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.
This is Thucydides' own final judgment. Peloponnesian War: Phase 1 (431-427) In a war between the main military and main naval powers in Greece a decisive result was unlikely to occur quickly. When the Spartans invaded, the rural population of Attica moved into the city. Athens became an island impregnable to attack. Its great fleet would secure the empire against revolts from within and attacks from without and take the offensive to raid the Peloponnesian coast.
Leonidas’ valour and courage is legendary. Herodotus records him retorting to a frightened soldier about the Persian arrows covering the sky: ‘then we shall fight in the shade’. Leonidas and his men were completely outnumbered yet they managed to delay the troops for roughly 4 days. This decision made by Leonidas meant that the Athenian troops could return to Athens, evacuate the city and decide on a battle place that suited the Greeks- Salamis. It was this delay that allowed Themistocles to persuade to the other military leaders to fight at Salamis which, according to Barry Strauss, was the turning point in the Persian wars.
It all started when King Darius decided to conquer the tiny Greek city states of mainland Greece. King Darius sent messengers to ask for presents of Greek earth and water, which would be a sign that the Greeks would accept rule by the Persians. Instead, the Greeks threw the messengers in wells and pits, and told them that was their earth and water. King Darius was furious and sent soldiers and cavalry by ship to Greece, and they assembled themselves on the plain of Marathon. Miltiades, a great general for Greece, convinced other Greek commanders that the Greeks should fight the Persians at Marathon.
It is estimated King Xerxes had several hundred thousand men. The Persians greatly outnumbered the Greeks at Sparta, Athens, and other city-states. Unfortunately, King Leonidas was forced to meet with the Persians without his Spartan army. King Xerxes planned his attack during important religious festivals for the Greeks. The Spartans were celebrating the Carneian festival, in honor of Apollo, as the Persians threatened to conquer them.
This is still an insurmountable force but definitely one more realistic than the former figure. Nevertheless, both sources agree that this army was to clash head to head against “Leonidas, with 4000 soldiers” (Diodorus.4) at the Battle of Thermopylae. After abandoning Thessaly due to warning from Alexander of the scale of the Persian advancement, the Greeks set to discuss where they should make a stand. The most favored proposal was to guard the pass of Thermopylae on the grounds that it was “narrower than the pass into Thessaly and at the same time nearer to home” (H.7.175). Upon making this decision,
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 Greek army decisively defeated the more numerous Persians, marking a turning point in the Greco-Persian Wars. The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC was the result of Persian revenge, after the Greek city-states of Athens and Eretria involved themselves in the Ionian Revolt from 499-493 BC. According to modern historian, Peter Green, the Persians sought to attack Athens with a fighting force of approximately 25, 000 men, of both foot soldiers and cavalry. The Athenians had to bring together their whole hoplite force to defeat the Persians. The Persian force was nearly double that of the Greeks, however due to Miltiades’ reliable expertise on Persian warfare, he was aware that the most elite soldiers would fight in the centre with the weaker ones at the wings.
The Athenians present Melians with the option of becoming a colony to them, or to be destroyed. The reason for this ultimatum stems mainly from the fact that Melians extended their support to Spartans during the Peloponnesian War and now were a potential enemy to the Athenians. Their freedom would mean a sign of weakness of the Athenians. After a long series of arguments, Athenians finally attack the Melians and defeat them. All the Melian men are slaughtered and the women and children forced to slavery.
What does the Ionian revolt tell us of the nature of Persian imperial rule? Ionian revolt is a rebellion of Greek cities in Ionia (Asia Minor) against Persian Empire that was the beginning of Greek-Persian wars. The rebellion was caused by the dissatisfaction of the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea and Cyprus inhabitants with the Persian rule. The tyrants of Miletus, Histiaeus and Aristagoras, were the initiators of the revolt. The main events of the revolt fixed by Herodotus provide us with important information about Persian rule and the real reasons of Ionian revolt.