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Transcript
Marathon Outline
4/4/2012 1:10:00 PM

The Persian King wanted revenge on Athens and control of the
Mediterranean sea
 Because they burned one of his prize cities
o The Persians sent envoy to the Greek cities demanding “earth
and water.” Most of the Greek cities caved in, remembering
what the Persians had done to their cousins, the Ionian
Greeks (The Ionian Greek’s cities were completely destroyed
by the Persians.). The Athenians and Spartans, however,
refused. The Athenians threw the envoys into a ravine used
for executing criminals. The Spartans threw the second pair

down a well and told them to help themselves to all the earth
and water they wanted.
 For control of the Mediterranean Sea “Control of the Mediterranean
Sea was extremely important and was the reason for many wars in
the times before and after the Persian Wars.”
Right before the battle of Marathon happened
 When the Athenians heard that the Persians were coming, they
quickly mobilized all their troops, about 10,000 hoplites and about
the same amount of freemen who couldn’t afford hoplite armor and

a similar number of slaves, and marched to the plain/beach of
Marathon, where they were joined by the 1,000 hoplites and their
entourage (about 3,000 men altogether including the hoplites) of
the small city-state of Platea.
When the Athenians and Plateans got to Marathon, they noticed the
Persian camp on the beach and saw with their own eyes the size
and magnificence of the Persian army. It was about 1,00,000
strong, with about 60,000 actual soldiers. The rest were mariners
or camp followers.
o The Athenian’s exiled tyrant, Hippias, had run to Persia for
revenge against Athens (He hoped to regain his kingdom).
Darius agreed to set him back up as tyrant of Athens once he
conquered it. (Darius didn’t care what regime was set up in
conquered land, as long as they obeyed him) In return,
Hippias told Darius the perfect place for the Persian tactics,
especially the cavalry. The plain/beach of Marathon.




Before the Persians attempted to attack Athens, they also trashed
Eretria, a city that had helped burn Sardis (one of Darius’ prize
cities, as mentioned above) with Athens. The Eretrians put up a
strong fight, but were beaten in the end.
The Greeks were in a very strong position if the Persians attacked,
but the Perisans, knowing this, did not attack, and since they had a
supply problem, the Persian commander, Datis, loaded all of his
cavalry and some of infantry onto his ships and left his most trusted
general, Artiphernes, with a holding force of about ???10,000
men??? Then Datis sailed around to attack an undefended Athens.
Sparta, the most militarily powerful city-state in Greece.
Pheidippides ran the 150 to 160 miles between Athens and Sparta
in two days. When he reached Sparta, he delivered his message.
Said Pheidippides to the Spartans, "Men of Sparta, the Athenians
ask you to help them, and not to stand by while the most ancient
city of Greece is crushed and subdued by a foreign invader; for
even now Eretria has been enslaved, and Greece is the weaker by
the loss of one fine city." The Spartans said they would be glad to
help, but they were having a religious festival and could not march
until the full moon, which was about one week away.
o Why runners? The Greeks generally used runners to deliver
messages instead of horsemen due to the mountainous
terrain of Greece. There were many kinds of runners,
including Pheidippides, who was a day runner, someone who
could run all day long without stopping.
“Herodutus’s Histories” provide most of our information
o “Herodotus was called the “Father of Lies” as often as he is
called the “Father of History””

This is due to the fact that Herodotus read his stories to
the Athenians for pay, and he was paid depending on
how much he made the Athenians look good, so if
something embarrassing happened to Athens, he would
leave it out of his accounts.
 “Herodotus’ account of the battle is the earliest
one we have and yet present historians will tell
you that his story is probably inexact and already



included the way in which the story had changed
in the fifty years since the battle happened.”
 Plutarch also wrote???in the years after the battle
and may even have met some veterans???
How do we know it happened the way it says in the books? “We
don’t really. There is archaeological evidence of a tomb at
Marathon and of other things the Greeks wrote about. We only
know that Herodotus was serious about trying to separate myth
from what really happened and that he was writing the story as he
had heard it about 50 years after it had happened. I have read
Herodotus and he tries to tell you who he talked to or how he found
out the story he is telling… So, I tend to feel Herodotus’s story is at
least close to what really happened.”
“It is important to explain how we know about the Battle of
Marathon from Herodotus who was recording what he heard from
others and not what he saw with his own eyes. This helps us think
about history and how stories are passed along. I would like to
read what the Persians wrote about the battle, but I am not sure
anything survives.”

