AN INTERACTIVE PRESENTATION BY: ANDREW BETKA The Persian War
The Build Up
The Greek League
The Persian war began after the Persians conquered the lands of Lydia on the coasts of Asia Minor. The Persians placed tyrants in control of the new city-states. The conquered Lydians revolted with the help of Athens. With the help of the Athenian ships, the Lydians burned the capital of Sardis. The Athenians lost interest and left; Persia soon had the kingdom of Lydia under control again in 495 BCE and wanted payback.
Battle of Marathon
In 490 BCE the Athenians met the vengeful Persians at Marathon. The Athenians were vastly outnumbered but prevailed through superb strategy.
The Persian army awoke to see the Athenians running at them. The Persians were groggy so it took them a moment to mobilize, when they did they began to push back the center of the Athenian army. This is what the Athens commander Miltiades wanted. After the lines of the Persians were thinned the center stood and held its ground while the strengthened flanks pushed in on the sides. The Persian army collapsed and fled.
Without this victory the Athenians would have been destroyed and the Persian war would have ended before it could have begun.
The Greek League was the alliance of the Greek city-states led by Athens, Corinth, and Sparta. Sparta was chosen as the leader of the of land and sea operations for its superior military capabilities.
The Persian War played out in three key battles after Marathon. They were:
This is the most well known battle during the Persian War. This is where 300 Spartans sacrificed themselves to buy the Athenians enough time to finish the construction of their navy.
However it is commonly overlooked that a few thousand made the last stand in the Hot Gates and not only the 300 Spartans. The Spartans were accompanied by Thespians and Thebans.
The Greeks were able to hold out due to their military formation the Hoplite, which required every man to cover the man to the left with his shield, thus making a wall of shields and spears. When the spears failed the resorted to the short sword at their hip.
These brave men could have held out longer if not for the betrayal of Ephialtes, who told the Persian King Xerxes of a back way to the Greek Army. This resulted in the inevitable loss of the battle, however it bought the Athenians the time they needed.
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This was the defining battle that delivered the crippling blow to the Persians. The Greeks lured the Persian navy to the island of Salamis. As the Persian navy sailed into the straight the Greeks cut off the escape route and systematically rammed and sunk the Persian navy of twice their size.
Xerxes who had been watching the battle from a hill fled back to Persia and left his army to fight their way back under the command of Mardonius.
This was actually the final battle of the war. In 479 BCE the remaining Persian army was defeated and Mardonius was killed, thus ending the Persian War.
The victory for the Greeks set their tone of superiority in the world, especially the Athenians. This mind set was the driving force behind the great cultural achievements that would catapult Athens into the leading culture of the time.
I am Andrew Betka. I am currently a sophomore at Grand Valley State University and am currently seeking a degree in teaching high school social studies. You can comment on this PowerPoint at [email_address]
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Hoplites In Action Click on the image to begin movie Return to previous slide