.” The conflict brought about strong feelings from Athens toward Persia that were carried into future battles. Herodotus records that “the whole episode was probably most important for the later attitudes which it engendered.” The Greeks were motivated into defending their land from the Persians after seeing the fate of the Greeks in Ionia. They knew that if they were conquered according to Ehrenberg that “the freedom of the Greek states would be lost.” Public support in Athens against Persia was gained due to the fate of Miletus. Many Athenians felt that more help should have been provided to protect the cities destruction.
The plan of the prominent Athenians had however already been put into motion and as the emissaries were finding out that they were not going to get the Persian gold they had been promising, the political clubs in Athens were organising for a vote to abolish the democracy. Thucydides does mention some terror tactics being used such as the murder of political opponents but he does not put too much stress on the subject. With the prominent Athenians now aware that the original proposal to establish an oligarchy and pursue the war with Persian gold is not going to happen they change their plans and instead establish an oligarchy of the four hundred backed up by an assembly of the five thousand and promising to pursue the war with their own private fortunes. Using the power of the organised political clubs and most probably intimidation the motion was passed and Athens then became an oligarchy. In 404/3 the Athenians also voted to abandon the democracy but instead of the vote being influenced by political clubs and intimidation by various Athenians it was
He spent the year 335 subduing restive people to the north and west of Macedonia, and crushing an Athenian-endorsed uprising at Thebes. Now mistrusting the Athenians, Alexander the Great declined to employ their fleet against Persia. He crossed the Hellespont into Asia Minor with his substantial army of thirty-five thousand Macedonians and Greeks overwhelming the Persian army and gaining enough spoils to restore the meager Macedonian treasury. The key to Alexander’s success there was timing, and one of his great abilities was knowing when and where to strike defensively. Then, he would pursue the retreating enemy, who more often than not, could not regroup after Alexander’s strikes.
In the summer of 480 B.C a battle took place that would forever change the history of the Greeks and that would eventually influence the way in which the Western world looked at war. The Spartans took their stand against the massive army of Persians in a three day battle which resulted in the Persians taking the win but may have very well led to the Greeks winning the Greco-Persian War. A culmination of strong tactical skill and bravery contributed to the Spartans making a stand much longer and stronger than anybody could have ever predicted. The Persian king Xerxes led his massive army through the narrow mountain pass known as Thermopylae expecting no considerable fight on the part of the Spartans. The Persians bid to conquer Greece was significantly
At the beginning of the period of interest, that is, the beginning of the 5th century Athens is one of the most powerful Greek city states attempting to gain support of other States. Through the Persian Wars they build up their reputation as a protector of the Greek states until near the end of the period where the Athenian empire is formed with allies becoming subjects to the more powerful Athens. Throughout this period Athens built alliances made enemies that led to Athens eventual downfall. The Ionian revolt in 499 BC can be seen as a first attempt by Athens to gain support from Greeks in Asia Minor as Athens provided assistance to the Ionian Greeks in liberating them from Persian occupation therefore allowing them to gain their autonomy back. At this time the Greek states were continually at war with one another and there was no unity between them.