The battle happened
 After facing each other in a nervous standoff for a couple of days,
the ten Athenian generals (not a very good choice, having ten
generals) and the polemarch, Camillimachus (who was the real hero
at Marathon, even though he was killed in the fighting) voted
whether to wait for the promised Spartan reinforcements of to fight
now. It was five to five when Miltiades (who was for fighting) talked
to Camillimachus and Camillimachus voted for fighting. So the

Athenians went into battle against the Persians, and Miltiades was
given command of the army.
In order not to be outflanked (surrounded) by the much vaster
Persian army, Miltiades thinned out the phalanxes (Greek battle
formation) in the center, so that it was four men deep instead of
the customary 8. On his flanks, however, he kept the 8 strong
regular phalanxes. He then marched toward the Persians.
o The Persian’s battle tactics were to have the Persian archers
pour thousands of arrows into the enemy as they advanced,
and by the time the enemy got close enough to fight hand-tohand, they would only be a shattered remnant of the force
that had attacked, and then the Persian light skirmisher
troops and cavalry would rush in to finish them off.
 The Persian army did not even share a language.
o The Greek’s battle tactics were quite different. They were
trained for phalanx-to-phalanx combat, where most of both
side’s spears would shatter on first contact.



o The Persian general at Marathon, Artiphernes, put his best
troops in the center of his army.
The Greeks countered the Persian tactics by, as soon as they got
within arrow range, (about 200 yards away from the Persians)
breaking into a run. The archers opened fire, but due to the Greeks
coming in at a run, most of them mistimed their shots and most of
their arrows flew harmlessly over the Greeks. The Persians were
astounded. Surely the Greeks would be exhausted before they even
got close enough to fight.
o There was actually an event in the Olympics called the race in
armor. Contestants would put on a suit of full Greek armor
and race each other around a track very fast.
When the Greeks reached the Persian battle line, they massacred
the lightly armed Persian skirmisher troops. The Persian archers still
poured arrows into the Greek troops, but they were now so closely
packed with the Persian troops that they were bound to hit their
own soldiers.
What Herodotus wrote about that first contact: The enemy directly
in their path ... realised to their horror that [the Athenians], far
from providing the easy pickings for their bowmen, as they had first
imagined, were not going to be halted ... The impact was
devastating. The Athenians had honed their style of fighting in
combat with other phalanxes, wooden shields smashing against
wooden shields, iron spear tips clattering against breastplates of
bronze ... in those first terrible seconds of collision, there was
nothing but a pulverizing crash of metal into flesh and bone; then



the rolling of the Athenian tide over men wearing, at most, quilted
jerkins for protection, and armed, perhaps, with nothing more than
bows or slings. The hoplites' ash spears, rather than shivering ...
could instead stab and stab again, and those of the enemy who
avoided their fearful jabbing might easily be crushed to death
beneath the sheer weight of the advancing men of bronze.
The strong Greek phalanxes on the wings easily beat back the
weaker Persian flanks and finally routed them. However, they had
no time to congratulate themselves. The strong Persian center was
pushing back the much weaker Greek center. Each phalanx
Effect
 Democracy was given a chance to evolve
 “The fact that the Greeks won the Persian Wars was a decisive
turning point in world history. Much of how we think and what kind
of government we have in the Western world (Europe and then the
United States and South America) came to us from the ideas of the
Greeks.”
His run to Athens was most likely a myth