The Battle of Marathon Essays

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The Battle of Marathon

One of the most significant battles in antiquity was fought on the narrow, tree strewn plain of Marathon, in September, 490 BC. There, the Athenian army defeated a Persian force more than twice its size, because of superior leadership, training and equipment. The battle of Marathon has provided inspiration to the underdogs throughout history. In 490 BC, the Athenians proved that superior strategy, and technology can claim victory over massive numbers.
In 646 BC the Persian armies, led by Cyrus, conquered the Greek city-state of Ionia, in Asia Minor. Despite the mildness of Persian rule, the Ionians did not like their conquerors. The Persians seemed barbaric to the cultured Ionians. The main objection to
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Darius’ troops under Datis and Artapherrnes, which included Ionians and other subject peoples as well as Persians, captured several island towns and took Eretrea on Euboea by treachery. The fleet then crossed the narrow strait from Euboea to the Greek mainland and disembarked about 25000 men, both cavalry and infantry, on the beach at Marathon in northeastern Attica. Here there was fine shelving sand that would make it easy to haul up the large Persian warships and disembarked their horses. Hippias, the tyrant of Athens who had been exiled in 510 BC accompanied the Persians. His “inside information” was obviously useful. The location also provided natural protection on the landward side, an easy line of retreat by sea, and good grazing for the Persians’ horses.
The Athenian general Meltiades persuaded the assembly of the Athenian democracy to dispatch him and the rest of the board of ten generals with 10000 hoplites to Marathon. Hoplites were heavily armed infantry soldiers. Philippides was sent to Sparta to ask the Spartans for aid. At the time, no one believed victory would be possible without the help of Sparta. They were the best-trained warriors in Greece. Phillippedes reached Sparta, 140 miles away, the day after he set out. The Spartans, however could not be hurried, and said that they would only dispatch their men after the six-day festival honoring Apollo. Sending any men before that time would insure
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